Paul Paetzel from Berlin, Germany.
Please introduce yourself to MAPS readers.
My name is Paul Paetzel. I am an illustrator who lives and works in Berlin where I was also born in 1984. Besides comics and illustration I like tasty food, the cinema and karate.
As well as working as an illustrator you’ve started comic collective, Édition Biografiktion, with Ana Albero and Till Hafenbrak. How did this come about and why did you decide to start?
Ana, Till and I met at the illustration class of the university of the arts Berlin in 2006. 2008 We started to work together because we became friends and liked each others work. We wanted to do a comic-zine together. Choosing a topic we thought that it would be the easiest if we would all do stories about the same person, describing her or him from different perspectives. So we came up with the idea to use celebrities as main characters and tell fictional stories about them. Biografiktion means half biography half fiction. The best part of working with other illustrators is that you do things you wouldn´t do while working alone. You have to face other ideas and ways of working which can be difficult but also add a lot to the final result.
What about your process of working: do you use a combination of hand-drawn work and digital? Do you have a specific process for creating your illustrations?
I always draw the linework by hand with different tools like pens, pencils or brushes. I do a lot of coloring on the computer. But I like the results much better when I handcolor them or if the illus/comics get intersting structures from the printing process like silk screen, risography or lino cut. I want to tell stories with single pictures or secuentially. The easiest way is to use humans or animals which can move from picture to picture, have emotions, need to solve problems or getting new ones, interact with each other and so on. I don´t have a specific process, it depends on a lot of different things. If I have to work for a client the basic idea is already given and I have to sculpt the illustration towards that direction. If I work for my own I just do what I want at that time. Sometimes I work with references sometimes not at all. Sometimes I try to be realistic sometimes to draw in a more comic kind of style. I guess it depends on the mood and in which direction I feel like going.
Are there types of illustration that you most like working on, for example, publications or zines, or for albums? What is it that attracts you to these sorts of illustrations?
When I am drawing I always want to tell stories. That is the most important. I don´t like one way better than the other. But I guess what is important to me is that the illustration has some kind of narrative. If I draw a tree I also want to know the history of it. Where it grew, what is the surrounding, are there characters interacting with it and so on.
What makes you keep drawing?
I am inspired by everything which happens to me day by day. Everydays life, fears, moments of happiness, sadness, friends, situations, the news, movies, books, theater… Drawing is a very efficient way of catalyzing all those things to the paper. I also realize what is more important to me and what is worth dealing with at least several hours for single drawings or even weeks, months and years for comics. These must be the things which really went through or inside my body and stay there until I release them through the pencil.
What do you think is the most important when you draw?
Some idea or thought which I want to follow even if it is a very small one.
Your drawings usually describe future atmosphere. What is the most exciting of what is referred to as future technology?
What I think is interesting of sci-fi scenarios is that our reality is shown but in a slightly different light. If you present a person taking the bus from one station to another in a realistic environment you maybe don´t see all the oddities which come by taking the bus. Just because you are so much used to it. If you draw a future bus ride and shift reality a bit you might see clearer what strange things you have to do or what happens in-between the stations. My future technology is never something completely new it is always stuff we are using today giving it a future look.
It is funny. This year all Berlin students leaving high school got a newspaper article which was illustrated by me in their final english exams. The article was speaking about robots replacing humans at work. The students had to interpret the article and my drawing and speak about the connections between them. I would love to read what they said and what they think about future technology as so much has changed since I left high school. By the way I did not know about that exam. A friend of mine who is a teacher realized it when she was correcting the tests as a second conciliator.
What do you think is the most important qualification in living as a illustrator?
You really need to love what you are doing, need to somehow now where you want to go (without necessarily having a specific aim or goal in mind) You need to be persistent and don´t count too much on the opinions of others referring to your way of living.
Berlin is always talked about as a place constantly developing. Do the people and the city influence the way you work?
As everything surrounding me influences my work also the city and the people are influencing me. The protagonists in my stories are always under some kind of pressure they never walk, they always run, always have to do something, working or rescuing themselves from whatever they have to rescue themselves from. I don´t know what would happen to my stories If I would live in a bigger and even more noisy city like New York, London or Paris.
Where is your favorite spots in Berlin?
The big park of Tiergarten.
How do you think the day to day reality of living and working in Berlin relates to the way it is often described as the cultural center, or creative hub of Europe?
For many years Berlin was some kind of bubble. Living in it was very cheap. So artist could concentrate on their art and didn´t have to worry to much about earning money. Unfortunately this is slowly changing right now. Also it´s position during the time Germany was divided was very unique and gave the city a special atmosphere even after the wall came down. For a long time Berlin was a big city with the charm of a small village.
You’ve been showcasing your work via flickr and Instagram. How do you find the platforms help in putting your works out there? And what’s your attitude towards social media?
I try to only use social media to showcase my artwork. It is very good for that and also to see and follow what other illustrators and comic artists are doing and to connect with them as well as with potential clients.
Any projects you’re working on you wanna talk about?
The Last drawing I did was a comic double page for "GAIA 7" a comic I am doing together with Marc Hennes, one of my favorite illustrators and comic artists.