Chipping away at perfection with illustrator Karolin Schnoor | #MemberSpotlight

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You really can get carried away by looking at other people's work. Karolin Schnoor has learned that a long time ago.

Karolin regularly deletes her Instagram app to help her find a bit of time, space and mental rest from her own expectations. As a result, she produces some of the most inspiring illustrations you'll ever see on Creativepool, as the short collection of works below clearly testifies.

Karolin is an incredibly inspiring illustrator and one with many great dreams for the future of her craft. In this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Karolin Schnoor, represented by Friend + Johnson.


How did you get into the industry?

I studied Illustration at the University of the Arts in London and started working before I graduated and have been drawing ever since!

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

After stints in London and New York I have moved to the English seaside and I work freelance from there. My clients range from editorial clients such as the New York Times and the Sunday Times, publishing houses and magazines to commercial clients such as Target, Microsoft & Soulcycle.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I have always been curious about interiors but is that just because I want to buy a lot of beautiful things? I don't know!

Can you explain your creative process?

My work is very much based on colours and shapes so once I have an idea for a drawing I will sketch in colour right away on my tablet to get a sense of composition. Then depending on the application I will create a vector image or do a hand-drawn rendering. I used to screenprint quite a lot and this process of flat shapes and graphic composition still informs my work to this day.

How would you describe your style?

Colourful, thoughtful & bold.


Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I try not to look too much at other people's work and get inspired by industry adjacent projects instead such as photographers or stylists but I do have some illustration heroes. Petra Borner, Marina Forsberg and Sanna Annukka come to mind.

If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?

This is such a tough question because I love my editorial work as well as my decorative illustration work but I have always dreamed of designing wallpaper. I love when illustration is applied and interwoven with everyday life.

How has technology affected the way you work?

I used to do everything by hand and now it's more of a 50/50 approach. Working digitally has really freed me up in terms of working speed but I do enjoy the tactile nature of a hand-drawn image. Working with colour is also much easier on my screen so I try to keep a solid balance.


What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I regularly delete my Instagram app because I think you can get carried away looking at other people's work. My best work comes from having a bit of space, time and rest so I try to prioritise these things.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

I enjoy the breadth of my work and being able to design packaging one week and do a quick turnaround editorial another week so I'd say it's keeping all those things going as opposed to chosing just one!


How do you recharge away from the office?

Outdoor time, cycling and sleep. Can you tell I have young children by how many times I've brought up sleep?

What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?

I think it's important to not blindly pitch your work but chose very deliberately and match who you are contacting to the kind of work you are doing. And just keep chipping away, what you enjoy most and what you're best at might not be the same just yet but you can work towards that.


What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I think the expectation at the moment for social media presence is outlandish. It's a full time job alongside actual illustration and a lot of working illustrators I know don't have the time for it. It reminds me of getting poorly paid editorials at the start of my career! Just the expectation to do so much work for free is crazy and the universality of it also means that the exposure payoff doesn't really exist. I've opted out and hopefully that will turn out to be ok :)

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I'd actually say I most enjoy finding things outside of the industry to stimulate my mind. I'm a huge podcast addict so I'll recommend my favourite podcast, it has nothing to do with illustration but it's consistently amazing and fascinating! It's called Hidden Brain.


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