When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Quite late, I think when I was about 30. I used to work as a teacher and realised I could use drawing as a way of engaging the children I was teaching. That was probably the first point when I realised that there might be something in pursuing it.
Where do you get your inspiration: music, art, films, your friends?
Probably all of those things. I’ve seen quite a lot of art over the past couple of weeks that has been really inspiring but, although it’s a bit of a cliché to say it, I think inspiration often comes from unexpected places so it’s good to just always be open to it.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why? Do you have a favourite pen or paper?
I produce my final illustrations on the computer but always need to sketch with pencil on paper first. I work right next to a huge art supply shop so am constantly coming back with new favourite pens and pencils. I like working on cheap recycled office paper when I’m coming up with ideas though; it’s good to sketch a lot and not worry that you’re wasting valuable paper.
What attracted you to where you live? Do you think your location has influenced your style?
I live in Berlin, which is still a really special place. There are so many things I love about it, but mostly it’s the city’s bizarre and turbulent history that, for me, makes it a fascinating place to live.
You illustrated the cover for SHOP Holland for autumn/winter 2013/14; do you know Holland well? Do you have any great memories of travelling there?
My first visit to Holland was probably my best. It was about early January in either 1999 or 2000 and Amsterdam was really cold and really quiet and I just enjoyed walking around by myself while everyone else was sleeping off their hangovers. It was more fun than it sounds!
What did you start with when designing the cover for SHOP Holland?
I was actually on a delayed train from Cologne to Berlin, so I sat and sketched ideas for two or three hours. It’s a simple process, just thinking about possible symbols that I could use and then sketching and playing with them to see what works. I’ll usually end up with quite a lot of not-so-great ideas and three or four that I think could work.
Did it turn out the way you expected?
This one needed quite a bit of fine tuning to get right. Sometimes it goes exactly as planned and sometimes it takes a few versions to get there. I enjoy pretty much all aspects of making the work but the one that gives me the most satisfaction is probably the initial ideas stage. It’s a really good feeling when you know you’ve managed to solve the problem.
What should SHOP readers not miss when they visit Holland or your home town? What are your favourite places to shop?
I’m going to shamelessly plug my friends’ shop in Berlin, not just because they are my friends, but because they have a brilliant shop. Raum Italic is run by a really friendly Italian couple who sell an interesting and unexpected selection of books and design objects, and is located on a quiet street in the northern part of Prenzlauer Berg.
Which five items will you never travel without?
Pen, pencil, paper, penknife and a book to read. I flew to England with my daughter this morning so my bag was filled with a very unglamorous selection of wipes, tissues, fruit, biscuits and children’s books.
And finally, what would your dream commission be?
I’ve always said a New Yorker cover, but at the moment I have a few self-initiated ideas that I would love to get off the ground.