Witness: The Paper Art of Katrin Rodegast

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Words & interview by Philipp Vogt.
Images courtesy of Katrin Rodegast.

“Made of what?” is a quite common reaction from people who witness Katrin Rodegast‘s work for the first time.

Katrin is a Berlin-based paper artist. Her work shows such a passion for the detail that it immediately caught our eye. But her talents go far beyond paper – ‘tactile illustration’ is what you call Katrin’s profession when she is not doing free artistic work.

Her work displays an enormous amount of creativity and dexterity, and we hardly want to imagine how many nightshifts it takes a human being to pull something like that.

For Witness This Katrin gives some behind-the-scenes insight into the work of a tactile illustrator.

WT: Katrin, you’re a fucking paper wizard. Why paper?

KR: I love the material, and working with it is quite fascinating because it’s so different from fabric, stone, wood, or oil paint. Everybody knows paper, people are in contact with it every day. If I create something with it, it seems to catch people directly. The art piece seems simple and magical at the same time, maybe because everybody thinks they know how it can be made, theoretically.

WT: You are an artist and a freelance illustrator. How do you see the transition between those two realms for yourself and in general?

KR: For me, illustration is art. There is no difference between the realms. In my work, art and illustration go together, yet in different measures every time. As I mostly create editorials for magazines and advertising motifs for brands, my clients give a certain frame of content and timing when commissioning. But I am very free when it comes to designing and building. So having to meet certain expectations doesn’t mean a limitation for me at all, because there is still enough challenge and adventure in creating.

WT: Looking at your latest work for Time Out magazine, the Kensington paper city map – how long does a piece like that take until completion?

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KR: This one for example took a couple of days. Most pieces vary regarding their timing, from some hours to some weeks. Mostly you get a deadline and it has to be finished on that special date – which sometimes means very short nights of sleep.

WT: What’s the most important thing in your creative process?

KR: I need to have fun with what I do, but that usually comes right from the start with every cool new project. On top of that, loud music, cookies and sweets are very helpful working companions.

WT: You have made objects out of Dollar and Euro bills. Seems this project got reeeeeally expensive for somebody…

KR: It might seem like that. But I can assure you: No bills were harmed during the making of those objects.

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WT: How much of your work is planned out versus try-and-error? Do you draw schemes beforehand or do you just start cutting and folding?

KR: I do sketches for each project and discuss them with the client so I never really had any error project going on. I work quite planned, even if the objects look very playful. Mostly, there really isn’t much freaking out going on here. So when I finally start building, I have already done the design and can concentrate on the architecture of things.

WT: What and who inspires you?

KR: Well, that can be everything: traditional art and craft, going to museums, movies, music, architecture, books, travelling, food or doing long trips by train, just staring out of the window for hours. I think some TV series from my childhood inspired me most to what I do now. For example “The Muppets” and “Augsburger Puppenkiste”, a German puppet show, have an amazing set design which still thrills me today. And I love flea markets and supermarkets when I am abroad. You can just leave me there for a few hours and pick me up when the shop closes. I am very addicted to packaging and get quite excited if I see some good food packaging, even if it’s just an instant soup. Berlin is a very inspiring city, too, the speed and creativity of all the people around boost me to think about new stuff every day. It really keeps your brain on the move.

WT: Do you have a favorite among your artworks?

KR: Hmm, hard to decide, maybe my “Paper Office” and my “Kensington Map” for Time Out.

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WT: Your art goes beyond paper. My personal favorite is BROKEN PEACES in which you rearranged old chinawares to give them a new context. I love that dark sense of humor and the contrast versus the cuteness in some other series of yours. Is that an ambiguity that you also find inside yourself?

KR: I always look for things that surprise me. And when they do they really stick to my brain. So I kind of love things that turn out to look different on the second glance. In the BROKEN PEACES series you can find a complete different meaning inside all of those cheesy porcelain objects.






WT: What’s the story behind BROKEN PEACES? Where did you find all those chinawares?

KR: I went to flea markets for weeks, getting up at 5 am, being the first to grab the strangest stuff. After some hours you are in a kind of a trance. Then you find a piece and immediately are able to think up of a weird story about it. Sometimes some friends came by to accompany me and helping me with an additional ideas.

WT: What are your plans for the future?

KR: Hopefully doing this job for some more years, entering new fields like stop motion movies, acquiring new techniques or working abroad. Everything is possible.

WT: Thanks for your time Katrin, and keep it up!

Katrin’s work has been featured in Time Out London, GQ, Men’s Health, WIRED to name only the most illustrious ones, and even made it onto the cover of the famed New York Times Magazine.

She holds the “2012 Talent Of The Year” Award from Germany’s Art Director’s Club (ADC e.V.) for a contemporary quilt connecting traditional quilt art with modern computer-driven social reality themes.

Check it below along with some more of her work or visit her website to understand why we love what she does.


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