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Tag Archives: Bernhard Oberdieck

Part II. Mattias Adolfsson the Illustrative Storyteller

Like all good illustrators, Matias is a storyteller with paint and ink. The joy of working with folk like Mattias, Angel Dominguez, Bernhard Oberdieck, Nick Harris, Sarah Davis and others, is that they can load layers of meaning into a single picture adding dimension to the text. They are also able to add illustrative subplots of their own that augment the main plot and add visual interest. The other joy, and I speak here as a writer, is that their very doodlated sketches and ‘just for me/ for fun’ works  speak, story positively oozing out the edges. I have episodes of  total right brain escapism let loose with Mattias’ tantalising takes on everything and anything and more. Many of the Wacky Wordages on my blog or available for teachers and students and others  via www.sharing-books.com, are the result of such episodes of  creative indulgence.

Characters

Beatnik Dragon [alias Mattias?]

Beatnik Dragon -alias Mattias?

Gnu with G[n]un

Gnu with un Gnun

Monster 4

Monster 4

Person carriage with mini-elephant

Person carriage with mini-elephant

and more characters…

Piggles

Piggles

Sky Dragon

Sky Dragon

The importance of flat sock ironing

The importance of flat sock ironing

Bertie in bath - character in "Improbable Adventures..." with J.R.Poulter

Bertie in bath - character in "Improbable Adventures..." with J.R.Poulter

Jennifer: The comic book element is present in many of your blog posts, you mentioned a course in comic writing/creation. What brought on that deviation? What are you ambitions in venturing into that genre?

Mattias:

I’m not a big comic reader (I used to be though) but I’d like to do some kind of comics/book soon. My priority has to be making a living though, so it’s hard finding time making something like books and comics on my own time without the monetary backing.

Jennifer: The sense of story in your works is strong. Do you have plans for your own children’s picturebook? What about a darkly humorous graphic novel? [You keep tantalizing us with hints of projects underway.]

Mattias: I have a problem with too many ideas at the moment, I need to focus on print and leaving the web perhaps, I spend far too much time doing internet things. Maybe a yearlong web sabbatical would do the trick.

Characters in current book project, “Improbable Adventures…” :

Elery takes off

Henry takes off

Elery

Elery

Henry & ice-cream truck

Henry & ice-cream truck

Jennifer: I find your work inspiring in a dangerously right brain way!

Do you find the drawings evolve themselves from the end of your pen and do their own thing or do you try to control them?

Mattias: I often say that the drawing kind of evolves rather than being planned, but when I look at the drawings I do, or rather, I can see certain themes, I guess that my right brain does know what it wants to draw…

Some of Mattias’ ‘right brain inspired’ series :

Rocket series: Goth Spear Tower Rocket

Rocket series: Goth Spear Tower Rocket

Robot sea creature series: Magnetic Fish 3

Robot sea creature series: Magnetic Fish 3

Domestic Monster series: The Manual Clothesline

Domestic Monster series: The Manual Clothesline

The House Flower Series - House Flower 1

The House Flower Series - House Flower 1

Jennifer: Do you get many approaches from the corporate world? I mean if I were Mojo, I’d want you to design my logo! What are some of the more oddball commissions you have had?

Which commissions do you enjoy the most?

Mattias: I get some approaches but not enough and far too few are oddball, I’d love to do textiles or pottery (not sure about the right name for this). The strangest was doing fashion Illustrations for an English magazine (I’m totally uninterested in fashion). The best commissions I’ve done are when I get a free hand (surprise)!

A variety of  output….

New Ideas in Vacuum cleaners

New Ideas in Vacuum cleaners

This is the back of the book "Till mitt barnbarn" Mattias had been working on, it's all the objects from the first page neatly packed.

This is the back of the book "Till mitt barnbarn" Mattias had been working on, it's all the objects from the first page neatly packed.

Jennifer: There is a great ‘new’ interview with Mattias on Design Taxi for the curious. So, Mattias, having barraged you with questions, which one that you DESPERATLEY wanted me to ask, have I left out? Now is your turn!

Mattias: Do you sometimes fret over if you are too much of an illustrators’ Illustrator and may be not have a very commercial style?  The thought has occurred to me lately. I’m trying to get commission work and maybe an art sales rep, but it’s hard and very time consuming.

Jennifer notes: The mechanics of earning a living with art and literature require,  especially in in the early stages of ‘breaking in’,  other work which  seems constantly to threaten to rob that precious and closely guarded creative element, ‘time’, and yet the  art/literature is the raison d’être and the other, the ‘intrusive’ work, merely essential if the writer/artist is  to do something as mundane as eat.

More variations of Mattias’ output:

Parade: on a roll - Some additional drawing to the book Mattias is doing (Bonnier & Carlsen) with his sister as a designer.

Parade: on a roll - Some additional drawing to the book Mattias is doing (Bonnier & Carlsen) with his sister as a designer.

