Artist Interview: Johanna Springer
Johanna Springer is a freelance Illustrator located in Germany who specialises in ink based illustration with using traditional and digital methods. Her biggest inspiration is nature and Japanese traditional clothing, with translating her ideas primarily for books, comics and magazines within her portfolio.
To celebrate the month of ink, we had the pleasure of asking a few questions, delving into her editorial ink filled world!
'I think it is such a wonderful challenge to express everything you want to say with just lines and one color (black).'
'Inking can feel intimidating at first because every stroke is definite, and it takes a bit of “confidence” to execute. I would say for beginners, start with a black liner and get a feel for the medium. Also, the right kind of paper is essential. For me, it has to have the right balance of smoothness and texture.'
Q: We love the contrast in your illustrations and the emotion that your work conveys! How/where do you find your inspiration?
Thank you 😊 My inspiration is either drawn from nature – I like to take reference photos while hiking of moss, ferns, mushrooms, flowers and so on – or I get inspired by pattern, textiles and traditional Japanese clothing. It is often just a detail I observe in my daily life, in movies, or in books that sparks an idea. This could be the sound of a crackling fire or the blooming clover in our garden. These little details will give me a mood for setting, a pose and the look of a character.
Q: What is your favourite thing about working with ink?
First, I like to work in black and white when drawing traditionally. I love the bold contrast between the white paper and the dark ink. I always try to adapt this feature to the rest of the drawing. Which means: bold shapes, contrast in lines and filling, thin pattern and strokes vs thick, black silhouettes.It calms my mind and helps me stay focused on the motif itself. I can't get distracted by colors. Plus, I think it is such a wonderful challenge to express everything you want to say with just lines and one color (black).
Q: You've previously mentioned on your social media that you're a fan of inking traditionally, what is the main reason you tend to choose it over digital methods?
I have been working digitally for years and only recently discovered my love for inking and working traditionally. Mostly the past 3 years. I like the physical touch and the commitment I have to make with each stroke. There is no second chance or the opportunity to erase something. Also, I just love the natural textures and grain it gets because of the paper.
Made with a Copic Multiliner // Sketchbook: Hahnemühle // colored in Photoshop @johspringer
Q: Could you tell us some fun facts people may not know about you?
Although I love to ink in just black, I'm very specific and rigid with the colors of my surroundings. Like my clothing, furniture, and interior objects. I have a color palette I love, and whenever possible, everything HAS TO BE in that color 😊 The second fact is that I would love to wear the clothing and fashion I draw for my characters. Sometimes I don't feel bold enough to wear something in real life, or I simply haven't found a piece of clothing like this yet (and sadly, my sewing skills are nowhere near as good as crafting this myself), so I try to get this experience through my drawings.
Q: With your commission work that slightly differs in style, do you find it important to have a sketchbook which allows you to express yourself in a different form?
Absolutely. I love digital art. This is the medium I choose when I work on client jobs, but I also need the variety and change of tools and work flows to ease my mind and refresh my soul. Inking in my sketchbook always feels like meditation and helps me to relax instantly.
Q: Do you have any advice to artists who are thinking of trying to work with ink?
Inking can feel intimidating at first because every stroke is definite, and it takes a bit of “confidence” to execute. I started with a dip pen at first, which is so much harder than a fine liner. But I really tried to use the dip pen for rough and quick sketches. Mostly, my sketches looked very scratchy and messy at first, and only over time did I develop a love for this clean and thin-lined look. After a while, I switched to a fine liner, which is easier to handle. So I would say for beginners, start with a black liner and get a feel for the medium.Also, the right kind of paper is essential. For me, it has to have the right balance of smoothness and texture.
Q: In your artistic journey did you always know you'd specialise in designing for editorial?
I always wanted to illustrate books. I just love the medium, and holding a printed and published version of my art in my hands makes me really happy.
Q: Thank you so much for your time and knowledge! We would love to know what you are currently working on/ do you have any exciting future plans in the making?
Currently, I'm working on my first full graphic novel. I already published a short story, and now I'm working on a full story, which is really exciting for me. I'm still in the writing process, and I started with some first sketches and thumbnails. This project will keep me company for quite some time now, which I absolutely love. I really like to work on long-term projects.