Why did you decide to become an author
and when did you write your first book?
How long does it take to finish a book?
Do you write every year a book?
How many books have
Do you write first the story or do you start
with the illustrations?
Is it a dream job to be an author?
Is it possible to make a living with this job?
Have you ever realized some illustrations
on the computer?
do you use for your
How do you create the effect with the
Do you have children?
In 1984 I still worked 50% as a Graphic Designer in a publicity
agency in Zurich. In addition I was looking for a possibility to
express more my talents as an illustrator, since in the agency we
worked almost exclusively with text and photography. So by the
end of 1984 my first sketches for “The Sleepy Owl” emerged
nearly by accident.
After finishing text and illustrations for the book, I sent this project
to four different Swiss editors. But only the fifth and last one,
North-South books in Zurich, agreed to publish my book.
Afterwards it took other 18 months before I could see my first
printed picture book - an unforgettable moment!
Depending of the technique it takes three to four months to finish
a book. In between I’m occupied with book-signing tours, visits to
book fairs and working on other projects.
Normally each spring and fall I present a new book. Of course
there are exceptions: It’s possible that in one year there will be
published three picture books and another year only one. Usually
I create two books a year.
Up to now (April 2010) I have created 51 books and for 48 of them
I wrote my own stories. I soon realized, that it was a struggle to
illustrate stories for other authors and that it was much more fun
to develop my own concepts and stories. And the fun and joy to
work is still the most important motivation for me: If I wouldn’t
enjoy what I’m doing, the books wouldn't have the high quality
that is so important to me.
This can change from one book to the next.
The initial idea for a new project can be as a visual idea for a new
character, as a new concept for a story or even just the interest in
a new technique. Certainly I have a rough course of action in mind
when I start with the first sketches.
It can be that I develop a new story based on first sketches with a
new character, or that a story changes completely during the
process of illustrating. For me this is one of the big advantages of
being author and illustrator at the same time.
I have the best job in the world! My job is it to bring a little bit of
joy to children and their parents. What could be better?
Even after 20 years I enjoy every morning (even on Mondays)
going downstairs in my atelier to work on new projects.
But I have to add, that even as a graphic designer I felt very, very
good. I would enjoy creating again a logotype or an entire pub-
licity concept and sometimes I miss the direct customer contact.
I had a very good time working as an independent graphic artist,
but I don’t regret becoming an author and illustrator.
I was fortunate in that North-South has al-
ways look to foreign language editions for
the sale of my books and that my books have
always worked very well on foreign markets.
When the Rainbow Fish became really big-time,
I started to focus completely on children's books.
Before I worked simultaneously as graphic artist
Without this international success, it would
be impossible for me to make a living with my
books. The production of these books is expensive
and the Swiss market much too small.
No, not yet. Even the first releases of my stories emerge as
handwritings on a notepad before I revise them on the computer.
But when I watch my second son Miro working on his computer,
observing all the possibilities you have today with modern
programs such as In-design, Illustrator and so on, it tempts me
every now and then to try them out.
There was a time I worked nearly exclusively with watercolors.
Later I tried to include other techniques like, pastel crayons,
acrylics, and different brush technique, such as using a tooth-
brush. The passion to check out new techniques led me to the
idea to adapt holographic foil stamping, divided pages or ama-
zing folding techniques in my books. My newest illustrations for
example have been created in a cast-technique. Every part of
the illustration becomes a cut out of cardboard before I print it
When I have completed an illustration,
I put a transparency over the picture and
I mark all the parts with black acrylic color,
which is then stamped with the holographic
foil. During production, the book becomes
printed first as a normal four color book
without any foil. The foil becomes stamped
only in a second procedure by metallic
stamps that have the exact form I drew in
acrylic on the transparency at the beginning,
on another printing press.
Yes, I have four: Sophie (6 years), Nina (18 years), Miro (21
years) and Yannik (22 years).
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