The often say when trying to discover a career you look forward to waking up to every day, you should look back on your childhood to see what fascinated you for hours on end.
Was it endless hours immersed in novels, outdoor adventures with the family or dancing like no one’s watching to any song that comes on?
For Irma Gruenholz, her fascination was with three-dimensional objects, and this has transformed into a self-taught craft that has captivated the imaginations of fans around the world. We were delighted by the opportunity to ask Irma a few questions about here career and her development since the beginning. Read on for our conversation.
P: Pendulum Magazine
G: Irma Gruenholz
P: Can you tell us about your background and how you arrived at where you are today?
G: Ever since I was a child, I have felt a special attraction to three-dimensional objects, handicraft and miniatures. I’d spend hours and hours playing with clay, building houses with paper and making my own dolls.
I’ve always been interested in art and its application in everyday life, so I studied graphic design, which gave me a good basis for my work as an illustrator, but I have not received specific training on illustration or sculpture; you could say that I’m self-taught in this regard.
Making three-dimensional illustrations was always natural to me, something I’ve always done. It’s been a matter of thinking about the roles of these sculptures, how I want to convey such roles, and also finding my own language.
P: Can you describe the materials that you use in creating your clay illustrations?
G: The main materials that I use are clay and plasticine. I choose one of them or I combine them depending on the finish I want to get. In addition to clay and plasticine, I really like to incorporate all kinds of materials depending on the project such as wood, fabrics, papers, branches, found objects... This is the feature that I love the most when working with three dimensional illustrations — you can incorporate all kinds of materials depending on the piece. The creative process is very exciting.
P: How would you describe your illustration style? How has it evolved over the years?
G: I find it quite hard to describe my illustration style. I suppose that working in three dimensions defines somehow my work. I do not like limitation in a certain style so I love to explore the possibilities of each project and experiment with new solutions.
Regardless of the technique I use, I like simplicity, both in composition and in the forms and colours. Within "the formal minimalism", I like to recreate myself in certain details that add narrative value to the illustration. I also like to work with textures and take into account the effects of light on the different materials.
In the beginning, my style was more naive and I used a very bright colour palette, always looking for chromatic contrast. Little by little I have been incorporating other materials, paying more attention to the textures, the effects of light on the different surfaces and my chromatic palette is more meditated depending on the project looking for more harmonies.
P: Is there a part within the creative process that excites you the most?
G: All aspects of the creative process excites me: the search for information, giving shape to the concept and how to convey it, the choice of materials and the colour palette that I will use, the modeling and lighting process to photograph the piece… I enjoy all the moments of the creative process.
P: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
G: I find inspiration in life in general; music, painting, photography, sculpture, scenography, design, architecture, poetry, nature, conversations…I love walking through the forest and searching for inspiration from natural elements which I incorporate into my artwork.
P: What’s your favourite or most memorable project you’ve ever worked on?
There is a project that was very stimulating, the realization of the illustrations of a book entitled “Il Ballerino del Silenzio” written by Ivo Rosati and published by Zoolibri. It is a story about a mysterious character who takes advantage of the silence and darkness of the night to dance, in this way he avoids being seen by anyone. The tale takes place at night so I had to create a night lighting but did not want to make the scenes too dark. To achieve the desired effect with lights and shadows, I had to take several shootings of each scene with different exposures and then complete the digital editing on computer.
I was captivated by the poetry of the story and I found that very appealing because the texts provide a very open interpretation.
P: What advice would you give to illustrators looking to develop their own style?
G: I would advise them not to be obsessed about finding their own style. It is something that you continuously shape as you progress. The important thing is to be curious and not be afraid to experiment.
It is important to stay fluid and open to the evolution of your style as your work progresses as Irma suggests. what do you do to stay curious to advance you thoughts and methods?
For more information on Irma and her work, visit her website here.