Rita Fürstenau | Interview with Chris Muyres
Portfolio von Rita Fürstenau, Illustration und Zeichnung.
Rita Fürstenau, Fuerstenau, Fürstenau, rotopol, rotopolpress, Verlag, Illustration, Kassel, Kunst
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Interview with Chris Muyres for the Dutch edition of Flow Magazine No 5-2014

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A bit about yourself: age, background, education, where do you live, where do you work?

I was born in 1982 in Berlin. Since 2001 I live and work in Kassel. Here I studied illustration at the School of Arts and Design as well as primary school teaching and educational science. Besides working as a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer, I work as an arts pedagogue and I run the independent publisher Rotopolpress together with my colleagues Lisa Röper and Michael Meier. We founded Rotopolpress nearly seven years ago, while we were still studying. It was our goal to create a possibility to publish the work of young illustrators and comic artists. We decided to work self determined and in a position to exchange creative ideas with other artists; on a high creative level and independent from short-lived market trends. Apart from the publishing house, Rotopolpress includes a retail store, an integrated art gallery where we set up exhibitions with contemporary illustrators year-round and a studio, where we work together as an illustrator’s collective. We also have a screen printing workshop that is run by my husband and most likely this is where you can find me on the weekends.

 

Who are your main clients?

Most of my work is published at Rotopolpress. Here you can find my illustration booklets, paper games, posters, postcards, sketch booklets and some printed textiles like tote bags and tea towels.

 

Why do patterns appeal so much to you?

Enjoying designed surfaces has always been a part of my life. As a child I loved looking at a pattern and I would maybe make up a little story with the characters or just think about the color rhythm or the geometric structure behind it. Later I realized that I can integrate my own designs into the world that surrounds me and I started to create patterns out of my drawings. For me it’s just a pleasure to fit in some patterned pieces in my wardrobe and our home interior.

 

How and why did you become a pattern designer?

Actually I never planned to become a pattern designer. During my studies creating patterns was more a personal thing to me, but nothing I considered important for the projects I was working on. Although it was not an intentional decision, my affection for patterns influenced my work. For my final examination I created an illustrated booklet that can be turned, folded and unfolded in many directions. The drawings create a web of images with no starting or ending point on the foldable space and with every fold and turn the scenes and relations between the figures are rearranged. I was fascinated by the possibility to think in a picture world that is not divided into a center and boarder areas. Since then I took my interest in repeating patterns more seriously. I began to include pattern elements in my illustrations and also started to publish my designs on paper goods.

 

What makes it so much fun to design patterns, what’s so attractive about it?

Apart from the fun during the creation process I like the fact that there are so many possibilities to bring a pattern into daily life. For example I love printing my designs on fabric and sewing myself a dress out of it afterwards.

 

There are so many possibilities: how and when do you know a pattern is good and it is ready?

The too many possibilities are more a problem to me when I start with a new project. I always have plenty of thoughts, notes and sketches lying around that accumulate by and by. So sometimes it is not so easy to focus in the beginning. Once I decided on an idea I want to realize, the possible ways to continue determine themselves while working. I stop working on a pattern when I get the feeling that there is nothing left to add or to change and that for any upcoming idea it would be better to start something new.

 

Can you describe the design process?

It really depends on the project, on the purpose of the pattern and on how much time I have to realize it. Sometimes I draw a pattern directly on a film for screen printing, without sketching or planning a lot. Other times I work on a concept for weeks, produce heaps of sketches and figure out variations before I come to the final design. The good thing about quick projects is that they fit very well into my busy working days. What I really love about longer processes is the possibility to end up somewhere different to what I thought the result would be when I started. Than the design process becomes a little adventure, a journey to an unknown place that ends with a discovery.

 

When you look at a pattern it can be an almost meditative experience, is that also the case when you design a pattern?

Yes, sometimes when as all the concept work is done and I’m left with lines, shapes and spaces, working on a pattern is very relaxing.

 

What are your favorite materials to work with?

For drawing I simply prefer a pencil and uncoated paper. I take it with me everywhere I go. I also like the process of screen printing my work. It makes me happy to do things like mixing colors and choosing paper or fabric to print on.

 

How do you recognize a good pattern, what makes a pattern a successful one?

For me a good pattern carries a rhythm, it works from distance and in the details.

 

Where do you find inspiration for your patterns?

I think I get inspired by everything that surrounds me, very often without taking notice of it. Many of my ideas come in unexpected moments, while working on something completely different, baking a cake or roaming in the woods. When I’m lucky I can take a minute and make a sketch or write down a note. This way I can come back to it any time later.

 

What is the nicest or weirdest reaction you received from someone about one of your designs?

Some while ago I started to hand paint china with my designs. The first collection I did was a wedding present for two very good friends. When they told me they use the china daily for their breakfast, this made me really happy.

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