StoryArt Exhibition 2023 Meet the Artist Katrin Dreiling
The annual StoryArt Exhibition is all set to start next month on Monday, June 26 and run until Sunday July 2 at the Richard Randall Art Studio. It will be a week of fabulous displays for everyone to enjoy.
As this is school holiday time it is ideal to bring children in to view and enjoy some artwork, meet the artists and maybe buy a carefully chosen piece of art to take home.
Books featuring the work of the illustrators will be on sale as well as a carefully curated selection of their artwork.
Katrin Dreiling is one of the four talented artists who will have her work on show and for sale.
Katrin is a German-born language teacher but moved to Australia with her husband and three children and became an illustrator.
Katrin creates quirky illustrations that feature different media. Her first picture book The World’s Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington has been awarded Notable Book 2018 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and she also delivered illustrations for a highly successful video animation production on YouTube.
Katrin was awarded the Harper Collins Illustrators Showcase Award 2019 at the biannual SCBWI conference in Sydney. In 2021 her first authored and illustrated picture book A Perfect Pig published by Scholastic Australia was released and quickly followed by If You Ever Meet A Skeleton written by Rebecca Evans and published by Page Street Kids.
In 2022 Katrin has illustrated two more picture books Cicada Sing Song written by Pat Simmons and Granny Smith written by Michelle Worthington. In her free time she loves to hang with her family and her two Golden Retrievers Loki and Trudy. She also helps coordinating illustrators for the Queensland SCBWI team and features illustrator interviews at Book Kids Review.
She kindly agreed to be interviewed by StoryLinks
What were your favourite illustrations/illustrator as a child? Why/how did you respond to them? Did they inspire you?
Growing up in Germany, I was exposed to a lot of different European children’s literature, but my favourite has always been Astrid Lindgren’s work. Her classic Pippi Longstocking has also been illustrated by a German illustrator named Rolf Rettich whose ink drawings in a very wonky perspective I just adored.
Other books of Astrid Lindgren I could not get enough of were Lotta’s adventures with her family and everyday life, beautifully illustrated by the Swedish illustrator Ilon Wikland. Again, I was fascinated by Ilon’s perspective on things or rather it didn’t even occur to me to perceive it as “different” or “special”. To me, that was just how quirky the world could look like.
Another great influence on my work were German illustrators Winnie Gebhardt and F.J. Tripp. They both illustrated the works of the amazing storyteller Otfrid Preussler who up to this day inspires me by his plot weaving and the creation of fascinating main characters.
All of theses artists build their illustrations upon ink line work, sometimes coloured. I just love the vintage feel of this medium and try to incorporate it in my work as much as possible.
Is/are there artist/s working today that you admire? Why? Is there someone you look up to now?
There are most certainly many artists who I admire both personally and for their work. If I have to cut my selection down to three, I would name Caroline Magerl whose work is just chicken soup for my soul. She also gave me precious professional advice a few years ago which helped me immensely. Beatrice Alemagna’s work is also a huge inspiration to me as she redefined the “rules” of what is trend or even possible in illustration. Last but not least, when I feel flat and not sure of how to refresh my own work, I always go back to Russell Ayto’s wonderfully wonky and quirky illustrations. They never fail to make me smile and move forward.
What is your preferred medium to work in? Why? Do you have more than one preferred medium?
I love to mix up my media as I get easily bored by doing the same thing. However, I always come back to my five standard forms of media that I usually combine: traditional gouache, watercolour, coloured pencils, ink and lastly digital. My process on how I decide which medium I will use in what combination is probably rather unconventional and depends mostly on colour. When I get a manuscript from a publisher to work on, I always try to capture a certain atmosphere for the story with the help of colour. I then check my art supply and depending on which medium delivers that specific colour combo in the best possible way, I choose the medium.
Where and when and how do you work? Could you describe the process from commission to finished product – we would love to know what goes on in your head.
When it comes to working hours, I have always been very disciplined – after school drop off I usually spend the rest of the day at my desk with only a short lunch break. I have always loved that this profession has given me a certain flexibility and when my children were little I would always spend after school hours with them and then go back to work after they have gone to bed.
What does go on in my head while working? I think I would describe it as a diving into different worlds. I usually listen to detective or classic folktale audio plays while working on a picture book which enhances that effect. Sometimes I need quite a while to come back to reality. Other days I work on promoting my work/ brand, prepare competition entries or conduct workshops for grown ups or children. This part of my work obviously is less dreamy but I love both sides of my job.
Can you tell us something about the pieces that you are going to exhibit at the Richard Randall Art Studio? Why did you choose these? Are any significant in any way?
I have spent some time at the Botanical Gardens recently in preparation for a new picture book I am working on and looked specifically at insect and small animal life. My selection of work for this showcase has been inspired by that. Also, I picked one of my all time favourite main characters Anton Pig as he represents my first illustrated AND authored picture book.
How would you describe your art style? Is this something that happened or that you worked for?
Personally, I would describe my style as friendly, colourful and hopefully refreshing. What others usually say about my style is that it looks European, quirky and fun and I am happy with that. I aim to make both kids and adults smile and forget how serious life can be and always work hard to improve my work and innovate it. In that sense I would agree, yes, that part of my style is something I have worked for. However, a lot of things that people point out in my work as “quirky or “special” don’t even seem special to me which probably means it happened unconsciously.
When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist? Another way of asking this question is what was your first paid job as an artist?
As a child and teenager I have always loved to work creatively and I also did a lot of writing. However, my personal situation back then was such that going for a creative profession just didn’t seem possible. I studied German and English literature at uni instead and became a high school teacher in Germany. This career was interrupted by both having small children and moving to Australia and I soon realised that teaching did not fulfil my creative side at all. Gradually I moved away from teaching and highly inspired by all the children’s literature I consumed together with my three kids, I began building a career as an illustrator. It took a while as I am completely self-taught. Also, this profession is very multi-faceted and requires you to wear many hats.
Where would you like to be in ten years’ time – artistically speaking.
In ten years time I would still love to illustrate children’s books on a regular basis and actually be satisfied with my work every now and then.
Thank you Katrin for taking the time to answer our questions.
Come and meet Katrin at the StoryArt Exhibition Up Late
Friday 30 June, 5 pm – 8 pm at the Richard Randall Art Studio