As soon as I saw Anna Hermsdorf’s prints I knew I just had to reach out and catch her for a Featured Artist Interview. I love the graphic illustrative style she has, and of course her colour palette is right up my street!
Thankfully she agreed to answer my questions…
So, how long have you been printing?
I really started printmaking this year, at the end of July. It’s actually only five months now that I’m printing! But because I have been doing this quite intensively from the beginning, it seems to me to be much longer.
Are you self taught or what’s your background? Printmaking is a pretty old school format, I know i’d never heard of it till I went to Art School!
Yes, mostly self taught through observing how others do it! I had a course in lino printing at the university, where I studied product design – that helped of course and I did not started from scratch. But when I bought all the printing materials in July, I just started and did it the way I thought it was right. You can quickly find out what works and what doesn’t!
I love printmaking! It’s a process with so many stages that a lot of people find time consuming and annoying but I love that each piece takes so long to create. It seems a lot more purposeful than other mediums. What do you like most/least about working in this way?
I love the many stages, they make it so varied! For each stage I have my own media and tools but everything builds on each other. The carving part may be my favorite because it is very meditative. But actually the whole process is rewarding from start to finish. However, sometimes I don’t like the length of the process, especially when I’m already looking forward to my next project. Then I get impatient. But I always finish my current project before I start the next one.
Do you have a home studio or somewhere else you work from?
I live with my boyfriend and we have furnished the largest room of the apartment as a workroom. We are constantly optimizing it. Since he is also an artist and illustrator, we have the same need for space for our materials and work. I can’t imagine switching to a studio at the moment, I’d really miss that at home, although there are advantages.
What’s a typical week for you?
I am working part time and the rest of the time I put into my illustrations, the administrative stuff, like customer acquisition, website maintenance, uploading new prints to Etsy, Social Media … it consumes a lot of time, but is also fun. So typically I work for my business until bedtime and in all my free time, including weekends.
I really like your style and colour combinations. Can you let us in on what inspires you?
I started with black at the beginning but I found it hard to express myself in a single colour and on a single layer. I’ve always loved pink and pastel colours and thought it was time to use them in my work. I do most of this intuitively. Inspiration comes from everything I see and that pleases me – but it’s mostly artificial things, like other art. This can be a picture, a movie or even a passage in a book that forms into an image in my head.
Your work has a great graphic design/illustrative feel to it, how long did it take for you to develop your style or is it constantly changing/evolving?
I do exactly what I enjoy and work on it in a very focused way. I feel like I move between the disciplines of design and art. I am really drawn to reduction and minimalism, but I also like “meaningless decor”. So I always have a balancing act between what’s essential, what adequately describes a theme, and what I think is pretty. I can totally imagine evolving this style one day by experimenting more – for now I am very satisfied with my way of doing it. When I feel too comfortable i’m sure to look for new methods and techniques.
How do you choose a specific theme? Do you start with one object and build from there or…?
It varies hugely. Either I choose my topic from a current interest I have or pick up suggestions from my instagram followers. Sometimes I have to do some research before I can start, other times I start the sketch from a vision and then see how far I can get before I need inspiration. I really do a lot of intuitive work here, without long-term planning. Besides, there are some fixed characteristics, the pose for example, a few elements that appear again and again. I like to be surprised myself!
I see you always sketch out your designs digitally beforehand. That’s a great way to play about before committing to a print. What makes you continue with a physical hand carved print over just getting your digital designs printed?
I simply love the touch and feel of the paper, the silky gloss of the ink, its smell and texture and the awareness that you have created something completely of your own! I don’t have to go to the print shop to get an image of the original that can be replicated x times, because I create an original each time. The individual layers are also always somewhat shifted in comparison to the previous one, here and there some color is missing which gives the picture an outdated look. Each print is very unique and authentic! I plan to offer my drawings as art prints, because they have a great value as well but they remain reproducible images and my craft process ends with the completion of the picture.
Each piece seems to tell a story, some have a lot going on! Is that important to you, the storytelling element? Why?
I’m actually a storyteller. Breathing life into my motifs was a logical step for me. I spend so much time with my girl characters so they deserve a name. And beyond that also a personality, a few key data. For me, storytelling is a great motivation. It stimulates my imagination, in which elements play an important role. They strengthen the connection to my creations. I’m always a bit in love with the characters and proud of them, I think that’s very important. To love what you create. If you are convinced of what you are doing, you can also convince others and infect them with your fire.
What’s in the future for your you and your work?/Where can we find you? ?
Well I have very big ambitions for the future, but until then I set myself smaller goals. I want to see my illustrations on packaging and products and in magazines one day. That’s a dream of the future, but I’m working on it! For 2019 I registered for a convention called “Dokomi” in Düsseldorf, Germany on 8th and 9th of June. This is an Anime- and Japanexpo with a big offer of artists who have their own booths and sell prints. But there are more to come! Until then you can buy my prints on Etsy!