The 10th Book Illustration Competition theme is Love Poems which was selected and edited by Imtiaz Dharker. The winner will be commissioned to complete a further six illustrations and a binding for the book which will be published by The Folio Society.
Eva Münnich is one of the 25 illustrators longlisted for the The People’s Choice Award at Book Illustrators Competition 2020. Eva lives in London and studied at HFG Offenbach in Germany
Hi Eva, thanks for talking to TNC, how's your week looking?
Hi! Thanks for having me!
This week i´ve been working on my exhibition piece for the upcoming Pictoplasma festival in Berlin. I participated in the Pictoplasma academy program last year and we will have an exhibition alongside the festival showing our character based artworks. I'm making little sculptures based on my flower lady characters.
Congratulations on making the longlist for the BIC 2020 People's Choice Award, what does it mean for you to be part of this competition?
Thank you! I ́m amazed to be in this selection of super talented and well known people. I'm quite new to illustration and I'm super happy I got selected into the longlist! I love the variety of styles and artistic expression in this years selection!
Do you ever feel any apprehension when you hand over your work like this to the public?
Since illustration is such a subjective art form it always feels weird putting yourself out there. At the same time it is very exciting to see how people react to my work and how it is perceived.
Is this the first time you have been part of such a competition like this?
Yes! I ve just started pushing towards illustration last year and I'm still exploring styles and trying to find my niche.
Can you tell me a little bit about the work you submitted to BIC 2020?
The task was to interpret three love poems into illustrations. „The Good Morrow“ by John Donne, „Wild Nights“ by Emily Dickinson and „The Trick“ by Imtiaz Dharker. They range over 3 centuries and are very different in length and tone. My illustrations each show one aspect of the complex texts that spoke the most to me and hopefully evokes curiosity in the viewer to read the poem. Luckily love is a universal human emotion that transcends centuries and is easy to relate too despite differences in gender, sexual orientation or status.
The theme for this years BIC 2020 is Love Poems, how did you go about creating your pieces based on this theme?
I started with very rough sketches of images and elements that popped into my head while reading the poems. I then let these sit for a bit while reading up more about the poets life as well as interpretations of the poems. I focussed on one aspect that intrigued me the most per poem. The idea of a secret inner space you share with your loved one in „The Good Morrow“, the feeling of longing when you look out over the sea which Emily Dickinson uses to describe her desire for love in „Wild nights“ and the warm and flowing yet lost feeling Imtiaz Dharker evokes with „The Trick“. The finals actually didn't change much from the roughs regarding the base idea but a lot in the details and final composition of elements.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating these pieces for BIC 2020?
It was actually the language barrier. Fortunately I found translations into german for all pieces. I think it's essential to not miss anything when trying to understand a poem. I also wanted to create images that have a connection to modern life without losing the link to the author's intention and circumstance in which they wrote the piece.
Did you use any love poems to help you whilst you created your pieces for the competition?
No I focussed on the poems at hand. I looked up information about the author's life to get a grip on what images might translate their intention best.
Do you have a favourite love poem?
I ́m afraid I don't have one. For me reading poetry still evokes a feeling of resistance that I have to consciously fight to be able to enjoy that form of literature. I blame the education system for that. Much like the film „Dead Poets Society“ describes: you cannot understand or connect to poems on an emotional level when you're forced to analyze their rhyme structure at 9am in the morning.
I think that's a pity. It's also much easier to be cynical and to push away emotions. Something you cannot do when confronted with poems.
"I think it's essential to not miss anything when trying to understand a poem."
Have you always had a passion for design and illustration?
I did, I got lead there by enjoying story based art forms like comic books and animated films as a kid. I drew comics and fashion „designs“ before going on to study film in art school. The course was very open to experimentation and didn't force us into using classic narrative structures to tell stories. I love the concept and storyboard phase of making a short film but I do not enjoy working on set, therefore I started focussing on animation. The process of creating animations gives you full control over the image which I enjoy greatly. From there the next step is to tell the whole story in just one image which is what makes illustration so intriguing to me. It's a super exciting challenge.
You are a graduate from the Hochschule für Gestaltung, what was this experience like for you?
Studying at the HFG was an awesome experience. The structure of the course i quite open so you get to experiment a lot. I dabbled into mask and prob building, set-design a creating analogue effects. You also get to work together with students of all years and learn together. The HFG gives a profound knowledge base in philosophy, sociology and art history which I think is an essential aspect in learning how to think conceptually.
"The course was very open to experimentation and didn't force us into using classic narrative structures to tell stories. "
How much would you say your style and approach to your illustration and design has evolved since you started?
After graduating I focussed on making a living in animation which led me to produce very dull and applicable designs most of the time. I got unhappy and frustrated. I then moved to London 2,5 years ago which gave me a big push. Everybody here is so great and talented and even though this creates a lot of pressure it also is very encouraging. I started exploring what I actually want to be putting out in the world and what my contribution to the illustration/design landscape could be. I think i highly underestimated what a change of scenery can do for me and my work.
What inspires your work?
Science fiction movies and imagery, experimental films, street art, fashion photography, simple but charming characters like mr. men, bold colour schemes, 90s music videos, motion-graphics, geometric shapes, overweight animals.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your work?
A feeling of joy. Maybe the inspiration to explore the topic further. Ideally my images would start a story in people's heads but I'd also be content with them just thinking „huh, nice!“.