Children’s Comics

Four Questions for: Lika Nüssli

Lika Nüssli

Lika Nüssli is an artistic border-crosser: she paints, draws, illustrates and works as a performance artist. This Swiss artist was born in 1973 in Gossau, St. Gallen, and following the obligatory school years attended the preliminary course and then did advanced training in textile design in Herisau. From 1997 through 2001 she studied visual communication, specialising in illustration at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Since 2001 she has been working as a free-lance illustrator and in 2006 won the Swiss Illustrated Book Contest's first prize. Lika Nüssli lives and works in St Gallen.

You first studied textile design and then illustration. What have you taken with you from this time?

Lika NüssliAs a textile designer I learned to deal with colours, patterns, forms and beauty. And I learned to think economically. In the master class for illustration I realised that I had to discover my own pictorial language. But only after a few years of professional experience did I find my individual character as an artist.

In 2006 you won the Swiss Illustrated Book Contest's first prize for your fantasy tale “Unterm Bett ein Wunderstein” (i.e. a magic stone under the bed). How did this project evolve?

Lika NüssliI had already taken part in a contest and didn't win. The second time I had the necessary time and stamina required for submitting a good proposal. You have to be able to afford a project like that. And you have to find the courage to work in an open-ended way for a very long time, without knowing what the outcome will be.

In addition to books for children and young people, you also draw stories for adults, such as the erotic tale “Der Sonntagsbraten” (i.e. the Sunday roast), or you illustrate magazines and work for the advertising industry. How do you go about your work?

Lika Nüssli: SehnsuchtI've developed my own, personal technique from textile design, which consists of many levels. This technique has been increasingly refined in the course of time and has become my very own style. I start with lines that I then paint over in black, in order to find and uncover the surfaces and figures anew. In the final work phase I colour in this background of light, shadow and structure. Mostly I keep myself busy with an image motif for a long time - I really have to grow into it.

In your “instant stories” and performances, you sketch live and draw the audience into the story. What is the attraction of these events?

It's pure fun - and absolute freedom. When I'm drawing I don't have any time to reflect. What comes out of these actions surprises me, too.

What are the three Swiss-German words that everybody should know?

Gschmogä - means “hardly” or “barely,” because I'm always just barely finished with everything I have to do. Anyone who draws comics knows the feeling…

Plägere - means “chilling out.” I long for it so often and get to it so seldom, but when I do it's paradise, and I enjoy it incredibly.

Bigoscht - means “true” or “real.” The concept originally derives from “bei Gott sein” (i.e. to be with God). But I don't have much to do with that, apart from the fact that I sing in the St. Gallen cathedral choir and sometimes do feel a bit related to God: specifically when I'm creating my worlds.

Rieke C. Harmsen conducted the interview.
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
June 2012

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