Hello Dear Anne-Kristin Vaudour. Thank you for giving us the chance to Interview with you. Our first question is what’s your background?
Thank you for this interview opportunity. I came to being an artist only later in life. It has been my childhood dream, but regrettably as many do, I listened to the people around me and went for a “safe” career path. I studied Sinology and Communication and Media. Although I had really interesting jobs in Arts & Cultural Management and Luxury Retail, which allowed me a lot of travelling, my job dissatisfaction grew every day. The long office hours in Hong Kong didn’t help to make me feel better. At the age of 30, I finally quit everything and with a leap of faith, went studying Fashion - and Costume design in Italy. I had a blast. It felt so good to be finally doing what I always wanted to do and Italy is the best place to study any artistic or creative field. Art and beauty are all around you and the teachers have a very profound knowledge due to the long tradition of producing first class artists. But after 1 year, I ran out of savings and I had to go back to Hong Kong with the plan to save up again and having another go at my artistic career. The coming 4 years were hard work and finally I went to Italy again. This time to study children book illustration. It was as delightful and fulfilling as the first time. But again, after 2 years I ran out of savings and had to think of a Plan B. I considered to stay in Italy and continue studying while working, but the local salaries made it difficult to make ends meet. Yet, I didn’t want to return to Hong Kong again, so I asked my very accommodating ex-employer for a transfer to Singapore, where I am still residing now.
About 4 years ago, I finally had the opportunity to become a full time artist and din’t look back since then. To anyone who has a dream, I advise you to go for it. Don’t listen to well meant advices around you. Only you know what you want, nobody else does!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what drove you to choose art as a career?
I grew up in a communist public mass-housing compound in East Germany. We called it concrete forest and in terms of architecture, it was as banal as it gets. The buildings were functional and designed to house many people while saving space. There was no love in the detail. I am still getting depressed when I see buildings like this. It’s so numbing for your senses. My only way to get away from that grey existence was escapism. With the help of some beautifully illustrated old children books and an occasional Vogue magazine, I spent most of my time in my head, imagining a life where I am surrounded by beauty. And I loved drawing to express my longings. I drew things I wished would exist.
As soon as I was able to do so, I left my home for China. I wanted to go far away, looking for adventures and wanting to find out what life had to offer at the other side of the world. I never went back to live in Germany and spent most of my life in South East Asia.
I love beauty. I think the beautiful things brighten our mood, create nice feelings and make our lives richer and more fulfilling. I want to offer my own contribution to bring more beauty and joy to this world.
We want to talk about your "Imperial Eyewear Collection". In this collection, we see that you set off from historical figures and blend them with 'glasses'. Could you share your story behind this collection with our readers?
On occasion, I visited old castles with my parents and the portraits on the walls, always left a deep impression on me. They were full of unimaginable glamour and luxury. The elaborate hairdo with pearls and feathers, the finely embroidered silk, the exclusive jewellery… I stood in front of those paintings in complete awe and my imagination was running wild. Who were these people and what were their lives like? It felt as if my beloved fairy tales were coming alive.
The fascination with portraits never left me. Later in life, when I designed my Imperial Eyewear collection, I asked myself the question, what if the extravagant aristocracy of the past, who spent an extraordinary amount of money on their dress, hat or jewellery to underline their status, would have had access to modern day manufacturing of sunglasses? Or better, what if the idea of today’s eyewear fashion would have existed?
So I started to imagine being the creator of eccentric eyewear for Marie Antoinette, Maria Theresa, Nefertiti, Giacomo Casanova and other fashion icons in history. I carefully took into consideration their personal style and wardrobe to represent a most authentic look.
Another reason why I am doing the Imperial Eyewear collection is my deep respect for the Old Masters. For most of my eyewear creations I am using rather unknown portraits of people, which I want to introduce to modern audiences. I wish to foster more interest in historic portraiture by giving them a modern twist. In their days, the sitters were socialites or celebrities. But in lack of Vogue magazine or Harper’s Bazaar etc. in the old days, those portraits are often everything that reminds us of their existence.
Visiting historic places and castles is still one of my favourite activities today. It’s like time travel and there is always some mystery or exciting story to discover.
How do you make sure you have time to create? Do you have a set time or build it into your calendar?
I am lucky enough to be a full time artist. I try to make art everyday, except on weekends and on holidays. Some days I have to dedicate to administration, logistics or marketing as this is part of the job. But mostly, I have sufficient time for my creations. It’s important to work hard in order to make this a sustainable career.
What's your tip or best way you maintain a live/work balance? Do you struggle with it? When do you know you're lacking balance?
I am personally not struggling with a live/ work balance since I quit my office job and focus 100% on my art. I work in my home studio and follow my passion. I am most happy, when I am in a flow and time passes without me noticing it. But I still make sure that I spend enough time with my son and my family.
Before deciding to become a full time artist, it’s important to have a business model in place and implement it as soon as possible. I believe that everyone can be a thriving artist, if one decides to go down that road.
How does art-making impact other parts of your life?
It makes my life more interesting. Since I am drawing nearly every day, I am looking at things more closely and study all little details to reproduce a plausible illusion on paper. I remember when people around me started to get uncomfortable because I stared at their eyes for too long and with too much intensity to study the reflections :D.
I am more conscious and aware of the effects that are created by colour and light. I can say that my reality has changed.
I have more interesting discussions with other artists and I get to know more people who appreciate art.
What is your creative process like and how has your style changed over the years?
I studied illustration and oil painting in Italy. I still love those techniques very much, especially painting with oil. But currently I am mostly working in digital. It allows me to execute my ideas with greater speed. I need to act on my ideas quickly, otherwise I am afraid of loosing half of them. Besides, my ipad is easy to transport. It’s like my whole painting studio in a pocket.
In terms of style, I like creating figurative and realistic artworks. I mainly design fantasy portraits, drawing references for history, fashion, mythology and nature.
Over the years, my drawings became more refined. When I am looking at my oil paintings that I did 5 years or more ago, I realise that my subject matter didn’t change much, but I have come a long way in terms of skills and technique.
Can you talk about any other current or upcoming projects?
I will definitely continue my Imperial Eyewear collection and showcase more interesting historic portraits. At the same time, I am expanding into the NFT space. It is important for me to be on a safe and curated platform, such as Brytehall (curated by Vogue Singapore), where a selection of my Imperial Eyewear collection is available now.
I am also doing a hand embroidered edition of my Imperial Eyewear collection for the Affordable Artfair in Singapore, which will be held in November this year.
In future, I am looking for more collaborations with fashion brands, for textile design and accessories (such as funky sunglasses :). And I am also writing and illustrating a children book. So, exciting times ahead!
Anything else you'd like to mention that I didn't ask?
All the above sounds like a dream came true for me, which it truly is. But as satisfying as it is to make art full time, it also comes with its challenges. It’s quite a solitary job and requires a lot of self drive and motivation.
Especially in the beginning, I had a lot of self doubt and wasn’t sure if I will ever be able to make it as an artist. But the alternative, going back to my office life wasn’t an option.
If you opt for this career, the only way is to work hard and never loose faith. And make sure you stay connected to the people around you, especially other art lovers and artists.