While some of the artists I have invited to join the flock here at Other Cool Birds are men and women whom I have met in person, whose work I first encountered in galleries or studios here in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, I can only get to so many galleries and studios.
That’s why my favorite thing about Twitter is the fact that I have been able to come across the illustrations and paintings and photography and other artwork of remarkable artists from around the world. Artists whom I may have never known about otherwise.
Like German artist, Ramona Kaulitzki, whose delightful illustrations always make me smile. There’s a sweetness and an innocence to her characters that is undeniable. And a connection, it seems, between many of those characters that intimates compassion and love.
I find it interesting that, as happened with artist GC Myers, an injury played a rather profound role in Ramona’s artistic development. See her response below about the creation of “Winter Campfire” and her knee injury.
Ramona loves telling stories and she uses her illustrations to do just that. She also enjoys creating “fine art” and I am especially drawn to her use of color and textures, and to the juxtaposition of those elements. As a writer and book lover, I’m also drawn to the alternative book covers she’s done (you’ll find three on this page), and to Ramona’s interest in sharing themes like empathy and tenderness with young people.
You’ll find her love of animals conveyed in her fine art and in her illustrations. Of course, don’t take my word for it. I’ve just provided a sampling of her work here.
Below is an interview I recently had with Ramona who mentioned that she found the process helpful. “To take a step back,” she said, “and put all this into words. I’ve never really done that. I learned a lot about my work and myself.”
OTHER COOL BIRDS: Young Adult author, Jacqueline Woodson says that writers tend to focus on the time in their lives they’re still working through. Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim as it relates to Visual Artists (or to your work)? If so, how?
RAMONA KAULITZKI: I think she is right, there is truth to that in visual arts too. I loved being a child, but childhood certainly has it’s own challenges. When I create illustrations I often think about these. And then I also think a lot about my two little nieces who are maybe facing similar problems and fears. I try to think of ways on how I could help them with my stories to overcome these.
OCB: What are you illustrating or creating art for (as in, what is the deep-down driving force behind your choice to illustrate in the first place)?
RAMONA: When I’m drawing or painting I’m always right in the current moment. I don’t think about anything else and that is a great place to be in.
I also love to tell stories. I have several sketchbooks filled with ideas and little characters. Since I’m more a visual artist I mostly tell my stories through illustrations. Creating little characters and imagining the world they live in is probably the part that resonates the most with me.
OCB: What technique/media did you use to create your wonderful illustrations (like The Fox Singing Around the Campfire, and the Owls Sledding image)?
RAMONA: “Winter Campfire“ and “Sledding Owls“ are both done digitally with Photoshop. I first did a drawing with digital pencil and then put the colors in different layers behind it.
Doing the “Winter Campfire“ illustration was an interesting experience. I couldn’t leave the house because of a broken knee and for some reason I had no Internet for several days, so I was rather isolated. But having no distractions and interruptions at all had a surprisingly positive effect on my creative process. I had no chance to compare myself with all the amazing art that we see everyday in social media.
This was somehow extremely liberating, as I could just concentrate on being myself.
OCB: I see that you typically work in vector art and digital painting, but “also like to integrate analog mediums” into your work. Could you explain that a little and provide an example?
RAMONA: I still love to draw and paint with traditional mediums, but I really like the advantages of working digital. So I sometimes combine these two worlds. For my “Tiger” illustration for example I did a pencil drawing, scanned it into Photoshop and colored it digitally. I also have a variety of textures that I like to use in my illustrations to get a more traditional look.
OCB: Each of your illustrations conveys a story. Did you have a favorite book, illustration, or illustrator when you were young (or now)? If so, why?
RAMONA: As a young child I was more drawn to non-fiction books. I used to lay on the floor for hours and draw all kinds of animals that I could find in these books. My interest in picture books and illustration came when I was a little older. I have two little brothers to whom I loved reading children‘s books. I didn’t have a particular favorite book or illustrator though.
I grew up with Harry Potter. I think I was about 7 when the first book was published in Germany. That definitely had a big impact on me, the story as well as the illustrations.
I still love to dive into this captivating wizardry world every now and then. Nowadays, I have countless favorite illustrators. William Joyce, Dan Santat, Kelly Murphy, Renata Liwska and Carter Goodrich are maybe the most inspiring to me at the moment.
OCB: There’s a magical or dreamlike quality to so many of your illustrations. Is that intended and, if so, why?
RAMONA: I tend to illustrate scenes and stories that I would have enjoyed as a child. That is maybe where the adventure part comes from. I spent a lot of time outdoors as a little girl, fighting imaginative pirates with my friends, searching for dinosaur bones, exploring old abandoned houses and things like that.
I also like to think that my art could have an impact on people especially on children, even if it is small. Empathy, caring for the people around you and tolerance are important values for me. My love for animals and nature is also a big inspiration for many of my illustrations.
OCB: How long have you been interested in creating art and what sort of background or training do you have?
RAMONA: Like most artists, I’ve been drawing since I can remember.
I tried a variety of different mediums and techniques over the years. It was always clear for me that I wanted to do something creative for a living.
Since everybody told me that you couldn’t make money with painting, I went for an education in graphic design. I was doing vector illustrations since I was 16 and therefore I was able to start freelancing right after school. I continued drawing in my free time and started sharing my children’s illustrations on social media.
In the middle of 2017, my agency found me and since then I’m working as a children’s illustrator, which is really a dream job for me!
OCB: If you could work on any project (a personal one, time traveling to work with another artist, etc.), what might it be and why?
RAMONA: I would probably still work on my own picture books. Also I’ve always loved Disney, so working on one of their animated movies with all the amazing artists there would be an interesting experience.
OCB: You mentioned, aside from commissioned work, that you love working “on self-initiated projects like fine art series,” or your own children’s book. Could you tell us a little about your book or about any exciting projects coming up for which we should keep on the lookout?
RAMONA: I’m currently working on a series of horse paintings. We did a little photo shooting with the horses of my horseback riding trainer for reference material. I just love everything about horses: their indulgent and quiet nature, their elegance, their smell. Linking these two parts of my life was an inevitable step for me. But this is really more a free time project that I do simply for the joy of painting.
There are a lot of little stories in different process stages waiting to become book dummies in my sketchbooks. But writing is a bit of a challenge for me, especially in English. So they will need a bit more time, before I will send them out.
Since I get frequently asked about my illustration process I’m planning to do some video demos and tutorials. I’m still working on refining my skills. But I think it is important to pass the things you have learned so far to younger artists. Maybe this will help and/or inspire a few of them to do their own art.
OCB: Is there some aspect of creating or experiencing art that you think people might not always understand?
RAMONA: I think many people underestimate the amount of practice that it takes to become good at art. Talent is really just a very small part of it.
I compare art more with some sort of sport. You have to train constantly for years to become good. It is very important to not get frustrated during the process of learning.
Keep drawing and don’t forget to have fun.
Don’t be afraid to do something wrong. It is okay to do bad drawings. You don’t have to show them to somebody. But, as I said before, I’m still learning myself. And that is the beauty of art. You can get better your whole life. There is no limit.
Be sure to explore more of Ramona’s wonderful illustrations on her website, as well as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Behance, and her fine art as well. If you’re interested in procuring one of her prints for yourself, check out her Etsy shop.