Stephanie Wunderlich

Stephanie Wunderlich

(She/Her) • Hamburg, Germany

Biography Interview

Stephanie Wunderlich studied at FH Augsburg and ISIA Urbino and earned a degree in communication design. Wunderlich lives in Hamburg, Germany, where she works as a freelance illustrator. The illustrator’s favorite medium is paper collage. She creates her illustrations using digital techniques as well as traditional cut paper collage with scissors and glue. The colorful, flat graphic shapes and compositions of her editorial illustrations grace the pages of magazines and newspapers worldwide.

Selected clients

Google, Prada, Mailchimp, Pentagram, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Die Zeit, SAP, Banca Galicia, Geo Wissen, Stanford Social Innovation, Guardian, Wallstreet Magazine, Hotel Comodo, Plansponsor, Harvard Business Manager, Stern, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Eltern, Brigitte, Bayer, Schöner Wohnen, Mailchimp, Bundesministerium für Gesundheit

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Editorial Illustration, Branding Illustration

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  • 2020 Gold Award New York Festival
  • Gold Award 3×3 Pro Show 2010
  • Merit Award 3×3 Pro Show 2011, 2014, 2016-2020
  • Art Directors Club Germany 2001

Career Milestones

My solo show at Kunstverein Rüsselsheim 2021, next year being the coeditor of the 20th issue of Spring Magazine

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Stephanie Wunderlich in the Spotlight

Stephanie Wunderlich

Where is home?
Hamburg Germany

Describe your style in one sentence
A bold, graphical and expressive visual language paired with strong ideas.

What themes do you enjoy exploring?
I use figurative representations in almost all my images therefor I love to explore whatever is interpersonal and emotional and abstract.

How much of yourself and your own story can we see in your work?
I always try to also create self-initiated experimental work where I don’t have to meet clients’ expectations. I write and illustrate personal stories for Spring Magazine.These personal experiences flow into my commissioned work.

Is there an unmistakable thread in your creative work?
The bold and graphical visual language of paper cut collage. I like the rough and edgy appearance. In paper cuts you see the traces of analog work: the imperfection of a shape cut by scissors, the shadows and the textures. The technique forces me to keep finding new ways to simplify, reduce and see things in an abstract way. The same edgy appearance you will find in my digital work.
I want to convey clarity and simplicity. To draw in black and white is my second style.

What do you want to be known for?
For my unique

What is your dream gig?
A cover for the New Yorker Magazine, a painted wall or seeing my illustrations in movement on a textile design.

Where, when and how do you best create?
In the late morning hours in my Studio. My work space is split into two areas: my computer desk, which is always clean and tidy, and my analog table, which is pretty much a creative mess full of paper snippets and unfinished illustrations. I constantly switch between analogue and digital work and enjoy how they complement each other.

How has your style evolved since you started?
When started out I did exclusively work in paper cut. Then I also translated the same graphical visual language in digital illustration. Now a major part of my commissioned work is black & white drawings. Here I enjoy being able to leave color behind for a bit and focus on the quality of the line work.
I always try to push further the aspect of unexpected ways to deform shapes and characters.
The personal work for Spring Magazine has positively influenced my commissioned work and encouraged me being more individual in my visual language and to reduce the use of color.

What do you find most challenging in your practice or in the industry?
When I started out as an illustrator I found it quite difficult to work all by myself. I always shared studio space with colleagues but still I found it very challenging that there is no real teamwork evolved in the daily practice of an illustrator. It is very important for me to stay in close contact to other illustrators, to my agent and to be part of the Spring artist collective.

How has being an illustrator changed your life?
After studying graphic design I landed in this fancy advertising agency where all employees were supposed not to leave any personal items on the white desks. This snow whiteness was like a metaphor for my inner feeling. I had no personal connection to advertising. After two years I had the courage to leave and to start out being a freelance illustrator. I feel so privileged ever since to work in that profession, to let my creativity run free and to do meaningful work. Illustration can just be so much more authentic and personal than any other media we consume on a daily basis.
Yet my background as a graphic designer is still visible in my work: each strap of paper becomes part of a larger puzzle, each element communicates with each every other element in the environment of the page, everything is arranged according to an inner logic.

Name a tool you can’t live without!
My scissors

Tell us about a project you worked on that was meaningful to you as an artist?
In 2010 I created a pop up book that was used as a prop on stage of the Schauspielhaus Hamburg. The actress interacted with the characters in the book physically animating them throughout the performance. My constructed miniature world interacted within a larger composition by being filmed and projected. It was great to experience my own illustrations as objects in motion on stage. I was struck by how moving the combination of illustration, acting, music and lightning can be. I realized that even smaller paper objects can tell complex stories und unleash powerful forces.

What influences or inspires your art?
Illustration and design from the ’60s and ’70s are a key influence in terms of clever composition and color combinations, but also modern and contemporary art and contemporary painting are very present in my universe.
I love all sorts of rather graphical design/art, like Russian Constructivism, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Socialist poster design, Japanese graphic design.
I love drawings by Yann Kebbi, David Shrigley, Dennis Eriksson, JooHee Yoon or Patrick Kyle. I like the painterly work of Romy Blümel or Gérard Dubois. And the graphical style of Henning Wagenbreth or Icinori. As for the strong visual ideas, I like Christoph Niemann or André Carrilho.
I really enjoy looking through architecture or interior design magazines. When I was a teenager I always wanted to become an interior designer. What probably frightened me was the third dimension, so I studied graphic design.

Why do you think art speaks louder than words?
Images communicate a message much quicker than written words. Illustrators can be social commentators. A good illustration shows something that goes beyond the written content, that invites the viewer to think ahead.

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