We Interview The Artist Shaking Up Berlin's Art Scene
Interdisciplinary illustrator Ju Schnee wants you to just go for it.
Ju Schnee is an Austrian artist and illustrator who, despite not yet being thirty, has already established her own creative studio and worked on campaigns for Refinery 29, The LA Lakers, Nike, Samsung, Kelloggs, Milky Chance, and Adidas- designing a pair of trainers and a window facade for their Berlin store.
Skillfully combining illustration with graphic design and animation, her signature abstract and vibrant shapes have made her style instantly recognizable. Often mixing different physical and digital techniques, she works in multiple-media from sculptures and paintings to illustrations and futuristic animations.
Her studio inhabits the color and fun that you see in all of her creations. Inviting bright green walls welcome you in, a signature Schnee shape is immortalized in the form of a neon light which glows brightly, abstract furnishings fit themselves around the place, and walls are lined with her artworks.
While her animations and creations transport you into surreal worlds, her studio transports you into the world of the artist, to a place of vibrance, color, and creativity. In this creative bubble, we spoke about her work and role as an artist.
How would you describe your work and practice to those who don’t know you?
I’m a freelance illustrator but I work in different disciplines. So I do real-life illustrations like murals as well as digital illustrations and animations but everything is made in an abstract and really colorful way.
Has this multidisciplinary approach been quite freeing? You work in so many different forms, from murals to animations and set design, it’s amazing.
I never wanted to be limited to one medium, or to be solely a digital illustrator. I live in this colorful abstract world! There is so much space available to explore, and so many shapes and illustrations to create! Having this freedom has provided me with many more ideas than if I had restricted myself to a single practice.
When I look at something I see it in various forms; I don’t only think in a two dimensional way but in a three dimensional way as well. I look at the world, I create shapes, and I bring them to life. It’s definitely freeing.
The abstract shapes you’re talking about really define your style and are now emblematic of your work, can you tell us a bit more about them?
My shapes came into my life a few years ago when I started drawing and doing illustrations. They're inspired by the doodles and squiggles that happen when you use the pen naturally without thinking about it.
I took those shapes that happened subconsciously and scaled them up. The abstractions came to life and now I always use them! They can be in different sizes and colors but they're always in there somehow. I've never really searched for a unique style, it just came to me.
Is your work purely abstract then? Or are your shapes ever used symbolically?
While my shapes are often abstract, I do try and bring some depth and meaning into the creation of my art even if people don’t notice it right away. A triptych in my studio at the moment is called “MTV Made Me”, which I made by mixing different digital programs together to utilize both two and three-dimensional elements of my Ju Schnee shapes.
Each artwork symbolizes a song that shaped my teenage years; Bjork "All Is Full Of Love", Nirvana "Heart-shaped Box", and a David Bowie track. The colors I chose were inspired by the colors used in each of the music videos, and in the ways that the artists choose to express themselves. If you look closely you can see David Bowie’s tie, Kurt Cobain’s hidden in a reflection, and other personal elements are there too.
If you don’t know the story and symbolism behind the pieces then they may just look like abstract artworks to the viewer. Once you take a look at the videos and at the stories behind them the art comes to life, but you don’t know unless you know!
Generally, are you more driven by the outcome of a project or by the creative process?
Sometimes I'm more driven by the creative process, especially when I do personal illustrations and artworks. When I'm painting, for example, I just let myself flow and let it happen. In certain projects, the outcome is more important than my process though. For commercial jobs, if I have a brief then of course I have to stick to it. I’ll have an outcome in my mind which I’ll work through until it’s finished.
You’ve worked on campaigns with a lot of amazing brands, but you also take on solo projects. Do you have a favorite project so far and if so why?
In terms of size, one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on was painting a mural in New York, which was really fun as New York happens to be one of my favorite cities. But in terms of my own work, being recognized as an artist in the art world makes me really happy. I’ve recently had a solo exhibition and my work has been displayed in group shows in this city, and in others too. This public recognition has helped me grow into the role of an artist.
Has accepting this role of an artist changed the way in which you move through the world?
I’ve always moved through the world as a creative, in the way that I move, dress, and behave with other people. I am colorful, I love to express myself, it's the way I am.
When I walk through the streets I get inspiration from the same things, the colors, the shapes, the people. Just walking around with an open mind allows room for new thoughts, feelings, and ideas. I soak everything in. Throughout the years I’ve grown into the woman that I am now, and that’s led to me defining myself as an artist.
Any advice for women getting into a creative industry?
Just do it! Don't think about it too much, don't think about what others say. If you want to do something just do it and try it out. You don’t have anything to lose!
Watch our interview with Ju below: