Featured Artist – Jojo Ensslin

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How and when did you know that you wanted to become an illustrator?
I always thought that I wanted to make movies, so during my studies I mostly made animations, short movies and music-clips. But for that, and other small jobs that I did, I was drawing a lot and after a while I realized that I could earn my money doing it and became an illustrator.
I was always drawing since the time my brother showed me how to use a pencil. Of course, I didn’t think of becoming an Illustrator when I was young – actually at this time I dreamed of becoming a farmer and growing world famous tomatoes.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Life, love, friends, travelling… well, that’s too superficial. I would say authors like Boris Vian and Douglas Adams, filmmakers like David Lynch and Dennis Hopper. Artists like Warhol and Egon Schiele really made me start reflecting and thinking about my own perceptions. But the wonderful worlds and stories my fiancée and I create are the biggest source of inspiration for me.

What is your earliest memory of creating art? (or drawing as a child)
When I was about 5 years old we lived in Neanderthal (yes, exactly this place). I remember grinding up stones that produced different colours. I did it with a whole big pile of rocks and in the end I had my first piece of “Landart”.

What type of environment do you prefer to work in? At home or in a studio? Listening to music?
At night in the summer, with good music (Scout Niblett or Cat Power) and no phone ringing.

As a working illustrator, do you still find time to create art for yourself?
Sure.

What type of transition needs to be made between creating art for yourself and creating
art that is commissioned?

That’s easy. In free work for myself I can do whatever I want to and just listen to opinions or suggestions that I want to hear. In commissioned work I have to satisfy at least two “persons”: the client and myself. Sometimes there are many more (agencies, girlfriends of the Director, the therapist of the Art Director etc.) so it can get a bit more complicated. In these cases I mostly have to forget that I want to be satisfied with the end product as well.

What type of artwork do you have hanging in your home?
There is a wonderful piece by Mario Wagner, one drawing by Frauke Berg, one by Moki, a couple of drawings from dasha (RDW) and two woodprints of my own.

What accomplishment so far in your life stands out as most important?
Getting through all the pain, fear and throwbacks for months to keep my right hand after I got bitten by a cat!

Who was the first illustrator that you noticed and admired?
Hergé with “Les Aventures de Tintin”.

Are there any other current illustrators that you feel you identify with or share a similar style?
Not in sharing styles, but humour. One of the greatest for me is Lewis Trondheim and also Tim Biskup.

How do you deal with negative criticism?
If they are right, they are right. But I always remember when, how and under what circumstances things are done or created. So I can also be forgiving with myself.

What is your favorite way to get out of a creative block?
Surfing and listening to music. If all that doesn’t work, I grab a sheet of paper and start writing and I stop when the page is full. It doesn’t matter what I write, the only importance is that I don’t stop and think in between. Fabulous output sometimes!

Is there any one publication that you still have aspirations to see yourself in?
Only one? 😉 Okay, there would be an animated film on ARTE (French-German broadcasting station) and… well, there are too many. Oh well: childrens Books!

What magazines do you personally read?
DER SPIEGEL, DIE ZEIT, Les Inrocuptibles, and a friend gives me all her fashion magazines, but mostly I don’t read them, I just flip through the pages.

What are your goals for your future as an illustrator?
Become famous and live a good life. Of course, work on my style, become better and faster.

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