Subsign: First, can you tell us a few things about yourself?
Sinja: My name is Sinja, I am 34 years old and live in the North of Germany with my husband, two cats (Eddie and Neve) and two pet bunnies (Tomke and Jona). I work part time as a freelance illustrator and part time as a teacher in a Kindergarten. If I am not illustrating, I love to go for long bike rides, or on camping trips with our camper van.
Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your childhood experiences have influenced your present creative endeavors?
Sinja: I grew up as the older sibling of two and have been very fortunate to have had a very lovely childhood. I was taught to work hard but also encouraged to be creative. I was given lots of tools and opportunities to discover my creativity. Lots of people in my family are very creative but especially my mother, my aunt and my cousin were the ones that influenced me the most. My mother made sure that we had something crafty to do each day and spent lots of time drawing and crafting with us. My aunt and my cousin are artists and I have been looking up to their work ever since I can remember.
Having role models that lived a creative life and also growing up in a family where there was lots of laughter and support influenced me a lot and probably gave me the courage to try this path as a freelance illustrator.
Subsign: What did you want to be as a grown up?
Sinja: I never knew what I wanted to be. All the jobs I was presented with never felt like the right fit for me. It took me quite some years and a lot of trial and error to find a job that made work seem less like a chore but more like a choice. I started working as an illustrator only at the age of 30. Now I have two jobs that I absolutely love to do. But to be honest, drawing children’s books might have been on the back of my mind since I was a child, but it felt so out of reach that I would have never dared to actually dream of drawing my own children’s books one day.
Subsign: What does your workstation look like?
Sinja: I am fortunate to have an entire room to myself in our apartment. It used to be a guest room but got converted into my office. The room has three working stations: one for illustrating and computer work (all things digital), one desk for sketching, crafting and similar work and the third station is a packing station where I pack the orders from my shop and store all the products.
I love to decorate my room with fun little things, art materials that I like to keep on display so that they are easy to grab, plants are everywhere, and the walls are covered in artworks from artists that inspire me as well as some of my own artworks. In contrast to my very minimal apartment, my office is very colorful and playful.
Subsign: Do you have a work style? How would you describe it?
Sinja: Most of my illustrations are done digitally in ProCreate on the iPad. I love to convert a traditional drawing style into digital illustrations. For that I use gouache-like or colored pencil-like brushes. I also try to make the illustrations as cozy, light and comforting as possible and enjoy adding little touches that make people smile.
Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?
Sinja: I usually get an idea for an illustration whenever I am in nature or also a lot when I am at work with the children. I have a list of illustration ideas that I always keep on me at all times. If I have the time to illustrate, I then sketch one idea in several different ways until I know exactly which version feels the best. An illustration that I draw for myself usually takes me about 4 to 5 hours and I draw a lot from the heart rather than to follow certain rules. I never choose the colors beforehand but do so as I go along. It is a very chaotic process but works really well for me. If I work with a client the process is a little different. I love to chat with the client about the illustration and the purpose of the illustration, send sketches back and forth as well as color swatches. This kind of work usually takes a lot longer than my private illustrations.
Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?
Sinja: My favorite project that I have done so far is my very own book that I wrote and illustrated myself. Illustrating children’s books in general is my favorite kind of work. It is like I said a childhood dream that now came true. I was so fortunate that I got to work with two different publishers over the last two years and besides my own book there are two other ones being published at the start of October and I am already working on the next book project.
Subsign: Who do you follow for inspiration?
Sinja: I love the work of Sven Nordquist who illustrated the stories of “Findus and Pettson”. His cozy and colorful illustrations with so much to discover have inspired me since I was a child. I also love the work of illustrators like Raahat Kaduji and the traditional feel she displays in her work. I love to follow so many different artists on Instagram and get inspired by each and every one of them. It is a very lovely community with lots of talented people.
Subsign: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?
Sinja: I would always tell people who are just starting out to draw and illustrate as much as they can and to not be afraid to practice and to also show that to others. Putting your work out there and to simply just do it is the best advice I could give, don’t be afraid to create, just create!
Subsign: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Sinja: A superpower I would love to have is being able to fly. I would love to see the world from above without having to use a tool like an airplane or a camera to do so.
Subsign: Can you recommend a book, a song and a movie, for our readers?
Sinja: My favorite book of all time, of course, is a children’s book by Sven Nordquist called “When Findus was little and disappeared”. This is such a cute book to read. Song wise I love to listen to Amasons Version of “I want to know what love is”. And “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is my all time favorite movie that I highly recommend watching.
Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what special occasion would you choose?
Sinja: I never throw parties, I am a very introverted person and don’t like big crowds. So if I could choose I would throw a tiny barbeque session on our balcony with a handful of really good friends, good music and lots of tasty food.
Subsign: What famous people would you invite to the party and why?
Sinja: I would love to meet Dave Grohl, singer of the Foo Fighters because I think he is a very interesting character and I think he would have lots of great stories to tell. Also he would very much fit into my group of friends I think.
Thank you, Sinja, for being a part of our Spotlight!
If you know an artist that should be in the spotlight, contact us at email@example.com.