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Illustration 2 © Sophie Mildner.jpg

ART Interview 
10th Book Illustration Contest | 2020 

Sophie Mildner
All Illustrations © Sophie Mildner
Originally published in 2020

​Sophie Mildner was one of the 25 illustrators longlisted for the The People’s Choice Award at Book Illustrators Competition 2020. Sophie is a freelance based in Halle, Germany and is a graduate of  Communication Design / Illustration at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle and is represented by Rauchwetter Agency.

Hi Sophie, thanks for talking to TNC, congratulations on making the longlist for the BIC 2020 People's Choice Award, what does it mean for you be part of this competition?

Thanks for having an interview with me. It means a lot to me being part of this competition and being chosen for the longlist, I think it's every creatives wish, that ones own work gets this kind of recognition. It can be hard as a creative getting motivation out of oneself, so possibilities like this are recharging my energy and motivation level up again.

Do you ever feel any apprehension when you hand over your work like this to the pubic?

I do have doubts about my own work every now and then, but in fact when I am satisfied with the result myself I don’t feel any concern about presenting it to the public. Compared to when I started using social media to share my work, I have made a huge progress in this. Besides before I publish important works I catch up a few opinions.  

Is this the first time you've been part of a competition like this?


It's the second time I attended this competition, but the first time I reached the longlist. Beside that, I attended a few competitions so far, some with success, some without. Unfortunately I am living and working in a country, where these kind of illustration competitions aren’t very popular, so I am very glad that my chosen profession gives me the opportunity to go global.

Can you tell me a little bit about the pieces you submitted to BIC 2020?

Since there were 3 Poems to illustrate (A Good Morrow by John Donne, Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson and The Trick by Imtiaz Dharker) I tried to visualise the people, who could think those words and what they are doing while having these thoughts. I tried to transfer it as close to an every day situation as possible with a slight pinch of mystical elements and extraordinariness.

Illustration 3 © Sophie Mildner.jpg

"Unfortunately it's quite hard for me to colour it, so I tried to transfer that technique to my computer and now it's the way I love to illustrate."

The theme for this years BIC 2020 is Love Poems, how did you go about creating your pieces based on this theme?

They are very personal works, because I was and still am in the position to feel this years topic wholly and freshly. I put myself into a certain state of mind, by listening to music, which deals with the topic and got into some stunning flow experiences.

And so I guess I had good conditions to visualise words about love.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating these pieces for BIC 2020?

The most challenging aspect was the decision to start all over again close to the end of the submission. Before that choice, I was stuck with the first picture, neither could I finish it nor continue with the others, so I decided to have a new try.

Did you use any love poems to help you whilst you created your pieces for the competition?

I just used the 3 poems given. But in matter of trying to put myself in the authors position I red some facts about them, and at which point of live they have written those works, to better understand them and to relate to experiences I made myself.

Do you have a favourite love poem?

I don’t have a favourite love poem, but I could identify the most with the one Imtiaz Dharker wrote – The Trick. It reflected completely my current mind and so it was the most personal of this three works. Some said its kind of a self-portrait, 
but I wouldn’t go so far.

Have you always had a passion for animation and illustration?


I’ve always had a passion for drawing. It has been a self cure ever since I could hold a pencil. I decided quite early to go that way in my education and with some distractions I followed it till now.

Illustration 1 © Sophie Mildner.jpg

How much would you say your style and approach to you illustration and design has evolved since you started?

I struggled a lot with the troublesome topic of finding my own style. But lately I get to the point, where I found a way I want my pictures to be like, and the technique with which I can implement it. In the end all the process I made, with plenty of analog techniques and trying out digital ones,  makes sense and leads me to the point in my work where I am now.

But it still feels like the beginning of a journey, nevertheless I walked that way quite a few years.

All my work is inspired by the technique of scratchboard, the one I used for a long time. I also like the metaphoric part of that – you draw the light instead of adding shadow.

Unfortunately it's quite hard for me to colour it, so I tried to transfer that technique to my computer and now it's the way I love to illustrate.

What inspires your work?

The balance of light and shadow always has been the most interesting part in creating a new picture. My inspiration often comes while I walk around and catch an interesting scene of light, mostly at night, or when the sun creates an astonishing atmosphere. I try to use that scenes as a stage for the stories I want to tell. 

Edward Hopper has been a great inspiration, not only how he uses light as a main ingredient in his paintings, but also how his protagonists seem to tell almost whole chapters of their lives by just sitting or standing.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your work?

Generally I want to tell some stories and take the viewer to a specific atmosphere, giving an impulse, so that they can imagine things beyond the pictured. In the specific case of this competition I want the viewer to have an impression of the passion love takes us into, as much as I had, while I red the poems.

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