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Thursday 8 February 2024

Meet The Illustrator: Ruth Fulknit

Ruth Fulknit

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Often meant to be sad but surprisingly making people laugh.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My grandmother’s dip pen, my mother’s watercolour crayons, the pen holder my father made for me and my favourite gouache paints from childhood.
Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I like to explore different kind of mediums. My last project was a series of monotype prints for example. 

When in doubt (which I often am) I usually start painting with cheap kid’s gouache to connect myself to the part of my brain that doesn’t care so much about rules. Later I switch to more fancy Aquarelle and gouache colours, mix in some pastels and crayons… My favourite pencil is a so-called “Wirtestift” – a water-soluble pencil for barkeepers. Especially enjoy Neocolor II and Inktense coloured pencils.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Just three? Think of all the superheroes like Jansson, Kerr, Ungerer, Steig, Macauley, McKee, Wilkoń… impossible to pick just three! But I will tell you my three German favourites:
Lilo Fromm, Margret Rettich and Herbert Holzing.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Probably expressionism (minus the war). Maybe have a cup of coffee with Charlotte Salomon, Gabriele Münter and Paula Modersohn-Becker.
But really I would love to visit the studios of some of the great illustrators of the 50s - 80s to see what tricks they used pre computers… all those secret foils, stamps, stencils, lamps and printing techniques...

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I don’t think I have really made this decision. It was (or still is) a slow process with many detours. I first studied linguistics for a while. Later went to art school where I mostly focused on making installations, although drawing and writing always were a big part of it.
The endless afternoons doing arts and crafts with my grandma in her little kitchen combined with my mom taking me to the library every week have probably been most influential in making me become an artist though.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
Here you see my little kitchen table as I don’t have a studio and live in a very tiny apartment. This is where I do most of my work. And where I eat and sew and knit and write and iron and spill my coffee… It is the heart of everything. It is not always easy to move things around all the time. There is a lot of improvising and drying papers on the floor or pasting things to the doorframes or tying strings to the lamppost and crawling underneath the desk to find a pen. My inks have taken over my old herb shelves and the coffee filter holder is stuffed with paper scraps I use for collages. I improvised some shelves for my ‘crayon family’ to have a little more desk space. The enamel cups were part of an old set for making punch. Everything else is stored away in various cupboards around my apartment. It looks different every day and maybe that is also a good thing.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Collecting ideas in the very beginning. Fantasising about all the possibilities. Also the moment close to the end when you know it is going to work out and you can stop worrying (I worry a lot). I also enjoy drawing monotonous patterns that seem to go on and on and get lost in them.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Get yourself the same crayons or paints you enjoyed as a child. Leave an unfinished something on your desk at night for an easy morning jumpstart and never leave your toaster unattended...


Ruth Fulknit is a European illustrator who grew up near the Seven Mountains in Germany and enjoys drawing stories.

For more information, please visit Ruth's website or follow her on instagram.