Anne attended College of Art in Hamburg, Germany (Fachhochschule fuer Gestaltung), from which she graduated in 1995 with a degree in illustration. Right after earning her degree she moved to Maui/Hawaii. She has been working as a freelance illustrator, painter and designer, working for advertising agencies, design studios and publishers for nearly 20 years in Maui.
She has worked on a variety of projects including product packaging, advertising, publishing, point of purchase displays and animation backgrounds.
Here is Anne explaining her process:
My work process creating one out of 44 cards for the “Oracle Deck of Flowers”.
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Author: Tess Whitehurst
For this oracle card, I am asked to show a heroic woman blowing a horn standing amidst a field of blossoming foxgloves. The title of the card is “Summon your Courage – Foxglove”
I start out with a black and white line sketch. To get the pose right, I often use the help of another application: Poser
I work on two monitors. Monitor One is the smallest of the Cintique tablets, monitor two is a 30 “ Dell. On the Dell I have several documents open showing reference images as well as an additional window of the current illustration I am working on. The Cintique will have only my illustration window open as well as show a window with my brush presets and another one for layers.
While I work I constantly go back and forth between painting on the Cintique and evaluating my illustration on the Dell. The Dell I have color calibrated. I always work in a CMYK color space when working on print projects.
I do a very quick color sketch. On this card, I feel confident about how I want the colors to be, so I decide not spend too much time on the color sketch.
I desaturate the color sketch to have it in black and white.
I add a muliply layer over my black and white sketch and use a soft brush to paint over it in orange.
I usually start with the background, in this case the sky. I always use textures in my Photoshop brushes. My main brush has a texture, I made myself by applying acrylic gel to a board, painting it black and and dry brushing white over it.
I have a texture library of splatters, ice , fabric, rocks, marble etc. anything that will make a nice texture. While I work I often choose different textures.
For the sky I chose a splatter texture. I put the sky on one layer and the clouds on another. On layer three I have my Poser
figure on layer 4 my sketch. I want to create a dramatic sky, somehow evoking a feeling of fire or a battle far away.
As soon as I have roughed in the sky, I start working on the figure. At this stage I work fairly rough, as I want to paint in all the elements of the illustration before I get into more detail. It is always so tempting to get detailed too soon, only to realize later, that some of the detail does not work with other parts of the illustration.
Next I rough in the foxgloves and start working on her face. Now that all the elements of the illustration are in place it is time to fine tune. I put several layers of paint over the sky. Sometimes lightening the sky up with heavily textured brushes and then toning everything back down by adding a multiply layer and glazing a shade of blue or magenta over the sky.
I am working similarly when working on her clothes and face. Here I just stick to my main texture brush. I lift her left arm a bit, to make the pose a little bit more dynamic and add all the highlights for her clothing and on the flowers.
Almost all elements of the illustration are on different layers. Flowers on one, leaves on another, her legs, her skirt, belts, west etc. Having everything on different layers makes it easier to work and rework each part.
And that is pretty much it!
How long have you lived in Maui?
I moved here in 1995, right after I finished art school in Germany.
How long have you been illustrating?
I have been illustrating as a professional and full time since 1995, after I got my degree in illustration from the college of art in Hamburg/Germany. But I have been pretty much done some form of art my whole life.
Did you study art in college? If so, where?
Yes! I went to the “Fachhochschule for Gestaltung” in Hamburg (college of design).
What were you favorite classes in college?
My favorite class in college was “Educational Illustration,” as well as life drawing and painting.
Did the School help you get work?
They didn’t really help us get work, but found publishers that wanted to work with us, while we were still students.
Our illustration class did several projects for different publishers.
Together with 5 students I illustrated one of my first books for a German publisher (Frankh Kosmos) with the title “Animals at the Coast and the Beach” (�Tiere an Strand und K�ste).
On another assignment we designed and illustrated an exhibition for a marine biology institute.
What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?
Right after High School, I interned for two years in an illustration and design studio. During my internship I was fortunate enough to illustrate some book covers that my boss otherwise would have done himself.
What type of job did you do right after you graduated?
While still in college, I worked for a big German publisher, doing layout for several magazines as well as teaching computer graphics on the Mac. After I graduated I started my career as a freelance illustrator.
Do you think the classes you took in college or living in paradise influenced your style?
