May 21st 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 12: Silence! Strangely quiet almost!
There is this important distinction between being alone and being lonely. Right now I’m alone. Keeping an eye on the buildings, looking out of the window, working on my new book.
What else has happened Not much. The neighbour’s cat came for a visit. I once got completely soaked in rain on my morning walk. I mowed the lawn which felt oddly satisfying. I miss certain people and I am glad for that. That's the flip side of love and it’s worth it.
I still remember my father’s 40th birthday. I was 16 years old at the time. Now my age begins with the number four. The biggest problem I have with that is the even number. Because I like odd numbers. Even numbers give me the creeps. The funny thing about aging is that I actually feel exactly the same as I always have. Nevertheless, I am very happy that I no longer have to deal with as many doubts today as I did when I was twenty. I wouldn’t want to go back – that’s for sure.
What else has happened Snow is quite normal in Finnish May. Last week it was snowing, hailing and sunburning. The lilac usually blooms on my birthday, but here it needs at least another four weeks. Nevertheless there are already squirrel babies and bird’s nest kindergartens. ♥︎ I learned how to make a campfire with a lot of wind. My friend said, »Work with the wind, not against it.« After I burned at least 15 matches, he lit the fire with a single one. Very impressive! ♥︎ The last corona-stranded artist has left the artist residence. It has been very silent here ever since.
I have realised that the Finnish flag can only be blue and white. Any other colour in the flag would not make any sense. Finland is the land of the bluest blues – the most amazing shades of blue I have ever seen. I grew up in a region that is famous for the production of indigo blue - using dyer’s woad in the middle ages. I remember the white and blue china of my grandma on which we ate Sunday cake. I remember my first pair of blue jeans, which my parents had specially tailored by a Vietnamese seamstress because there were no jeans for children to buy. They were so stiff that I could hardly walk in them.
What else has happened A Finnish fire is usually lit with sampo matches. Sampo is a Finnish match brand that is almost 80 years old. The name is based on the epic Finnish poem Kalevala, in which – among other things happening – the magic mill Sampu produces flour, salt and gold. The brand was redesigned in 2018. Now illustrations with a touch of Art Nouveau are the visual anchor of the brand. Everytime I see a new design, I have to buy it. They are so beautiful. ♥︎ In the coming days the last three stranded artists will leave the artist residence and travel home. Corona has changed everything. From now on everyday will be a silent day* (*normally, there are silent days during the program when there is no speaking).
May 1st 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 9 : A lake, a forest, a campfire, some Hasenbrot
There is something magical about the finnish forest. The Finnish soul has always been considered closely connected with the forest. This may be due to the fact that three quarters of Finland is covered with trees, but it may also have something to do with the peculiar beauty of Finnish forests. Because Finns like to spend time in the forest, it is often possible to spend the night in open cabins or light a campfire there. Actually you don’t need much more to feel at ease. Maybe still freshly brewed Coffee, a warm woolen blanket and some veggie grilli makkaras. And in some weeks: Anti Brumm.
What else has happened When I was a kid, my parents sometimes brought home sandwiches that they had taken along to a trip but not eaten. Since these sandwiches might have seen a rabbit (!!) during the day (yes, not a deer or a hedgehog, a rabbit!!), they were called »Hasenbrote (bunny sandwiches)«. In the garden of Arteles lives a huge family of rabbits. So I have been having lots of Hasenbrote lately. ♥︎ Masks are currently not available in Finland. Coffee filters are supposed to be a good alternative (as a filter element in self-made masks, I know). With my Hario filters I feel like a blackbird. I want to fly off, sit on the highest roof ridge and proclaim loudly that the sun is rising and spring is coming.
April 24th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 8 : Greetings from the land with the pinkest clouds and the bluest sky
Things I have observed in the last week: a few cranes dancing in the fields (their singing sounds like Jurassic Park), a curlew (in Finnish: isokuovi) with its long curved beak and spotted feathers, a flock of greylag geese (in Finnish: Merihanhi) ruffling the pink clouds of the evening sky, a fluffy fox sniffing around the house at night almost looking like a wolf, singing swans on the lake, two wagtails, frogspawn (there will be a lot of frogs in summer, a lot!!) and some finnish land mice.
What else has happened Julie, one of my fellow artists, saw three wolves wondering around in our forest. Our neighboor’s dogs barked like crazy during that night, they almost seemed croaky the next day. In Finland wolves have to struggle with the same problems as in other countries: the story with Little Red Riding Hood, sheep, hunters, human projections of fear ...There is a great documentary about wolves in Finnland, directed by Juha Suonpää. ♥︎ Also here the fear of Covid-19 grows and makes people crazy. Supposedly heat destroys the virus. So that means more sauna!
