Illustration runs in the family for Laura Junger. Her mother has always painted and she recalls her grandmother reproducing classical masterpieces in her spare time. Thanks to their influence, the Berlin-based, Paris-born illustrator picked up the pencil very early in life, but unlike her maternal forebears, Laura has made a fruitful career out of the discipline which has, so far, brought her clients including The New York Times, The Weekender and Die Zeit.
Amidst her commissions for editorial giants such as the above, in Laura’s personal work, the French illustrator continues to be greatly influenced by her frequent travels around the world. “I like to experience living in different cities,” she tells It’s Nice That of her migratory patterns. “I work from a new place every year, usually for a month or two. Usually,” she continues, “I try to skip a part of the long Berlin winter and go to the south; Lisbon, Porto, Palermo, Marseille,” she lists to the envy of all of us living on the other side flexible freelance life.
“At first, I sketched while travelling as a tool to remember,” says Laura. It was only after her bachelor’s degree in Paris, then master’s degree in Brussels that she fully got back into drawing. Utilising her education in graphic design, she tends to pay particular attention to the composition of her drawings, considering the balance of white space and the overall impact of an image during the creative process. “I love colours,” adds Laura, “and I have this little eye condition where my eyes get lazy for no reason and everything becomes blurry. Sometimes it’s nice to see shapes and colours in this way, and now, I try to approach all my paintings like that.
Most recently, the illustrator’s latest series sees her attention turn to the babbling streets of New York. “When you’re away from home, and especially in New York, you have this feeling that life is a bit more intense, that you have to see, taste and discover everything,” Laura says on her new series of drawings. She visited the city around a year ago, spending three weeks among the blue skyline of skyscrapers and grey concrete masses and while she was there, she did what she usually does on her travels; took countless images to form the foundation of a painting later on down the line.
Stopping to snap a beautifully lit street corner or an interesting colour combination, for Laura, the New York paintings became an exercise in bettering her compositions. Experimenting with curating her paintings in a poster format, Laura’s trip provided ample room to trial her illustrations this context. “I liked the idea of working with a grid since the whole city is designed on a grid,” she adds on the theme. Through her images, Laura captures the evocative, autumnal atmosphere of the Big Apple. Isolating particular senses, and channelling the brisk air, warm glowing sunsets and rustling wind through paint, she immerses the viewer into the towering skyline.
Wholesome and charming, her New York illustrations summon “good memories of a certain place and time,” despite the fact that none of us were really there with her. Recalling the sunny autumn day through several pages soaked in orangey brown hues, Laura provides a glimpse into her version of New York through carefully clipped gardens, intimate restaurant environments and tiny buildings whizzing past train windows. As for the future, along with commercial work including a collaboration with a perfume brand, Laura hopes to whole-heartedly embrace the spontaneity of freelance life. Painting more, she hopes to tackle images from her recent trips; Japan being the latest in an impressive roster of adventures. “And now that I cleaned up my desk, I will be able to go bigger scale,” she finally goes on to say. “That’s the real challenge.”
Laura Junger: Monopol
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.