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Interview with Susanne Paschke

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Meet Susanne Paschke from Berlin, Germany. Susanne works as a freelance Illustrator and Designer, she creates photorealistic illustrations using Path tools and simple color selections. In this interview, she talks about how she always wanted to be an artist, about her passion for vectors and challenge of making something emotional out of digital vectors.

1. Hello Susanne, give us a background bio on yourself.

Hello, my name is Susanne Paschke. I live and work mainly in Berlin.

2. When did you find your first calling as a digital artist? Did you have any formal training? What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?

I always knew I was an artist. I've never done anything else, I can't do anything else. I've always been too shy for any other job. I don't really like being around people. I want to have some peace and quietness, so I was like, "cool, design is my thing."

I applied for academic studies a few times, but I was always turned down. So I trained as a designer for print and digital media, which was not bad at all since I'm more of an autodidact anyway. That way I was even able to land jobs as a freelancer sooner than others.

Today I realize that this nescience  can be a blessing. So I sometimes wish that I was as free of all this business as I was back then. So the question should really be: what wouldn't I like to know?

3. What are the programs or software that you use to create your illustrations? How does your workstation look like?

For a long time I only used Freehand and I was very happy with it until my illustrations became too complex to export or print them. Calculating the numerous shapes and transparencies above gradients was not possible using Freehand.

I had to painfully divide my illustrations into small parts and export them as PNG's using flash. Sounds annoying and it really was. Last year, I started using Illustrator and I have since managed to simulate my Freehand workflow with the new program.

4. Your instrument of choice is Freehand. Why do you favor it over other vectoring tools, like Illustrator, CorelDraw, etc.? Also tell us about your favorite vectoring tool, tip or technique.

I still like Freehand – it's a challenge to really focus on the essence. Illustrator on the other hand offers plenty of amenities, but using them may often make the illustration worse. I like this edgy, style of illustration. Plus, I really get lost pretty easily using Illustrator because of the myriads of path layers. Freehand's better in that aspect. You stay within one layer until you start a new one.

I haven't used CorelDraw since school, so I don't know about its developments.

The "Insert Path Tool" is definitely my favorite Freehand tool. Using it, you can create new shapes of highlights and shadows really easily. I love it.

5. Your vectors are very detailed, clean and have the quality of photorealism, how did you come to develop this style? What is it about vectors that fascinates you?

I liked the challenge of making something emotional out of digital vectors.

So it was just a natural evolution to use more and more details in my illustrations, to always find softer nuances of colors 10%, 5% up to 2% transparencies. I just wanted to know how far I could go. Freehand put a spoke in my wheel because exporting with flash affects lots of colors.

6. Could you Walk us through your creative process?

I start, I finish and the time in between doesn't even exist. That's not a very satisfying answer is it? But, creative process is such a vast term, that it would take more time to define than to just illustrate.

7. Do you freelance full time? What do you strive for in bringing forth what the client wants? Do you enjoy doing that as much as your personal work?

Yes, I freelance full time and I have no problem with client wishes. I'm a service provider and not an artist. I get paid to find a compromise between what a client wants and what he needs. That isn't always the same thing.

Working on personal projects, I tend to fight a lot. Doing projects for clients always means having a clear-cut structure. Task, solution, compromise, deadline. Being a perfectionist, I have a hard time stopping whenever there is no set deadline.

8. Your portfolio website has a stunning design, it really complements the way vector illustrations should be showcased. How did the idea for that come about?

Probably when I was brushing my teeth because I didn't really think about it that much.

I just wanted to present my workflow and share it with the world. The functions "Show Outline" and "Show Fill" reflect my perspective. As during most of the time I spend illustrating, I also only see these shapes and lines. Right at the end, when all the shapes I created, is when I fill them with colors, transparencies and color gradients.

As far as the technical realization was concerned I was helped by two specialists, Stephan Schulz (Flash) and Marcel Eichner (Coding).

9. What are the projects in your career so far that you are proud of and which do you think have contributed in your success?

Every projects helps me getting better and more successful.

10. What do you consider your major influences to be? What are you favorite sources of inspiration, any artists or websites?

It's just natural to me that everything around me influences me. So there's not one cure-all whenever I try to find inspiration. Searching for inspiration on screendesign I check the usual suspects, such as: thefwa.com, lookom.com, etc.

When it comes to illustration though, I try not to be influenced by other illustrators, even though I appreciate other people's work. But everybody should have one's own unique style and I don't want to risk to copy somebody. In addition to that, music, fashion and urban culture still inspire me a lot. I am really lucky to have friends who introduce me to all the new trends.

11. What aspect, of your designs and illustrations reflects parts of your personality?

I like order and I hate to give up. I always complain about how much work lies ahead of me, before I start a new illustration. But once I have started, it's like meditation - I can really lose myself when I work.

12. What activities and hobbies do you enjoy when you're not on the computer designing or illustrating?

Designing and illustrating is my hobby.

13. Thanks Susanne, for the interview. What advice would you like to give to aspiring designers?

Find your own way and believe in it. It was my pleasure Sonali. Thanks a lot for your interest in my work.

Susanne Paschke on Web

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