Cooking utensils series - done whilst commuting on the train

Cooking utensils series - done whilst commuting on the train

57 birds and one owl

57 birds and one owl

Early adopters adopting their adaptations

Early adopters adopting their adaptations

Lonely Chinese Tree

Lonely Chinese Tree

A rose is a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose

And, just to show Mattias does not just do humorous work, but very delicate and detailed pieces as well, I have included the flowers at the end of the interview.

Those of you hungry for more – go to :  http://www.mattiasadolfsson.se/  http://mattiasa.blogspot.com/

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CAT’S CONCERT – latest modern classic by Bernhard Oberdieck to hit the shelves

Cat's Concert -1

Cat's Concert -1

Dirk Walbrecker and Bernhard Oberdieck

“Katzenkonzert”, The story of Bianca and Nero

How sad life can be if there is no one to play with! This is the fate of an old piano which is all alone in a cellar bar. Longingly, it remembers the days when the pianist Tom coaxed beautiful sounds out of it. But who appears in the cellar instead of Tom and starts to produce totally new sounds? First Nero, the amorous black tomcat with the white paws! Then Grrr, the amorous grey tomcat with the grim face! And finally Bianca, the elegant cute white cat with the black paws … A concerto for cats in major and minor modes, on black and white keys, with black, grey and white paws. And who plays best with whom in the end? The text and music of Katzenkonzert can be listened to on the accompanying CD – spoken by Dirk Walbrecker with jazzy classical improvisations by Jenö Nyári. Dirk Walbrecker studied German language and literature and educational science, among others. Since 1986 free-lance author: screenplays, radio plays, picture books, novels for children and young people. Many reading tours. For further information, see web site at http://www.dirkwalbrecker.de.

Cat's Concert - 2

Cat's Concert - 2

Bernhard Oberdieck sat at the desk of his father at the age of four already, decorating the back sides of business letters. Studied graphic design in Bielefeld, worked as art teacher and in advertising agencies. Since 1978 free-lance illustrator of more than 180 books for national and international publishers. For further information, see web site at http://www.kinderbuchillustration.com. When Cats are jazzing … A musical story for young and old cat lovers A concerto with black and white paws

Including CD

Target group: Children aged 6+, parents

32 pages (with CD) fully illustrated in four colours

hardbound 21,8 x 27,5 cm

ISBN: 3-7957-0186-4 (ED 20433) € 19,95

Cat's Concert -3

Cat's Concert -3

Cat's Concert-4

Cat's Concert-4

Bernhard Oberdieck – Leading German illustrator, creator of children’s classics

Bernhard Oberdieck

Bernhard Oberdieck

The Art of Illustrating for Children and Some Survival Initiatives for Illustrators! – An Interview with Bernhard Oberdieck storyteller with paint and pen

Jennifer: Bernhard you have already covered in detail the extraordinary processes and techniques you utilise to create your wonderful images. [Readers – I highly recommend a visit to http://www.bernhard-oberdieck.com/en/technik.php to gain an insight into the workings behind Bernhard’s creations.] You have an astounding output – around 200 books by my estimation! What I want to cover in this interview is the background to all this amazing creativity.

You talked about developing ideas in the studio and doing variations of an idea until it is ‘right’ especially in relation to the layout of text. Do you also carry an artist’s notebook with you when you travel in case a solution occurs to you for a particular illustrative problem or an inspiration comes? Could you share one of your more challenging projects with us?

BERNARD: No, I don’t take an artist’s notebook with me if I travel. Previously, as a professional illustrator and as a student, I have drawn and painted a lot from nature and I have visited a lot of museums to study the old masters. Today I draw almost everything freely from my head or I look at photos or old illustrations from old books which I use as stimulus and inspiration. Some I utilise their basic layout in changed form in my illustrations. A good example of this is the circus illustration. Here I took an old photo, I made several years before in the South of France. I deleted some houses in the middle and placed the circus tent in their place. Because I illustrate daily about 8-12 hours, I take no drawing materials in hand in my free time.

Circus illustration - using his photographs-ic art to inform his illustrations


Jennifer: Yes I see the very varied sources of inspiration coming through. This particular picture reminds me of some of the works of Japanese hanga woodcuts.

Maustitel - Mouse & Berries - reminiscent of Hanga woodcuts

Maustitel - Mouse & Berries - reminiscent of Hanga woodcuts

Do you ever develop pictures purely because you want to as an artist and not for an illustrative project? Are there particular themes you enjoy painting more than others and why?

BERNARD: Yes, I also sometimes paint as purely an ‘artist’. But these pictures are abstract, very different from my illustrations and, up to now, only for myself.( http://www.bernhard-oberdieck.com/art.php) As an illustrator, I always try to interpret the text to so that children will get the most from the book. Maintaining the highest quality in my illustrative work is important to me. I illustrate many themes but I prefer illustrations with animals, I don’t know why.

Jennifer: Some of the stunning wildlife and landscape photographs on you website show you to be a skilled photographic artist [see http://www.bernhard-oberdieck.com/en/galerie2.php%5D .

