Thoka Maer is a freelance illustrator and animator from Berlin. I came across Thoka’s work a while back on Booooooom. Instantly I fell in love with her whimsical, and often humorous animations. Thoka is a multi-talented artist, working in many styles and media. Her illustrations are equally wonderful and intriguing: often a collage of visuals, textures and shapes, creating an image with an abstract textural quality that is stupendous.
Q1. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m 166cm high, 54kg heavy, held together by skin, decorated with hair, and usually framed in the city known as Berlin. I have a mood scale ranging from grumpy to extremely happy, that is strongly correlated to sleep and success in my daily work. The residual 15-16 hours are usually spent on the following, in order of importance: drawing, eating, reading, and being sociable.
Q2. How do you approach starting a new project? What is most important to you when working on a project/illustration/animation?
It depends on the nature of the project. If it’s a personal project, I come up with ideas best when I’m not straining for them. Like under the shower for example. As my ideas for personal projects emerge somewhere from my subconscious, I try to foster this subconscious artist-me by feeding it with information and by avoiding evil distractions. To describe this a bit more vividly, it’s like a big wobbly bubble filled with ‘idea-liquid’, always on the verge of bursting, yet remaining intact because of its über-elastic membrane. This membrane is semi-permeable too. In addition to the natural creative soup it stores, it absorbs inspiration and information. Every now and then, the bubble gets poked and some of the liquid slowly drips out, before the hole swiftly closes itself again. And then I start to work with what came out.
In terms of commissioned projects, I first decipher the guidelines of the client and off I go. I usually develop ideas quite easily there, particularly under restricted circumstances. A quality I inherited from my father: creative problem solver.
Q3. We love your looping animations, what is it about animating that you love so much?
Firstly, I am, like many artists I suppose, rather numb to my own work after it is finished. But for some reason, my animations escape this fate. They make me laugh even more after completion. Secondly, I love them for being so universal, so easily understood. Since they come without words, everyone interprets them for themselves. Neither of these were ever intended since they always were and are a pastime for me. But ultimately, they make sense, so I guess that’s why they turned out the way they are.
Q4. What’s the role of the sketch book in your creative process?
It has a role of no further importance. My sketchbook mainly contains written words. Pretty boring to look at.
Q5. Weapon of choice?
If it’s analogue I clearly choose pencil. Digitally, I mainly work with Photoshop and After Effects. Everything I use is quite classic, but it fulfills my purposes the best.
Q6. What’s your all-time favourite procrastination pastime?
Easy one: cooking, followed promptly by eating. Pretty recently, I got my piano back and so I’m now spending quite some time with it as well.
Q7. What are some things you do for inspiration? Do you have any specific rituals, sources or habits that help inspire you?
Exhibitions always drive me to draw and develop ideas, but I wouldn’t consider going to exhibition call as ritual. Most of my inspiration I derive from my considerably normal every day life.
Q8. What are five things you couldn’t live without?
Oxygen – water – food – the complexity of existence (I suppose) – drawing.
A HUGE thank you to Thoka for taking the time to do this interview.
Be sure to stop by Thoka’s site!
All images ©2013 Thoka Maer