Neither one and both to a certain extent. It has helped me to have an education in the arts. No doubt, all my art classes in college have given me a strong foundation to work as an illustrator. Nevertheless, I feel life has influenced me the most. Right after college, I felt I needed to learn soooo much more than what they had taught me in college and even now, almost 20 years after I graduated I am still learning with every single project that I take on. I think Maui’s abundance of natural beauty, lushness and bright colors, are in sync with my need for nature, beauty and color in my life and work.
Do you do a lot of art shows and exhibits? Is that how you got noticed?
No, I don’t do any art shows and exhibits at the moment. After I had my two children in 2001 and 2003, I wanted more freedom in my creative process. So I did a lot of plein air painting. For about three years, I painted mostly on sight in oil all over Maui. I really enjoyed this time. It taught me so much about painting, landscapes, color, light etc. I exhibited and sold my paintings in my husbands gallery close to where we live.
When did you do your the first illustration for children?
For my thesis in college we had to pick a larger project to illustrate. I decided to write and illustrate a picture book about a family of barn owls. To complete my thesis, I only needed to create the concept and 5 illustrations. I had a lot of fun writing the story and illustrating it. Instead of just the required 5 illustrations, I did all the illustrations for the book. It turned out so well, that the same publisher I worked for before, picked it up and published it the next year.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?
I never was set on just illustrating books. Right now, I actually prefer shorter projects.
How did get the contract for the “Food Chain” book series?
I got the contract for the “Food Chain” series, by doing a lot of cold calls and got lucky to give Capstone/Picture Books at the right time when they were looking for somebody to illustrate “Food Chains”.
Have you worked with educational publishers?
All my children’s books have been geared towards the educational market. I just recently worked for University Press and did some illustrations for a few school books.
How many children’s books have you illustrated?
If I counted right a total of 10.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?
Not at the moment.
Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?
I did some illustrations for Highlights and Cricket Magazine.
Do you have an artist rep.? If so, who? And how did you connect with them?
I am repped by Steve Munro of Munro Campagna in Chicago. When I felt In needed a rep, I looked up all the reps, who represented illustrators that I either admired or where similar in style to me. I then sent out e-mails with samples of my work and Steve took me on.
What types of things did you do to market your work?
I always think I should be doing more and I definitely could improve a lot in terms of marketing myself. I market myself by showcasing my work in the Workbook, the ISpot, as well as CreativeSource in Canada. I occasionally send out postcards. I used to do email blasts, but have not found that sending mass e-mails produces great results. I am just in the process of redoing my own webpage and am determined, once done to blog about my process on a more regular basis.
What is your favorite medium to use?
These days it is digital.
Has that changed over time?
At the beginning of my career I did all my work in acrylics and used a mix of airbrush and acrylic painting. I switched to digital in 2010 and have not regretted it, even though I miss not having originals anymore
Do you have a studio in your house?
Yes, my studio is in our house.
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
My Cintique tablet.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
I usually start my workday between 6 and 7 am. I am an early morning person, which makes communicating with the East Coast a lot easier. I take in between 30 minutes and an hour each day to do things that are not related to doing my craft. Usually these are my least favorite subjects and the ones I procrastinate the most about: marketing, office tasks, writing bills (which actually should be considered fun), blogging and currently it is working on my new webpage (which I actually really do enjoy)
The rest of the day is devoted to working on my illustrations..
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
Yes! Depending on the project, I might take photos, ask a friend, my children or even a stranger to model for me and /or do a lot of research on the internet.
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
I couldn’t live without it. For my most recent project of illustrating 44 Tarot cards, I must have collected thousands of reference images.
What do you tell was your biggest success?
My first Celestial Seasonings illustration is just now gracing one of their new tea boxes: Apple Caramel Dreams.
Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?
Yes. Photoshop is my main application I use when illustrating.
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
I started out on an Intuous and upgraded to a Cintique last year.
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
Next year I want to learn Maya and start getting into 3D.
What are you working on now?
I currently am working on a deck of 44 Tarot or oracle cards. The deck will be called “The Oracle Deck of Flowers”
Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
My favorite tool is my Cintique. Before I got it, I never thought it would make such a difference in my work. I was using the Intuous graphic tablet before,which seemed fine to me at that time. But actually drawing on a monitor is such a big improvement. I love it.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
A good mix of talent coupled with perseverance, stubbornness, and a burning desire to create will help a lot in becoming a successful writer or illustrator.
Thank you Anne for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You can visit Anne at: http://www.annewertheim.com
If you have a moment I am sure Anne would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if I don’t always have time to reply. Thanks!