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Illustrator Spotlight: Jill Senft

Process, style, color and influences: get to know the talents behind the illustrations we love

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to a creative career.

I’m a freelance illustrator & painter based in Berlin. From my earliest years as a student at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee, I was certain that illustration was the only thing I would ever love to do as a full-time job. I held a few outside jobs at some major fashion retailers and I actually hated it, so I directed my focus on trying my best to make a living out of illustration—I knew that's what I really wanted. When I started my Masters at the Universität der Künste I was already freelancing full time. While it was a bit of a struggle time-wise it was truly a great feeling. It was then that I knew I could rely on myself.

How did you find your medium and style, and who and what influenced you? I’m not sure if there is a singular way in which I found my style. I discovered it through practice along with what I learned during University and freelancing. My style is also constantly shifting and changing and I’m excited to see where it will take me in the coming years.

What subjects are you most fascinated with? I love observing everyday life. What most people consider as boring is actually a tremendous inspiration for me. I wouldn’t say I prefer a specific subject necessarily, but I do like a certain sense of humor in my paintings and drawings. I even enjoy it when I’m commissioned to work on a topic I originally dislike, as this forces me to step outside my comfort zone and actually brings out my best work.

How do you create characters, what inspires them, and how do you use color? I prefer it when my characters are weird, wobbly, and out of proportion. I don’t mind if a perspective is wrong—I think it makes a picture more interesting and special. Color is definitely an important part of my practice as bold colors and contrasts make it all vibrant. What helps me a lot is taking pictures of colors as references in daily life. As I don’t like to repeat myself in paintings I can go to my library whenever I need and search for color inspiration.

If you had to pick a favorite project, which one are you most proud of and why? That's a hard question. I’m always very proud when I see a publication with my work in or on it. It’s a great feeling to see my work out in the open. Of course, getting published in major newspapers such as the New York Times, Zeit Magazin or Bloomberg Businessweek is an illustrator's dream and it's always an incredible feeling to accomplish that.

What’s next for you? There are some very nice projects coming up at the end of this year and the next. While I’m very excited, I can’t actually talk about it yet. My plan for 2023 is definitely to find some time to work more on personal projects like my sculptures series.

Rapid Fire Round - Choose one answer! you can add a few words if you like :)

Weekend - lounge in bed / go out and party? Lounge in bed

Coffee or tea? Tea

Cats or dogs? Cats

Favorite season? Spring

Cinema or Netflix? Cinema

Pool or beach? Beach

Computer or sketchbook? Sketchbook

Text or voice note? Text

City or countryside? Both

Getting dressed: colorful or monochromatic? Both



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