Paul Paetzel: Zeit Magazin

Work / Illustration

Paul Paetzel on his illustrations for Zeit Magazin and new comic Lightning Man

No stranger to It’s Nice That, we’ve seen Paul Paetzel go from strength to strength over the years. Most recently, the Berlin-based illustrator has been commissioned by the likes of Zeit Magazin, Biss Magazin and Grafixx. Not to mention the fact that he’s recently completed a 32-page comic and on top of all that, he’s also endured a jaw fracture that’s unfortunately coincided with his Zeit commission. Despite all this, he tells It’s Nice That about how he still managed to sketch out the cover and inside spreads for the recent issue, while recovering at the same time, and even taking inspiration from his hospitalisation.

“I was never seriously ill which meant that I could walk around the hospital and draw wherever I could find a free table”, says Paul. “For me, this was cool because I could distract myself from the strange clinical environment.” Together, with his good friend Ruo Han Wang, the two illustrators drew together in the hallways of the hospital or in its sitting rooms. He took photos of people riding bicycles around the hospital campus, developing his ability to portray motion that eventually made its way into the pages of Zeit.

“Now, when I look back on the busy double-page spread for the commission, I can see the influence from the hospital’s architecture and its crowded corridors, but I turned it into a bike-friendly urban landscape”, adds the illustrator. Finalising the illustrations at home where Paul continued his recovery, he took the opportunity to “put as much detail as possible into the illustration”, only finishing the commission once he felt there was the “right amount of business.”


Paul Paetzel: Plan W

Utilising a similar approach, Paul also created the movie posters for Kit Zauhar’s The Terrestrials, as well as a film by David Fu and Tom Byrnes, This is the Place. Paul says on the design of these posters, “It was a lot of fun working on these, not only because I really like the plot of both movies, but also because of the strong images” he was given as a starting point. For the Berlin-based illustrator, designing the posters felt more like “making collages” as his creative process involved curating some great scenes together, then amalgamating them into a redrawn poster.

Additionally, Paul’s zine Lightning Man came out at the beginning of this year. The publication, printed in an edition of 57 copies by a Xerox machine, featured a black and white linocut cover and follows the story of a superhero who realises that his behaviours and superpowers are often abusive to the people around him. Using only a pencil in an attempt to maintain the “sketchiness” of an image, Paul’s approach to this zine was greatly influenced by the children’s comic course that he teaches at a Berlin youth art school. “The kids created some amazing comic books”, says Paul. Only using pencil and linocut for the front cover, Paul continues, “I wanted to try and do something as cool as them. Their way of working really encouraged me to just let loose and draw more freely”, and probably because of this, Paul finally goes on to say, “In the end, I was really proud of this zine because I was able to produce it much faster than usual, and because it was so much fun to work on.”


Paul Paetzel: Biss Magazin


Paul Paetzel: Lightning Man


Paul Paetzel: Lightning Man


Paul Paetzel: Nobrow Studio


Paul Paetzel: Wobby Magazine


Paul Paetzel: Zeit Magazin


Paul Paetzel: Zeit Magazin


Paul Paetzel: Zeit Magazin


Paul Paetzel: Zeit Magazin