Stefanie Leinhos, a German illustrator we’ve previously fawned over for her masterful use of illustrative space, has released a new publication with another It’s Nice That favourite, Nieves. Titled The Plausible Impossible, the release takes its name from an episode of Disneyland from 1956, which explained to viewers how “impossible things can seem plausible in drawing and animation.” Stefanie’s interpretation references this; although not animated, it is a confusing jaunt through landscapes filled with “quirky vegetation, bumpy roads and several alleged dead-ends.”
The idea for this particular project has been in the back Stefanie’s mind for some time now, following a continuous interest in animated backgrounds. “I really like this idea of creating something that is directly addressing the readers in their action of reading, while at the same time also just being a story,” Stefanie explains of The Plausible Impossible’s beginnings.
Following research into this theme, the illustrator then came across The Laws of Cartoon Motion, an article by Mark O’Donnell, written for Esquire back in 1980. Within the piece, Mark notes a “certain moment in Roadrunner cartoons, where Wile E. Coyote is painting an entrance on a solid wall, hoping to trick and catch his prey,” Stefanie relays to us. “But, the roadrunner is always passing through, whereas the coyote, trying to follow, can’t. Mark O’Donnell calls it a ‘trompe l’oeil inconsistency,’ which means ‘ultimately a problem of art, not science’, which I think is hilarious. So, in a way, this zine is a little comment on the ‘trompe l’oeil’ attempt of every visual narration – me being Wile E. Coyote, always creating doorways I know I can’t follow.”
Despite developing from a new source of inspiration, Stefanie explains she sees The Plausible Impossible as a continuation of her work from previous projects. For instance, the illustrator notes stylistically it is an extension of work she completed for comics anthology, Clubhouse 13, and “style-wise, I would even say it’s close to the drawings I did for Colophon Foundry, with the difference that I left out the linear parts.”
But when it came to actually creating the eerily comforting pieces which star on The Plausible Impossible’s pages, Stefanie worked with a technique she describes as a “weird detour” – apt, considering the publication’s thematic focus. “I like sketching on the computer with my mouse as a pencil tool that does really crappy curves and spits it out in vectors,” she describes. Following this process, Stefanie will trace the sketches again “with an actual pen on actual paper” to save time: “it would take ages to clear up the curves digitally and do all the details – at least for me.” This process in itself is one the illustrator and artist describes as her very own “weird detour” she tells us, “but somehow I think that it allows me to see things I wouldn’t otherwise.”
Alongside this release towards the end of last year, Stefanie has been busy on other printed projects, particularly two publications showcased at New York Art Book Fair, alongside other commissions. But in terms of methods of working for her unique practice, it’s actually the medium of watercolours Stefanie is looking to explore next, specifically during an upcoming residency: “I’m not really good at it but I think it has potential and I wanna seize my time and blot around like I know what I'm doing!”
In general, this approach is one Stefanie hopes to adopt more often. “Perspectively speaking,” she concludes, “I think I want to take a break from self-publishing and concentrate on other fields again, like drawing or installations, and return to bigger formats. I don’t really have a clear vision of that, I just don’t want to settle down at where I am now.”
GalleryAll images from The Possible Implausible by Stefanie Leinhos
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.