Are your photographs a source of inspiration or more a reference tool in the studio, especially during winter months? Or are they another form of your art you exhibit&/ or utilise in cards and calendars?

BERNARD: I illustrate a lot from my imagination and my recollection. Only if I must draw something exactly, do I refer to photos and older illustrations.

Jennifer: You have a very strong sense of place. The atmosphere in your landscapes and streetscapes is humming with story.

Storm by Berhard Oberdieck

Storm by Berhard Oberdieck

What I mean by that is you have captured the feel of the moment, the storm is almost audible rolling across the sky.

You can feel the ripple of the waters.

Ripples, Mouse and Owl by Bernhard Oberdieck

Ripples, Mouse and Owl by Bernhard Oberdieck

The reader/viewer is able to step into your pictures and observe the story first hand. Have you always had such a strong connection with nature and your surroundings? What are your fondest memories of the outdoors? How has where you live/have lived shaped your art?

BERNARD: Yes, this is exactly right. I have very strong recollections of my childhood. This was lived on the land and amongst the beauties of nature. I grew up in a very small town and also live now in a small village with only 300 inhabitants. This has very much stamped me and my work. And, of course, I was influenced by the books which I read as a child. This is an image of my native landscape, where I was born. ( http://www.bernhard-oberdieck.com/image/Illustration_32.php )


Jennifer: Sense of place also includes interiors. In Germany, you have so much history in your buildings, so much atmosphere built up over centuries that the buildings have character of their own.

Floating bed and stairs by Bernhard Oberdieck

Floating bed and stairs by Bernhard Oberdieck

Would you share with us your source of inspiration and how and why you chose the particular perspectives for such wonderful creations as the following pictures ?

BERNARD: I don’t believe that here, in my Illustrative work, German history plays any special role. I always try, to make my illustrations a little more interesting for the viewer by using special perspectives. Of course I try to lure the children to explore the pictures more closely by adding in a lot of interesting, curious and imaginative little things. It is certainly more interesting for them to discover a treasure trove of unexpected details.

Jennifer: Your love of nature and keen observation come out strongly in the botanical detail of the plants and trees in your pictures. Do you draw plants and animals from life or memory or from field sketches?

BERNARD: Photos, old books, magazines and also the Internet – these are all things I use.

Jennifer: The ability to give distinctive characterisation to animals/toys is another feature of your work.

Bear & pillow by Bernhard Oberdieck

Bear & pillow by Bernhard Oberdieck

As a guide to up and coming illustrators and art students, can you describe to us how you achieve the strength of feeling, the humour and the drama in animal faces or is it something that comes instinctively?

BERNARD: I think it comes instinctively. In addition, the publishing company and the children expect figures (animals) that they can identify with from fiction and their own memories and experience with their soft animal toys. pets and zoo or farm animals. And, in addition, one must sometimes humanize them.

Jennifer: I love the drama and the humour in some of your eye-catching perspectives. Did pictures such as these come to mind spontaneously or did you work through a number

Fall by Bernhard Oberdieck

Fall by Bernhard Oberdieck

of experimental stages? Do you consciously look for extraordinary angles?

BERNARD: These pictures come to mind spontaneously. If I begin, I generally already have a picture in my head. Not always, but very often.


Jennifer: Many illustrators end up writing some of their own stories, e.g., Ian Beck and Mick Inkpen. Have you ever written any stories of your own, is that something you hope to do at some future stage? What are your plans for 2009?

BERNARD: No, I don’t write books. I simply have no time for this, because, for example, in 2009 I must illustrate 4 new picture books and certainly also other small works.

Jennifer: Time! Yes, I think you speak for all of us. I know I wish I had 24 more hours in each day! We all look forward to seeing your new projects out on the shelves. To have a peak at Bernhard’s stunning latest project go to : http://kibook.blogspot.com/

Jennifer: Finally, do you have a question that I and other interviewers have failed to ask and which you would love answer? Now is your opportunity!


BERNARD: I would  like to say that the financial earning power  of professional illustrators is something that needs exploration with a view to expanding opportunities to capitalise on output. It seems that everywhere we need to look at other ways of making our artistic output pay dividends.  Thank you for this interview.

Jennifer: My pleasure Bernhard and, yes, I hear what you are saying, dialogue is needed. For those out there looking at other options to earn with their work, check the link below to see what Bernhard is already doing in the area of merchandising.

Cards, Calendars and More

Kuchen - Cake Capers by Bernhard Oberdieck

Kuchen – Cake Capers by Bernhard Oberdieck

Skillful  ‘ merchandising’ of artistic output with spin offs as posters, cards and calendars,  as Bernhard already does, is another feather in his cap! The illustration, above, is an example of creating merchandising opportunities.

Coming soon is Bernhard’s latest book, “Cat’s Concert” . I have seen a ‘peak preview’. It is STUNNING! This book is a further outgrowth of Bernhard’s efforts in innovation.  The book will be released with an accompanying music CD collaboration with the writer.

A Peak!

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