Interview with LEA HEINRICH

9Jul2014

 

An early participant in EN MASSE, it’s been a while since German illustrator/printmaker/comic artist Lea Heinrich has jammed with us, bringing her bold, simple, highly graphic style and subtle, poignant sensibility to the table. An upcoming opportunity in Europe may soon set that right, but in the meantime, here are Lea’s thoughts on this, that and the other thing.

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Where are you from and where are you now?

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last years. In 2009 I visited Montréal for the first time where friends of mine offered me a free residence in their laundry room. It was the tiniest space, shared with two gigantic machines and a hairball-puking cat named Malice. Still, it was one of the best times of my life. Having no real place to work or hang out at, I searched the city for cafés and parks to sit down and draw or write. That way I met a lot of people and got in touch with the En Masse collective for the first time. In the following years, I had many different homes. I lived in a wooden shack in the forest in upstate New York. Experienced some gangster Hamptons Beach House living and then found a home in Brooklyn, NYC. I moved back to my motherland about half a year ago and now for the first time I am living in East Germany. It is interesting to me how 25 years after the reunification, there is still a notable difference in the peoples’ mentality. When i was a kid, my family used to cross the border from West to East to visit our relatives. I remember how our car got checked for smuggled goods at the control points, that was always a little scary. After 1989 our visits became rare events. Typical, you have the urge to go where you can’t but when it becomes easier to go, you lose interest. I’m happy to be here for now but i don’t think that this is the end of my journey.

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What do you do? How do you describe your art practice?

I draw. Often I let myself be inspired by my new location. Add a character and see what story unfolds.

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When did your practice as an artist begin?

My career as a commercial artist began in fifth grade, the day me and my best friend, Joana, found fifty bucks in a toilet stall at Mc Donalds. We bought an Ice-T record, some candy and a Playboy mag, which became a reference guide for the hand-drawn pin-ups we sold to all the boys at school.

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Comics are an important part of your practice. What can you tell us about comics and your work with that medium?

There is a lot going on in the comic scene right now. I didn’t grow up reading comics so to me it is still sort of a new medium. I like the challenge of telling a story with my art.

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What is your proudest accomplishment as an artist?

Any project I put to realization and whatever I’m working on makes me happy in the moment of accomplishment. Earlier this year, I made a little comic book named Hearsay – from the City of Tiny Lights. It’s about my neighbourhood and the characters I’ve been meeting in the streets of Brooklyn. This was definitely my favourite thing to develop so far and I enjoyed coming up with all the anecdotes and recalling the dense city scenes. The response that I’ve been getting is really great, people compliment me on my depiction of NYC.

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What improvement, alteration or innovation would you most like to see in the arts?

I wish it was possible to make a living from drawing comic books.

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What are your thoughts on artistic collaboration? Are there any rules or strategies that you follow?

Collaborating is crucial to get out of your routine and allow unpredictable outcomes. Me and Ad Deville of Skewville actually just started an experiment, were we mix his collage art with my drawings and story-telling. The project is called “Five Finger Discount” and i think our styles are going to work quiet well together. Who knows…

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Stay tuned regarding Lea’s latest travels and travails by way of her website.

www.leaheinrich.com

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