Hello there Stephanie, could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Stephanie Franziska Scholz and I live and work in Berlin. I studied illustration under Henning Wagenbreth at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin and received my diploma there in 2012. Since then I've been working as a freelance illustrator for magazines, newspapers, publishing houses and advertisement agencies.
I also have a fine art project on the side with my lovely friends Frederick Gmeiner from Feld and photographer Julia Soler called ‘Studio Spektral‘.
You have a very interesting background, born in Japan, grew up in Australia and now living in Berlin. How would you say your work has been influenced by the different places and cultures you have experienced over the years?
Hmm, I don't really know if it's influenced my work that much. It definitely influences my ideas about nationality and what home means though. I realized that if I had stayed in Australia as a teenager, I would have identified completely as an Australian.
So, it was refreshing and liberating for me to understand, that culture means habit and nothing more. I love living in Berlin now, but I also know that I could move somewhere else and would be able to feel at home there too.
What kind illustrational styles do you love the most?
I love so many different styles, I can't pin one down. I enjoy illustrators who are courageous with colors and shapes and who like experimenting. I also love discovering artists who have obsessions and allow me to see a whole new side to things through their love for a subject matter.
How do you normally start on a new project? Either for a client or personal?
Usually for personal projects I find things I am interested in anyway and then want to portray. I love all sorts of towers, sport courts and swimming pools as well as observatories and machines that are related to space travel. I like reading about them, especially anything related to astronomy, and then the ideas for illustrations come all on their own.
For clients it's a different process. I receive the text or brief, then start doing research and brain storming. If it's a really tricky subject matter and I'm stuck, I have a list of questions to work through, which are meant to help me find visual ideas. Then when I have an idea I make a sketch, color the sketch in photoshop so the client gets a better idea and send it to them for feedback. If they are happy with the idea, I start working on the shapes in illustrator and then finish the colors and textures in photoshop. And while I work I always listen to podcasts. They help my brain a lot.
You are represented by a few illustration agencies, what advice do you have for illustrators who would like to be represented by an agency?
See if the agent feels right to you, intuitively. I really like my agents and enjoy speaking to them and working with them. They give me insight into what I need for my portfolio and what works well with clients, if they promote my work. I've become more focused and have been able to stick to one style more, since I've found agencies to represent me. Also, I was never that amazing at promoting myself, so I'm glad to pass that on to someone else. That said, I know a lot of illustrators who work well on their own.
Please tell us a bit about your personal project - Studio Spektral?
Frederic, Julia and I have invented this fictional graphic design studio. It is called Studio Spektral and was meant to exist in Berlin in the 80s. The fictional design studio makes record covers for fictional bands. We invent all their biographies, stage photos with people playing the invented musicians and then have real musicians make music for them.
In the end it's exhibited as a retrospective of this legendary graphic design studio. We make it all look very serious, with glass boxes showcasing instruments and old photographs. So it's also about how we take things seriously, as soon as they are in a gallery space.
It's very liberating and exciting to work on this project. And also, I feel it's quite relevant considering current events. Our stories are about obsessive passionate people though- we're not trying to manipulate anyone. It's positive and often about artists we wish had existed, like ‘Mulde' and all female feminist Kraut Rock band. Why weren't they actually around? We enjoy playing with narratives that could have happened, that are a little silly but that one could also buy into.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I love reading, it's my absolutely favorite thing in the world. I read lots of novels, but I also enjoy popular science books about biology, human evolution, astronomy and physics. I need to find a really quiet peaceful spot to understand some of the physics books though. What else- I sing classical music in a choir. I go to art history classes in different museums once a week, which is very inspiring. I'm also trying to learn how to make tattoos. It's very exciting- a huge adrenalin kick since you really want to get it right.
What music do you like to listen to?
I love to listen to all sorts of music. My friend Linus Gabrielsson makes mixes I adore, called the Journey for Berlin Community Radio. He has my favorite taste in music of anyone I know. I always like listening to Steve Reich, Can, Connan Mockasin, Brian Eno, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Moondog. They have stayed constantly loved by me over the years. And lots of world music too.
Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Oh, that's hard. Hmm, it might take time until work goes well and that's normal, so don't freak out. I used to change my style every two weeks, because it's so much fun to try techniques, but that didn't work at all for clients. So, try to stick to a style, I guess.
Although some people change theirs and that works too, say if you're really funny and that's what you're recognized for. Tricky this question- there are so many ways of going about being an illustrator!
Do you have any good books or websites you would recommend?
Oh yes, absolutely! I loved reading 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari and 'On the Move: A life' by Oliver Sacks. A great novel I am reading right now is 'The Sellout' by Paul Beatty. I also really liked 'The Thing Explainer' by Randall Munroe.
A big thanks to Stephanie Franziska Scholz for taking the time to do the interview!
For more information and amazing works from Stephanie Franziska Scholz, please visit: http://www.stephanie-f-scholz.com/All artwork featured in this interview is copyrighted and owned by Stephanie Franziska Scholz. Please do not use any of the images without written permission from the artist.