Welcome CG favorite illustrator Christiane Engel as she talks about how she got started as an illustrator…
CE: I get asked this a lot….here’s the long version of the answer.
When I was studying arts in Germany, I tried everything from painting, printing, photography, typography, graphic design, animation and some filming, it was that kind of school were you were left free to explore all mediums and encouraged to find your own voice through creative play rather than by doing exams.
I stuck with illustration and animation and found out I had the most fun when I could tell stories and apply my art to something.
For example, I created a set of playing cards around a travel theme, and wrote several stories, fairy tale adaptations and started making lift the flap books in my own quirky, not necessarily child-friendly style. I got into animation a bit more and even got government funding to develop one of my stories for animation.
When I moved to England and continued studying here, I found out that it’s all a lot more structured: written work and seminars and presentations, all these things were alien to me. So, not so much creative exploration but presenting and discussing what one had done.
But what I actually, almost by accident (or actually a spontaneous suggestion), did end up doing is something I still look back on these days!
I had to write a dissertation (which is about the most boring thing to do if you rather want to spend your time creating) so I wrote a whole book about ‘Kids’ Art’ which is about the influence children’s art had in art history throughout the decades and it touches on child development and psychology, art therapy, and I even went on analysing my own childhood drawings.
I also worked with local pre schools and kindergartens and shared my findings about children’s creativity in my dissertation, it actually was fun and I discovered amazing things!
As part of the practical part of this BA course I created a few books with illustrated stories of mine, but still was a bit unaware that this could lead to an actual profession…. Illustrating!?
So after all that I continued studying for the MA and decided to write a children’s book series, because creating something for children seemed the closest thing to my heart.
I invented two characters, a boy called Louis and his dog Bobo, and wrote and illustrated three books about their adventures (the third book was a bereavement book – Bobo sadly dies!)
All within a year, I completed the MA and found an agent (Goodillustration.com) and a publisher for one of these books! This was Louis + Bobo – We Are Moving, published by Chrysalis. A type based on my children’s style handwriting was created for this, too.
More commissions from publishers, advertising agencies and magazines came in and I learned all that I know about illustration on the job whilst I was doing it!
A fantastic job that I’m so happy doing evolved from those early beginnings…
And although it wasn’t a random choice, I never made the big conscious decision to become an illustrator… Just this idea that I wanted to create things for children and see my art applied in the real world.
So far, I’ve illustrated many kids’ books, including an atlas and a bible, puzzles and more recently I got into pattern design and map illustration, which I both love.
How did you get into what you do, and how did you decide, was it a journey? We’d love to hear about it!
Original post: How I became an illustrator by Christine Engel
See additional Christiane Engel works at http://chengelillustration.com/