Discover the emotive work of illustrator Karlotta Freier

Such an approach has developed from Karlotta’s lifelong passion for illustration – although it is a passion that used to hide in the background of her interests. Fascinated by elements of craftsmanship from a young age, after school she tried plenty of jobs which sat adjacent to solely drawing; like working at a tattoo studio, for a fashion designer and in a theatre’s costume department. In fact, her first choice for a university course was illustration’s (sometimes) more sensible sibling graphic design, but she thankfully switched after a semester. “Somehow I had dreamt of being an illustrator since childhood, without really understanding that it was a profession,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I remember saving the wrapping paper of a chocolate that had beautiful drawings on it and thinking: ‘Damn, must be great to make drawings for chocolate.’”
As Brooklyn-based Karlotta Freier describes her approach to illustration, it soon becomes clear that drawing is an emotional act for the artist, rather than a technical one. For example, while discussing her portfolio to date, Karlotta notes how she strives “more for atmosphere than cleverness,” aiming to narrow in on mundane elements to create cohesive, relatable scenes. In turn, pouring emotion into her work is the self-drawn red thread across Karlotta’s portfolio, utilising illustrative techniques like “intentional line work” or “careful colour combinations and a courageous composition” to create her pieces.
But a profession now it is. Steadily working as an illustrator in the editorial field, Karlotta’s emotional craftsmanship is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of articles, from the pages of LA Times to The New Yorker. Digging deep into the articles she is assigned, Karlotta’s first task is to “search them for tension,” she explains. “The emotional world is narrative enough for me so I often just concentrate on that. Hope, sadness, longing, anger, solitude, fear, surprise, annoyance… it’s fun to inhabit drawings with figures who just feel stuff.” A favourite drawing which demonstrates this seamlessly is Karlotta’s illustration for an article by Ruby Tandoh, A Good-Natured Pastry For Bad-Tempered Cooks. Opening with the writer detailing a recent habit of heading out for a walk “with a small apple pie tucked in my anorak pocket”, Karlotta’s image describes exactly this. At first this might seem straightforward, but Karlotta’s drawing grows in meaning as you read on, from the tightness of the character’s grip on the round pie featured, to her depiction of a powerful stride making its way through the foliage.

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