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Q&A with Anke Weckmann

Freelance illustrator from London

My name is Anke Weckmann and I'm a freelance illustrator living in London.

How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I grew up in a small town in northern Germany and moved to London in 2001 to study illustration - first at Camberwell College and then at Kingston University. After graduating in 2005 I worked in a shop and spent all of my evenings and weekends working on illustrations. In the autumn of 2008 I had saved enough money to take the leap and go freelance as an illustrator full time. It's been almost 7 years and there have been the inevitable ups and downs along the way but I love what I do and I feel very lucky.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your art studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I mostly work from my studio where I'm uninterrupted and have all the materials I need, can listen to audiobooks and podcasts and have a steady supply of tea and snacks. Occasionally I like to work in a cafe for a change of scenery, or at a library. Especially when I'm trying to come up with ideas, noise helps. Since I sit a lot while I work I make sure to get plenty of exercise, mainly running, yoga and Zumba. And I love to go for long walks. If I am stuck with a project it always helps to get a good workout in, come back and look at it with different eyes.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

There are a lot of girl characters in my work and they are inspired by my lifelong obsession with interesting female characters. It started with a Pippi Longstocking picture book when I was really small and over the years it has included Harriet the Spy, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Katniss Everdeen, Cassie Ainsworth, Lisbeth Salander and many more. I love photography exhibitions for inspiration and films - I love illustration but I don't think it's a good source of inspiration for me as an illustrator. I feel more inspired by art that is a little removed from what I do.

Going for a walk always inspires me because I always see some interesting colours and shapes and meet some friendly cats. I also believe that inspiration comes when you're working, so it's important to start whether you feel inspired or not.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside? 

I think the British Museum is a great place for drawing, I love all the big glass cabinets full of interesting little objects to draw. I will never get tired of the Tate Modern and the comic shop GOSH in Soho is amazing!

Who are the illustrators / designers you admire most?

There are so many! I love Ilon Wikland, Tove Jansson, Janosch, Gemma Correll, Yelena Bryksenkova, Lilli Carre, Lucy Knisley, Charles Schulz, Fran Meneses, Bryan Lee O' Malley, Lindsey Degen, Hans Arp, Maria Ines Gul, Laura Hughes, Rebecca Artemisa and so many more.