Filled with whimsical women, elegant animals and calming foliage, Karolin Schnoor's illustrations offer a sense of calm in a world that can often be quite the opposite. Her use of bold colours and charming characters caught our eye a while back so we asked her to help visualise what we do - and her take on our colourful community was just the ticket.
Karolin is German born, but like many millennials before her, has lived all over: London, New York and now sunny Bournemouth. We caught up with her to talk about city living, artistic collaboration, the freelance life and how to get inspired.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming an illustrator? How did you know it was for you? Did you always draw?
I enjoyed art very much in high school so I applied to do a Foundation degree at Chelsea College of Art in London. It quickly became clear to me that Illustration was my favourite subject, so I went on to do a BA in Illustration at LCC. I did always draw but I think I hadn’t realised that this career path combines a lot of different things. I enjoy the freelance nature of it, the fact that you work for different clients all the time and I don’t even mind the admin. You have to fulfil a lot of different roles and I really like that part of it!
Many of your illustrations have a feeling of serenity. Is this something you aim for or does it just happen?
This is so great to hear! I think serenity is something I strive for generally, mostly because life often doesn’t feel that way so perhaps there’s something about having complete control over an illustration that makes it easier to achieve it there. I like to approach all drawings from a sense of shapes and balance so perhaps that's also why!
Is music a big influence and if so, what are you listening to at the moment?
I actually listen obsessively to podcasts while I work. I find music too soothing, so I need something more structured. My current favourites are Secret Dinosaur Cult, Hidden Brain and a German interview podcast called Hotel Matze.
Are there any other references, films, fashion, music, or art that have been helpful to you recently?
I recently watched Plus One which is a very mellow and sweet romantic comedy and I really loved the colours in that, a lot of the outfits the protagonists wear are extremely satisfying to see on screen, in terms of colour and pattern.
How does a city filter into your creations? Where do you like to work and get your inspiration from in New York for example?
The best place to work in New York for me was at home, away from all the madness! But being able to go museums like the Met is certainly one of the perks of such a big city. And people do dress amazingly there. I'd often see an outfit on the streets or the subway that would inform the colour palette of a later illustration. The work was all done for me!
We loved the design you did for Stephen Fry’s Mythos. How did you approach that project? Did you learn any fun mythology stories along the way?
This was a cover for Chronicle so much of the art direction came from them. I did get a chance to read the text and got extremely distracted by all the stories and the way Stephen Fry was retelling them. My main objective was to capture his light and satirical approach to storytelling and to not show the characters in too serious a light. We played with a very classical type layout and illustration style but brought in some contemporary facial expressions to mix it up a little bit. The Greek gods were absolutely ridiculous!
At The Collective we’re big fans of collaboration. Can you tell us about any collaborations that have shaped you and your art?
I’m actually enjoying working on my own at the moment, but I do really enjoy a good art director/illustrator relationship. I’ve done drawings here and there for the New York Times for a long time and their art directors have been really amazing to work with. I feel like my work has grown so much from getting their feedback and they’ve pointed out and noticed things about how I work that I wasn’t aware of.
Similarly, I really enjoy all my collaborations with The Future Kept, a beautifully curated online store. They have a very strong visual identity so it’s really nice to make illustrations within their framework. Since their colour palette is very minimal and muted it’s been a great way for me to break out of my reliance on colour to explore more detailed line work.
And finally, what things would you love to do with your work that you’re yet to do?
Ooh good question. I’d like to do more applied illustration since it’s something I really enjoy. I also like to illustrate packaging and would really love to do textiles someday too!