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Q&A with Paul Hoppe

Illustrator & designer from Germany

My name is Paul Hoppe, I’m an illustrator, author and designer, born in Poland and raised in Germany.

My work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, as well as children’s books and graphic novels, and includes corporate and advertising projects for both American and European clients. I work out of a shared studio in the Pencil Factory in Brooklyn, NY.

How did you get started in illustration? What is your background?

Even though comics were my first love, I originally studied Graphic Design and Fine Arts, because comics and illustration seemed just impossible to pursue where I grew up. But the passion for illustration and comics came back eventually. I came to the US to get my MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts, and have been living and working here ever since.

Let’s talk about the creative process and how you work. What are you working on now?

I like a good mix of projects. In recent weeks, I’ve worked on editorial illustrations, middle grade book covers and corporate projects, and an animatic for an advertising client.

I’ve also just completed over 80 interior illustrations and the cover for a chapter book, the 3rd book of the Last-But-Not-Least Lola series, published by Boyds Mills Press. Fast projects with a lot of drawings suit me well.

When I don’t work on client work, I do personal projects, mostly self-published comic zines with risographed covers.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

With few exceptions, I draw on paper with traditional media, pen and ink, brushes, and various office pens. My coloring usually happens in photoshop. For my children’s books I work even more old-school, and do the coloring with watercolors, to give it more texture and warmth.

What is your ideal work environment?

I share a studio with other artists and designers, very professional and talented folks. This way, interaction and inspiration is always around you, which is good for your work and for your soul.

Where are your favorite places for art?

We’re fortunate to have an abundance of book stores and comic stores here in NYC, where I love to go for inspiration. Books Of Wonder, Word, BookCourt, Desert Island, Mysterious Time Machine,… too many to name!

Old buildings and the urban landscape, and the people of New York are still inspiring me after all these years. I love the parks, the water, Coney Island… and of course the many museums and galleries. My favorite is probably the MET, because you can truly get lost in it.

Who are the illustrators, designers you admire most?

I was always a fan of the classics, Saul Steinberg, Milton Glaser, Tomi Ungerer, Maurice Sendak, amazing comic artists like David Mazzucchelli…

In recent years, my colleagues and friends that I met through the MFA Illustration program at SVA and the Pencil Factory have had the biggest impact on my work. They really keep me on my toes.