Based between Berlin and Vienna, the illustrator known as Ahaok (read: “aha, ok!”) caught our attention with a thoughtful portfolio of charmingly executed drawings. Ahaok studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and “somehow every piece of graphic work I did turned into illustration, which was just my thing,” she reasons.
When it comes to making an illustration for one of her long list of commercial clients — such as Sleek, Salon magazine, Megaphon magazine, Zeitcampus, Spiegel Wissen and Der Spiegel — Ahaok has a very specific way of working. “First I print out the text. I can´t read on the screen. After reading, usually ideas and associations pop up. Then I start drawing. Sometimes I type in the key words on Google — as the digital marketplace of the economic global memory — to see what the most obvious connotation is. Then I either get away from it as far as I can or stick to it as close as possible.”
Among her recent commissions is a collaboration with Omar Sosa for an American client which Ahaok tells us will be released soon, an illustration for a Der Spiegel article “Who am I?” which looked at rethinking gender, and a project for Spiegel Wissen in which Ahaok was asked to illustrate a test for pet owners which asked “what type are you?”
“I always wanted to draw animals being very similar to their masters,” Ahaok says. “Same expressions, totally adjusted to each other. The art direction gave me complete freedom in my way of seeing the world through the pet’s eyes. In fact they became humans and vice versa.”
Working in analogue mostly with a brush, a verve and black ink, or with aquarell, in the last week Ahaok has been exploring a new drawing style using digital brushstrokes “to expand my vision,” she says. “I like when my visual subconscious is triggered and challenged and this happens mainly when the topic is not so easy to penetrate,” she concludes.