Stefanie Leinhos could draw pretty much anything again and again and we’d love it. Repetition is a key part of the Leipzig-based illustrators work, often utilising the comic strip format to play with iterating the same form or shape through an inverted black and white colour palette.
Stefanie’s latest book, Read It Out Loud is a continuation of her illustration style, actually forming off the back of a previous series, It will all be worth it in the end, which she completed in 2014 on a scholarship with the Saxony-Anhalt Arts Foundation. Originally displayed as an exhibition (photographs of which can be found on Stefanie’s site), those who dug out her work from four years ago were still intrigued to find out more. “People kept asking me about this project and I was thinking about a way to make it more accessible to the public. I made a rough dummy of a book in 2014 already but I never got into detail with it,” says the illustrator.
It wasn’t until illustrator and fellow Leipzig-based pal Anna Haifisch recently saw the dummy in Stefanie’s studio that she was encouraged “to finally turn it into something,” she explains. “This year’s Millionaire’s Club [Anna’s comic and graphic arts festival in Leipzig], was the like the perfect deadline.”
Launching at the comic fair earlier this year, Read It Out Loud differs from the original its built upon. Initially, drawings in the It will all be worth it in the end artworks were with a fine liner and black ink, but the new works consist of real size copies. “This is on one hand to create a homogenous black,” as the illustrator was keen that no “traces of brush strokes be visible,” she explains. “On the other hand, copying the drawings was a logical consequence to question the term ‘original’.
As a result, Read It Out Loud is a selection of scans from Stefanie’s copies, acting as “a continuation but also a rip-off,” says the illustrator. This description of the work also explains why the publication is subtitled The it will be worth it in the end (2013) Bootleg. In true bootleg style, the book puts the work at the forefront, more of an amalgamation of pages rather than a stiff tome. “I wanted the book to be really just those drawings — no cover, no sleeve, no back,” explains the illustrator. It’s Japanese bound “to give it more volume,” Riso printed “to get a deep black for the flats and still keep it lively with the typical Riso grain,” and features a coil binding which “gives the idea of an infinite spin”. The detailed decisions that build Stefanie’s latest book create a delicate whole where "theoretically there is no certain end or beginning,” she says.
The publication’s name, which is more of an instruction than a title, directly interprets how Stefanie wishes users to interact with the book. “I think the story is telling itself while reading and is very much dependent on the reader,” she explains when discussing the book’s loose narrative. “That’s what the title Read It Out Loud refers to (besides the fact there is no text at all). It’s an invitation to read your own stories within my book — whatever narration you might find in it and to do so loudly because I think looking/seeing/reading is diverse, and should be brought into question.."
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