Saskia Keultjes is an illustrator from Germany. She’s living and working in Berlin at least for now, as she’ll move to New York soon. We meet Saskia at Katies Blue Cat in Neukölln, a cozy little Café, that she picked out for us. When she came to Berlin two years ago, she used to spend a lot of time here, as she tells us. Her drawings and small stories immediately captured our hearts, just like her humorous character.
Her works are unfolding in her sketchbook, as well as online, where she maintains a large network. Her style is amongst others inspired by comics while she breathes life into her characters, creating animated GIFs. Her effortless approach inspired us and we’re glad to be able to introduce her to this talent in the following ‘Places’ Feature.
When and why did you come to Berlin?
In the beginning, I came here because of love. But after some time I started to fall in love with the city, and felt like this was a good place to meet new people and continue with my art. That was two years ago and I had just decided that I wanted to turn illustration into my actual job. I was taking a drawing class at that time and my amazing teacher introduced me to so many things like GIFs and other little comic strips.
Was that how you got into illustrations and drawing?
No, actually that was more of a re-discovery. I always liked to draw and paint as a kid, but when these typical art courses in school started I didn’t feel very understood and got bad grades because I had my own style, so it just lost the fun of it. That hurt because I put so much heart into it, but I found other creative outlets in writing and theatre. But when I started with drawing classes, I remembered how much I used to like it and my teachers understood and encouraged me.
How would you describe your style?
Simple, full of ideas, sometimes a little raw and very spontaneous. Spontaneity is really important to me, working too long on one thing sometimes distorts the original idea or spirit. I like to draw very fast and a lot at once.
So your sketchbook is your most important tool?
Yes, I would say that’s true. It’s a really free and creative place for me, I can just scribble, rip pages out, stick something else in. I can just draw while watching TV or while I make dinner with friends to remember some fun little situation, like this tutorial on how to roll your burritos. I also have a little trick: just leave some pages empty between drawing, so it’s not too organized and you won’t hesitate to just start scribbling.
What do you like about being an illustrator?
The spontaneity. Most of all: it’s very important to me that I am able to create something, and I also want to include my writing and photography here too. If someone would give me an instrument I’d much rather write my own songs than playing anyone else’s.
Where do you find your inspiration?
A lot of it comes from reflecting on my day questioning what I do with my time. Sometimes you notice these little dumb things or quirks that make the best material. I also try to keep up with what happens in the world and I try to have the ideas to come from my heart, but give the viewers a chance to connect with them. And whenever I feel like I am out of ideas I just spent some time outside. Nature is the best inspiration.
What is a usual day in you life like?
I don’t really have a fixed schedule everyday, but I usually get up and start working on content for my collaboration with the app TwoDots. Then I like to go for a walk or to an exhibition and if something fun happens I’ll go home and draw it. Or sometimes I don’t draw at all and just spent time at home, eat with friends and I just started to play the piano.
Why did you choose Katies Blue Cat to meet us?
I used to spend a lot of time here when I moved to Berlin two years ago. The atmosphere fits me, it’s calm and they do have really good coffee. I also had some nice encounters with other people here. One time a little boy came up to me, I think he thought it was weird for an adult to draw in public. So he looked at my sketchbook and said: “I like what you make! I also like to draw, but sometimes I just don’t know what to draw!” And I told him that I had the same problem from time to time. Oh, and the cheesecake here is amazing.
What do you like about Berlin?
People in Berlin don’t care about what you are wearing and you can just be yourself, which was very different in my hometown. Nice architecture and a lot of green places like the canal and lots of peace. But there is still a lot happening here, you don’t have to go to any other place to go to a concert or an exhibition.