Describing her work as “playful, whimsical and a bit wobbly”, Berlin-based illustrator Katja Gendikova creates distinctive characters whose lanky limbs flow with movement. Switching between digital and acrylic paint, heavy black outlines and no outlines at all, Katja’s work is full of charm because of these unruly bodies. “I love odd looks – beautiful is regular, which means for me it is not of so much interest,” Katja tells It’s Nice That. “I also love bodies and body movements and mistrust faces a bit – in the end, a face is not much more than five holes.”
From illustrations for the newspaper Taz centred around a daily hashtag to her many self-published books, Katja enjoys communicating the fantastic in the everyday. Her illustration series From Ah to Oh tells people’s unexpected sex stories, whereas her commission by Lesen und Schreiben, called Tomatoes in the Bathtub brings to life the surreal tales written in one of the German organisation’s creative writing workshops.
Her book Belka Bellt, which tells the true story of Soviet space dogs Belka and Strelka, straddles the line between real-life wonders and the happenings of Katja’s imagination in a particularly fun way. Aboard the Korabi-Sputnik 2, the two dogs were the first creatures (alongside a grey rabbit, 42 mice, two rats and some plants and fungi) to venture into the earth’s orbit and come back alive. Brought up in a Russian family, Katja knew the story of Belka and Strelka well but was surprised that her German peers were less familiar with the canine cosmic pioneers.
Given the story’s bizarreness, Katja knew it would be a great fit with her style. “I read about a strange incident that occurred at 110km, which was recorded by the observers back on Earth,” explains Katja. “Previously very calm, Belka started barking at something and tried to tear herself from her seatbelt, as if to attack something coming from the outside of their capsule. No one ever explained this mysterious situation, so I thought, let’s do it!” Featuring modern-day Berlin, black holes, time-travelling and The Beatles, the story is only slightly more surreal than the equivalent of a pet shop venturing through space.
- We take a look back at the best stories of the year to date
- Atelier Brenda and Amélie Bakker create “squidgy” identity for Beursschouwburg
- Thomas Pratt photographs the effects of religion, natural disaster and globalisation on an island community
- Viacheslav Poliakov shoots the “folk-baroque-industrial mess” of Ukraine and Poland
- “Even bad pizza is kind of good”: Five life lessons from David Droga
- Join Cachetejack and Dropbox for a collaborative workshop at OFFF Barcelona
- Netflix moots move into print with new publication, Wide
- “Allowing a modern audience to see Helvetica for the first time”: Charles Nix talks us through the newly released Helvetica Now
- Dating app Hinge gets a makeover, asks users to use it less
- The most relaxing colour in the world? Dark blue apparently
- By You: Nike's customisable range gets a new name, and a new look
- Rejane Dal Bello on using graphic design to talk about hard topics in a joyful way