Four Questions for Annette Köhn

Copyright: Annette KöhnShe likes it plain and simple. Paper and paint. Drawing and painting. Being creative and celebrating. Annette Köhn call herself Grafiktube, works in the studio collective Musenstube and sells “small, fine, illustrated pieces of junk” through her publishing company Jaja in Berlin. The certified communications designer and free-lancer explains how all of the above fits together.

Slideshow by Annette Köhn

From communications design to publishing – how does that work out for you?

The interfaces are my passion for drawing and my love of books. They were already in place before my studies! My practical degree thesis was a comic book. After graduating, I didn’t want to have to decide what area of work in the communications design job landscape to concentrate on. And I absolutely did not want a job in an advertising agency. That’s how I began as a self-employed communications designer and illustrator.

In the end, it was always drawing that enlivened my profession and my down time, and that brought me together with many other passionate graphic artists, comic artists and illustrators. For six years now, lots of like-minded people have been meeting up at the Stralsund Skizzenfestival.

You work in the Musenstube studio collective as “Muse-in-Chief” for the gallery.

The studio collective has been around for six years now. It’s a source of inspiration for everyone involved and a nodal point in our network of friends and colleagues in design. We are always five to nine so-called Muses who are all free-lancers in the areas of design and illustration. But there are also writers and musicians at work here.

And how does your cooperation work?

We support each other in part in our projects, trade know-how, procure and pass on commissions for each other, or drink coffee together. We share our enjoyment of our work, which doesn’t have to get done in a lonely home office. We realise joint projects, like the designing and printing of illustrated products – such as the Musen&Drachen Geburtstagskalender (i.e. the muses’ and dragons’ birthday calendar). With these “Muse products” we go to design or Advent markets and supply our Internet shop. In the Musenstube itself, we of course also have a sales area and are the neighbourhood’s purchasing platform for gifts. In addition, we regularly transform the office landscape into a gallery and hold exhibitions, or exhibit other artists, mostly in graphics. There’s music as accompaniment and once again a cheerful forum for getting to know people and networking.

How did the publishing company come about? Wie kam es zur Gründung des Verlags?

It just emerged. I was getting to know more and more fantastic graphic artists and could make ends meet and then some with my graphics and illustration commissions - and at some point or other, the time was simply ripe to dust off the dream of my youth. Jaja! A publishing company is what we need now! For producing beautiful, good books and publishing drawings and stories created with heart and soul. I’m doing this now as a publisher - and it is truly a dream job. Seeking, finding, selecting … working together with the authors so their books turn out exactly the way they conceived them. At the moment I am still financing the publishing company mainly through my other jobs, but the sales figures are gradually increasing. But it still is a balancing act between economic viability and artistic merit.

Rieke Harmsen conducted the interview.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
March 2013

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