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Work / Illustration

Paul Paetzel on drawing inspiration from life, science fiction and his mother’s still life compositions

Paul Paetzel, his trippy landscapes and spacey scenes have been the toast of It’s Nice That since the invention of sliced bread. Finally, we’ve convinced him to talk to us, and give us the inside scoop on what drives the work once described as the illustration equivalent of the sun.

Born in Berlin, Paetzel has been drawing since childhood, “(like everybody), but I never thought that I could make it work as a profession” he says. “My first knowledge of illustration was Sunday morning cartoons and comic books. In the first comics I made, I’d redraw the panels from my favourite books, put them in a different order and add new text to the speech bubbles, to create my own stories.” His mother also drew a lot in her free time: “Mostly scenes that included our family, or strange still life compositions and natural phenomenon like a solar eclipse. It was by watching her painting and drawing that I understood that you could just create incredible images by yourself. You just needed to want to do it.”

Paetzel describes his core influences as “sci-fi movies, comics and books”, while he also draws inspiration from: “architecture, people on the street, talks with friends or neighbours, public transport, fears and nightmares, obsessive thoughts, a new or lost love, fantasies and memories.” Essentially, the world’s he builds in his work seem to be drawn in some way from life, or at least from memory. His drawings are busy, almost Where’s-Wally busy, and the people and animals bumping into each other overlap through each image: “I want to tell stories – either in a single image or in a sequence – and the easiest way to do that is to use people or animals that can move from picture to picture. They have emotions, they need to solve problems, or create problems, they interact with other, and so on. I also just like it when an image is very crowded, it’s difficult to make an empty drawing.” And considering how his work has evolved since he started out, Paetzel says: “Not much. I still enjoy drawing spaceships and superheroes”. Long may he continue.

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