Meet Our Illustrator for Biophilia: Lara Paulussen
Every month, CreativeMornings works with an artist in our community to create an illustration for our global monthly themes. Our monthly themes encourage new conversations and ideas at our virtual events. Speakers around the world are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them.
Our final theme of 2020 is Biophilia. Given that these illustrations spark conversations all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.
We’re excited to have freelance illustrator Lara Paulussen as our artist of the month and as our final featured theme illustrator for the year.
Meet Lara Paulussen
Lara Paulussen is a freelance Illustrator living in Düsseldorf, Germany. She creates atmospheric and colorful illustrations for books and magazines as well as whimsical animated gifs for online usage. Besides drawing, she likes live music, botanic gardens and exploring new places.
What was your path to where you are right now as an artist and illustrator?
I didn’t know illustration could be a real job. But, like nearly every artist, I knew I enjoyed drawing as a child and just never really stopped.
After finishing school, I started studying history but soon dropped out as it wasn’t the right thing for me, and I wanted to do something more practical and creative. So, I applied to study design and had an internship at an ad agency. During my four years of studying design at FH Münster, I realized that I would like to focus on illustration. After finishing my design bachelor’s degree, I followed up with a master’s degree in illustration at HAW Hamburg.
Studying helped me. Of course, you don’t learn drawing through studying; that’s something you have to practice yourself, but meeting other likeminded, drawing obsessed people really really helped. The constructive criticism from my professors was invaluable too. While studying, I sent out portfolios to magazines and book publishers I wanted to work with and slowly started getting my first jobs and becoming active on social media to attract more potential clients.
What were some of your biggest creative influences in your early days?
As a child, I had a book with fairy tales that had beautiful watercolor illustrations in it, and I always dreamed of drawing like that. Also, I borrowed countless comic books like “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Asterix” at the local library.
What’s the creative scene like in your city or region and how has it impacted you?
Well, I spent most of my 20s in other cities beyond Düsseldorf and had more contact with the creative scenes there (especially in Hamburg a lot is going on that shaped me). But in Düsseldorf, of course, also has excellent internationally renowned art museums like the K20/K21 and an indie scene with small exhibitions and concerts that I would love to explore more once the pandemic is over.
As you know, the theme for December is “biophilia,” which means: “humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.” What did you think when you first heard this term and how did you go about interpreting it into the illustration?
My first reaction was “YES.” I love being in nature. It always calms me and makes me happy. For the illustration, I thought the lettering should feel organic and natural by clearly containing elements of the natural world. The final interpretation shows a gardener planting the word “Biophilia” out in flowers showing the connection she has with nature. Her happy face hopefully also showing the stress-reducing effects of being outdoors.
Do you have a favorite natural landscape that you like to depict in your artwork?
I mostly draw landscapes inspired by the places surrounding me: mainly parks, gardens, forests, lakes, and heaths. Around Düsseldorf, there are no spectacular landscapes, it’s mostly industrial here with a bit of tamed nature in between, so I tend to try to find the beauty in the small things. I am especially fond of forests in my drawings as they have a sense of mystery, and you can get lost in them. Sometimes I also like to dream up more wild and untamed landscapes that only exist in my imagination.
If you could open a door to anywhere, where would you go? Why?
At the moment, I would like to open the door to a friendly and warm place near the sea in a reality where there is no pandemic and also no climate change… and eat pizza and ice cream. I’d love to swim in the ocean all day long. This reality we currently live in is stressful and anxiety-gathering. Sometimes I would like to escape to a place that feels safe and relaxing instead.
This year has been difficult for many due to the pandemic. What has your experience been like and is there anything new you’ve realized or learned so far that you’re carrying with you into the new year?
The pandemic has destroyed all my plans for this year. I did not travel on the holidays much for the past ten years, so I had planned two short holidays and a long one this year. I can’t remember the last time I was away for more than a long weekend. I wanted to make up for it.
Of course, I had to cancel all of them. It was also challenging work-wise; so many jobs got canceled, which became a financial problem. And lastly, it also felt quite lonely as the lockdowns made meeting other people quite tricky. So 2020, for me, feels like the year of canceled plans and life on hold.
I’ve learned not always to postpone everything because one never knows what the future brings. And that better times will also be coming along again!
What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?
Probably patience. I’ve never been good at being patient, but sometimes there are situations you have no control over, and all you can do is wait for things to pass. I’m learning how to use patience to work on a longer animation after making mostly only short gif animations. I hope I can do this more often in the future and also get better at it!