Discover how this German creative fell back in love with illustration…
Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your art? I grew up in a little village near Bonn, Germany. I’m not quite sure how this has influenced my art. But there was a huge forest near my hometown where we used to regularly play as children. So maybe that’s one reason why I love to paint trees and nature-related objects. Furthermore, the first artist whose work I recognised was August Macke, who was born in Bonn. What advice would you give to your younger self to aid you on the way? Keep doing your thing. Don’t stop drawing. Don’t be insecure. Don’t play so many computer games instead of drawing. Be patient, because everything needs time, understanding and a lot of practice. Tell us about your first paid commission, and does it stand as a representation of your talent? I worked as a web designer for some years after I studied design, so my first paid illustration job was a design for a website with illustrated elements. That was the first time I had drawn again after many years. I found it difficult, but in the end I was happy with the result, and it gave me back the joy of drawing and painting, which I had lost during my time at university.
Afterwards, a lot of different people started to ask me for illustrations, or designs with illustrated elements. Then, more or less by coincidence, a production company asked me to produce character designs for an international children’s film with animated creatures. I won the pitch and worked further on this film, together with the producers and the 3D studio for several months. And so my focus shifted towards illustration work. What’s the last piece that you finished, and how do the two artworks differ? My style has changed drastically over the past few years, because after I rediscovered my interest in illustration, I experimented a lot and I had to learn many things. So my style developed over time. My last piece, which you can see on my Instagram channel (@ iraville) is a little illustration called Camping Girl, in watercolours and pencils. What are your painting rituals? I take my time, which is crucial – I have to be totally relaxed. A musthave is either a freshly brewed coffee or a delicious tea. I listen to a TV series or an audio book while I paint. I work on several illustrations at the same time, because I use watercolours with a lot of layers that need a long time to dry. Do you have an art tool that you can’t live without? Too many! A pencil. I prefer red pencils instead of graphite. As for watercolours, I can paint with just a few. I filled a little tin with just six colours, some of them are mixed from pigments I bought. I need a round and pointed brushes and of course, watercolour paper or a mixed media sketchbook. That’s it. Is making a living as an artists all you thought it would be? No, it’s probably better. But I never planned to be an artist because once upon a time I was a designer. Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde, aka Iraville, is an illustrator and character designer. She works for a range of industries including film and TV studios, book publishers and design agencies. You can see her work at www.iraville.de.
Don’t stop drawing. Don’t be insecure. Don’t play so many computer games
“Watercolour on paper, painted for my own corporate design.” “I created this for a German calendar, using watercolours and coloured pencils.” Knitting Birchtree Forest