FK chat to now Brisbane based artist Heiko Windisch about his black and white creations.
How would you describe your work to our readers??
My work is a black and white cosmos leaking bright colours, showcasing different worlds and alien planets, animals, technology and the occasional grim reaper.
Your wife is also a successful illustrator. How did you both meet, and how do you influence each other?
Illustration is a business that heavily relies on making use of the internet, there are hundreds of platforms, communities and websites devoted to spreading your work and meeting other illustrators. I came across Lil’s work one day, decided to get in contact with her, and here we are now, married for 4 years and counting! We sometimes encourage each other to do more of this and less of that or try out something else, but we also realise that our tastes are not everything that counts and that other people might love what we don’t. We both have pretty strong artistic visions, as they say, so there’s not much hands-on guidance needed.
What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been creative, doodling, playing with legos, making zines. I was the creative guy in my class. After high school I studied Spanish and History, still doodling in my free time, putting my drawings on the internet. After a while I landed some gigs, my work spread further, I was invited to participate in gallery shows and soon I was on enough of a roll to go into Illustration full-time. It’s the greatest job!
What materials do you enjoy working with?
I feel most comfortable with pen on paper, but I’ve recently started making more digital illustrations, and I paint, too. Whenever I get stuck I try doing something different to get out of the rut, like sculpture, and over the years my portfolio has expanded in all sorts of ways. I’ve done small figurines with polymer clay, made small dioramas in wooden frames I made myself, I’ve done a 3 metre high totem pole-like installation for an illustration festival in Berlin. It’s important to get out of the routine once in a while, and I enjoy staying unpredictable, especially to myself.
You’ve lived and traveled around the world. Where are some of your personal highlights?
When we go to cities we usually first go to the big museums, like the Musée d’Orsay in Paris or the British Museum in London or the NGV in Melbourne, then we try to find the creative neighbourhoods. Usually it’s the eastern part of town (East End, London / East Berlin / Fitzroy, Collingwood in Melbourne, etc.), it’s where the second hand stores, makeshift galleries and organic chai latte cafés reside. There’s always something that binds those areas together, but it’s their differences that make things interesting. Each city has their own hipster archetype, so to say, and s/he changes all the time. Everything is global, but what’s cool in Chicago can be loathed in Berlin, etc. The best thing you can do is make friends with people across the globe and let them be your guide when you visit. There’s so much great stuff out there, you just have to stay curious.
Where do you get inspiration for your pieces and how does an idea begin?
I like wacky, extraordinary things. I’ve got plenty of illustrated books at home, be it about exotic bugs, alchemy illustrations, vintage holiday posters or old field guides. I soak it all up, let it simmer a bit and when time comes an idea will rise from the soup and that’s when you really can’t wait to get to your drawing desk and make it happen. I love going to book stores, especially messy ones with big reference book sections, or focusing on art and design. Some of my favourite stores are museum or gallery stores, because they often have amazing ranges of great art books next to weird toys and great stationery (and no bestseller novel advertisements to distract from all the “crap”!). Blogs can be a good source, too, though they can be overwhelming and counterproductive. You’ve got to get away from the box and sit down with bound paper, or your scatterbrain will never shut up.