Britta Teckentrup
Atmospheric Objectivity

Britta Teckentrup
Britta Teckentrup | Photo (detail): © privat / Ars Edition

“Nature and emotions” are easy for her, she says. Children’s book illustrator Britta Teckentrup likes to focus her drawings on the profound and relies on a balance of objectivity and empathy. 

By Romy König

Teckentrup’s first picture books were created in London, where the artist, who grew up in Wuppertal, Germany, moved at the age of 18 to study illustration and free art at St Martin’s College and the Royal College of Art. In her own words, the first thing she wanted to do with these first publications was to make a living instead of fulfilling any artistic dreams. However, she soon discovered that she wanted to combine free art with the medium of the “book”. The publishing house of Jacoby and Stuart finally enabled her to do just that – to illustrate children’s books on a much higher artistic level, with all the freedom to let her passions run free.

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Der Baum der Jahreszeiten“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    „Der Baum der Jahreszeiten“

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Der blaue Vogel“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    Britta Teckentrup: „Der blaue Vogel“

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Bienen: Kleine Wunder der Natur“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    Britta Teckentrup: „Bienen: Kleine Wunder der Natur“

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Der Baum der Erinnerung“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    Britta Teckentrup: „Der Baum der Erinnerung“

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Wunderdinge der Natur“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    Britta Teckentrup: „Wunderdinge der Natur“

  • Britta Teckentrup: „Mond: Eine Reise durch die Nacht“ Photo (detail): © Britta Teckentrup / Ars Edition

    Britta Teckentrup: „Mond: Eine Reise durch die Nacht“

Informative, but also atmospheric

She created many works, but one in particular, Alle Wetter (Look at the Weather), stands out as one that she not only illustrated, but also wrote. Unlike other children’s stories on the subject of meteorology, it is not a mere lesson in “nature study”, as the publisher says. Teckentrup describes the emergence of weather phenomena in rather factual terms, but at the same time captures their mood in her pictures: the awakening of spring, damp mists, hot summer days, raging storms.
 
The artist names Titian and Turner, Van Gogh, Munch and also Caspar David Friedrich as models for her atmospheric style – painters in whose paintings weather phenomena always played a role. For its balance between science and empathy, Alle Wetter received a nomination for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth Literature Award) in the non-fiction category.

Launched late on the German book market

Teckentrup, who stayed in England for almost twenty years, published her books outside Germany for years. Her breakthrough in Germany, however, did not come until 2013 when the book Der Baum der Erinnerung (The Memory Tree) was published by Ars Edition and soon became a children’s book classic about the processing of grief and sorrow. Today the artist, who now lives in Berlin, can look back on 100 published children’s books in various formats, only 16 of these books, however, were published in Germany.

Still putting life and soul into her work

Her new children’s book also depicts emotional states and moods. The story of Der blaue Vogel (Blue) addresses sadness and depression, but at the same time wants to convey hope, compassion and warmth. Another balancing act, in which Teckentrup remains true to her empathetic style and work motto – whatever she is working on, she once said, “My heart and soul has to go into it”.

Top