Contact Report with Christian Barthold!


My name is Kyle and i've always been really inspired by your work. I'm studying Illustration at University at the moment and i've used you in presentations about artists the motivate me already, so i was wondering if i could ask you a few short questions that would really help me gain a little more insight into this world after studies? I understand if you don't have the time because obviously you have a very busy schedule, but if you would like to help, please just email the answers to me at curly_hart_666@hotmail.com?

yes.. no problem..

1. Throughout your creative career you have moved across many different styles, from fashion-based work to life-like portraiture. I don't have a certain style yet so seem to be jumping between many different techniques, so I was wondering what your motive is behind changing styles regularly? And how do you settle on a certain style for a set period of time?

the reason why I'm doing this is mainly down to this:
1) that i just want do do new things, and some things work out good (in terms of commissions for some years, while in other years, it doesn't work at all.
for instance, I'ver been doing my collage thing from 1998 on.. at the moment (and also last year), i mostly get commmssioned for this.

2) i try to place myself in the market as an illustrator who is flexible..
so if someone is asking me to do something which i haven't done yet, i can partly modify and get the commission.
this is also something i always try to prove with my portfolio, and in most cases it's working out – people are astounded by the variety of styles.

in fact, I've been doing nearly everything apart from illustrating for games or doing character designs.
I found out: many styles: this is something i can impress people and keep fun.

The market is getting harder and harder, so i guess that this is working best for me, personally..


2. Do you prefer to create your own work with the idea of freedom, or to work for a client which brings you tighter restrictions?
I give in that i hardly do anything at all, when I'm not getting commissioned.
most f the time, music is in my head.. (I play guitar and compose for my 2 very different bands..)
I'm badly resticted by myself.. and have big problems to sit down drawing at all!!!

... it only works in holidays when i have time or when i make some christmas gifts for my family.

I am also not as successful as you might think i am ;-))
and for me that's something I really something that gets me moaning – I guess I'm a good one,
i think that I'm possibly the most flexible illustrator in Germany (i know hundeds of other ones.. so I can tell.)
But I also like to earn some money and want some commercial success.. this is the thing that's keeping me working mainly..
normally it works out.. and I'm working very very fast.

but for myself.. i nearly draw nothing.. big problem for me.

i try to resolve this problem by doing life drawings , really fast ones.. (20-30 minutes each piece..)
.. so i make a drawing-date with some female model and then I have to work, if i want or not.. and can't escape this.

this is something really rewarding and also helps you keeping your techniques fresh.
.. to see huge drawings on the floor after some hours of painting is just great.
and you get some direct response from your models.. who normally are very excited about the drawings, too.
.. these reaction is something which I hardly get when working for commissioners.
most people i only know from telephone. never seen them.

generally it's hard to keep the fun in your work, when getting commissioned, and if you do this for 15 years or more, it's getting hard .. really ..
so the best thing is to be working on private side-projects all the time..
in my case, these are life drawings.. (at this point: the black and white pieces..)


The Fashion style came along when i felt that this is something for me, some new style that I can participate doing (in 2005)..
and i wanted to get a cd-rom for a Free Images Company, that i had worked for in 2001, when I realised: oh.. the composing stuff will soon be out..
so i put 120 images together on 2 cd-roms within 3 months.. photography, composing.. and using some illus already done.

unfortunately, the second time doing this (the fashion stuff.) , my project was sacked, cause they sacked my art director there, just in time when i was finishing the project.
I was really angry and could't convince the creative director to finish what we started,
even if i knew that this style would be very successful over the following years, and it did so.
I couldn't convince her.. and they had no idea ...
the good thing about this was: 5 months of experimenting led to some 70 images that on one hand:
never appeared on cd-rom and i never go money for this either.. but: the style was shown in many books about illustration,
from these 70 pieces.. i guess ore than 30 appeared in books and mags..
Big image success.. but hardly any award financially.. ;-)

i guess that's how you came across me..
I'm still angry about that company, for the fashion style was at that point something that was to be very popular – I backed the right horse.
i know i lost thousands of Euros by this.... grrrrrr....


3. When working for a client how do you begin your creative process and does this affect your creative style in any way in terms of technique?

it depends.. some people have a finished idea that they want to be realized.. i prefer to devellopp ideas by myself,
and normally, i work out ideas and afterwards I see what technique would be suitable (in case the commissioner hasn't picked up a style at that point.

i have one ore two regularly commissioners who know exactly what they want
and can think beforehand how i would realize this. these are very professional..
other commissioners have no idea at all.


4. I really like your style when you mix photography and fashion together, especially with your abstract backgrounds and use of colour, for example in the fashion-music-sport section on your site. How do you go about choosing these elements?

just try out things.. and don't be threatened.
this fashion style was a style that i collected many different drawings together in photoshop and tried out..
at the starting point it was a collection of many different dwawings.

from real realistic people drawing to blind-drawings.. calligraphy, i tried out nearly everything at least i was drawn.
i did this because at that point i nearly draw nothing any more.
so this was also good for me to get back to drawing again, which i normally don't do at all.

maybe you think I'm devellopping something new every day.. but to be honest, I haven't found a new exciting style for years..
and i've had a hard time in the meantime and nearly lost my interest in drawing .. and I hardly manage to sit down and experiment - up to now..
cause I've been doing this for x years.. since 1996, when i got away from the ad agencies more and more.
but if you've been doing this for such a long time, you have seen everything possible and it doesn't excite you like it would have done when being a student.
you get the impression that you've seen everything before.

at the moment i keep doing the same things again and again (mostly collage) – this is working out all the time (commercially)..

other styles don't get commissioned at all, unfortunately.. like the painting/collage style on woodboards.. that I enjoy doing them very much..
I really tried to push this into the market – but I was not successful.
or the fashion stuff. nearly no commissions over the years, and I didn't experiment with this any more... shitty..

... so i returned to collage..

5.I usually work using analogue methods but sometimes want to touch up or add to my work digitally,
but i have trouble getting my final pieces looking finshed. Have you any tips that might help bring the two media together?

generally.. it must be a good combination, and you got to have taste.
decide whther you want t have a drawing piece in the end or a composing.

... i can't tell right now– show me some of your work.

there's at least two things i can tell you: If you devellop something,
1 ideally.. it should be looking like the work of no-one else – and always be looking to be yours so people notice this,
the best thing is: taht it looks like no-one else coult hav done it like you did.
i know that is very hard to manage...
2 it should always be fresh looking !!! because: this is how you can convince people – they always want to see something refeshing.
You should compare it to the work of other illustrators all over the world. so you get to know where you stand.
3 don't mix up too many styes - keep them minimalistic in style and consequent
4 people always should notice that you had fun doing your pieces.. (very imoportant) .. ;-)

5 and generally: and most of all:
my belief is: authenticity is the best – in any form of art.
( ...look at the work of Hope Gangloff (from NYC) – this is really really authentic.
you can always see: that's a Gangloff piece .. authentic people are the protagonists.. and the seem to be very picked from real life... next door people..
i guess that's why she is so successful.
....know what i mean?

cheers! chris
...so end me some of your work then.. ;-)

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