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Meet Our Restart Illustrator: Marie Maerz

It has been a tradition at CreativeMornings to work with an artist in our community to create an illustration for the monthly theme.

A monthly theme inspires new conversations and ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t think about. At our events, speakers are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them. After a month, we are excited to see the kinds of talks and inspiration that are born out of the theme.

The global theme for November is Restart.

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Given that these monthly illustrations are at events all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.


Meet Marie Maerz

Marie Maerz is an illustrator, photographer and e-commerce specialist. She creates smart, minimalistic illustrations using colored paper and mixed media. Her works have been published in newspapers and magazines including ZEIT Online, taz.de and Psychologie heute. She loves mashed potatoes.

Marie Maerz currently lives in Düsseldorf, Germany with her partner; and a grumpy neighbour.

How did you get into illustration work?

About four years ago I started creating stock photos as a side project to improve my photography skills. Submitting to different agencies and getting many rejections in the beginning - whether for technical or other reasons - has been quiet frustrating but it was an excellent learning experience. I love inspirational quotes and so at some point I illustrated several of my favorite quotes with minimalistic paper collages. That’s when I realized that I could also use paper to create the requisites I didn’t have.

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At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?

Looking back there have been two special moments that made me realize how much I love illustration. The first one was seeing how I could lose the sense of time when I was creating. The feeling of flow is wonderful, plus the thrill when an idea works out - not only in my head, but also through the camera lense. For years I had struggled with wanting to draw and paint, but I never enjoyed the process. With paper and mixed media illustrations I feel I’ve finally found my medium. The second moment was when I put together my portfolio last year. Looking through the images I felt that I had somehow found my own style.

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How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?

I haven’t been into illustration for too long, but when I started I picked more popular topics or motives for my illustrations. Recently I’m focusing more and more on topics that interest or concern me on a deeper level. Topics like data privacy, the influence of social media and constant triggers from mobile phones on your brain etc. I read and absorb a lot information and ideas - whether through articles, books and podcasts. Visualizing some of these also helps me to process and order all the input and thoughts.

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What does “Restart” mean to you personally?

For me “Restart” consists of two parts: Closing, finishing something, reflecting on what was. And then shifting one’s focus and energy either onto a fresh attempt or onto something new.

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What are some ways you restart and what are some challenges that you face?

At the moment my favorite way to restart is to call it a day and get a good night’s sleep. Or at least a nap. Though I’ve also experienced bigger challenges: a large project that failed, moving to a new city and relationships not working out - whether personal or professional. The challenge is to realize and accept at some point that it’s not working out or that it’s simply time for something new. I think it’s important to give yourself time. To pause and recharge, so you can focus your energy on a fresh start. It’s never easy, when you’re in the middle of it. But looking back, there’s also beauty and possibility in starting over. I think life is a constant mix of ups and downs and winding road, which is what I wanted to visualize with the RESTART illustration, inspired by an old board game called Ladders & Snakes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakes_and_Ladders), that I used to play with my grandfather.

What are you currently working on or excited about?

I started working on a small children’s book with animal rhymes about a year ago as a personal project. It’s been waiting in the drawer for quite a while, but maybe I’ll be able to finish it this year in time to give it to friends and family for Christmas.

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What’s something in your industry that deserves more attention?

Browsing through the CreativeMornings website I stumbled over the “Own your content” campaign (https://ownyourcontent.wordpress.com). It reminded me of an article I read by Derek Sivers titled “Use the Internet, not just companies” (https://sivers.org/netskill), which motivated me to finally launch my own portfolio website. Nowadays there are so many places and platforms to show, share and connect. But we shouldn’t forget to keep and cultivate our own place.

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Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

This year a friend and I grew our own potatoes. No need to peel and the yummiest mashed potatoes ever. I could eat them for 5 days straight.


Discover Marie’s portfolio and Instagram..

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