April 17th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 7 : April weather
In the morning a well-rested winter welcomes the day with heaps of snow and a blue vail of light. Around noon he gets tired. Then spring sneaks up from behind and surprises him with cyan blue skies and sunrays that cut through the snow like laser swords. In the evening the woollen blanket of snow has vanished and small flowers take deep breaths of chrystal clear air – preparing to explode. As the sun slowly sets, the blackbirds praise the glorious deeds of Spring. Feeling quite proud of herself, Spring therefore celebrates through the night and oversleeps the next day. Winter on the other hand feels well rested in the morning (because he went to bed quite early – after watching »Game of Thrones« on Netflix). And everything starts all over again.
What else has happened It's really been like that for at least five days. Snow in the morning. Green meadows in the evening. ♥︎ On Easter Sunday, finnish kids dress up as witches. With a collection of willow branches decorated with ribbons and feathers, they knock on the doors of their neighbours and offer them a branch together with a spell. Finnish author Juha Vuorinen translated it like this: „Willow switch, I’m the Easter witch! I wish you health and a love that’s rich! From me I bring some luck today, for this branch what will you pay?« (Virvon varvon tuoreeks, terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks, vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!) The commonly accepted currency is candy. ♥︎ I have to admit that I’m letting myself go a bit with these ugly plastic shoes. In Finland you always take your shoes off when you come into the house. So even though they are ugly as hell they are super practical. And at least they’re pink. ♥︎ Stay safe! With love, F.
April 9th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 6 : Hello spring!
The pines glow golden, the ice shines blue. In the lee of the trees I can feel the sun on my skin. It reminds me of the sun-warmed fur of a cat, in which grains of dust glitter, of pine needles pricking my feet, of bumblebees humming from bush to bush. Today, right now, right here, I am happy.
What else has happened Have you seen the pink supermoon? Here it was neither super-large nor super-pink. Still it was rather beautiful. ♥︎ One of my fellow-artists photographs the view outside her window every day. Take a look. ♥︎ Is anyone interested in presenting their portfolio in my book (a textbook on how to design a portfolio as an artist)? If so, please send me an email.
April 3rd 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 5 : Under the thawing ice a storm rumbles ...
During the last week it was quiet and almost peaceful. Everyone here at Arteles has tried to continue their daily lives as best they could. Walking through the forest it is difficult to see the crisis caused by Corona. Nevertheless I feel the stress in my body when I breathe in and out. Deep below the surface lurks a tension that rumbles in my stomach. It is the feeling of a hailstorm that is hurtling down my back. It is feet that feel hollow, as if they have no contact with the ground. And yet there is sunshine on my skin. There is the red, fluffy, bouncing ball in the snow that is the neighbour’s cat. There is the springlike wind that tenderly blows winter away. There is beauty in the now.
What else has happened For the first time in my life I saw the northern lights. They looked like a big greenish cotton candy hanging around in the woods. ♥︎ My sauna hat was a success even though it does not look like a lynx (as it was supposed to look), but more like a kangaroo. That’s ok. Things often turn out differently, but that does not make them any less good. ♥︎ We had our first ballet class here at Arteles. With only 4.5 years of training, I am still an absolute beginner in classical ballet. But it has made me happy to give an introduction to some very fine artists who still have a childlike joy in them. My inner child loves ballet. It is my happy place, because it is the only place where I can get out of my head. It is physically very demanding. But just because I have to concentrate so hard to sort out my octopus legs and arms, I find peace of mind. ♥︎ Stay safe and at home.
March 27th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 4 : The calm in between storms
Today it smells like spring outside. The cars on the street are buzzing like bees towards the city. I have no idea what they’re up to, because of the shutdown, there’s not much to do there. In the last week our group has become smaller and smaller every day. Today there are only three artists left in the residence. All others are gone because of Corona. The residency program for April has been cancelled. May is at stake. I try not to think so much about what might happen and how it will turn out, but to concentrate on what is now: wet forest soil, whooper swans on the lake, a book that wants to be written.
What else has happened I started making a sauna hat. It feels good to practice a craft and not have to think so much. The wool is patient and fluffy. I have stacked wafer-thin layers of wool. The wet felting gives the softness structure, strength and stability. This is good for making a hat. However, right now I enjoy being in this cloud of wafer-thin wool, not knowing what happens next, and letting go of the rigidity and strictness. In a way, I like that. ♥︎ On my walk to the lake I met two singing swans. I wanted to feel how thick the ice still was and broke in. Fortunatly a friend already told me how to behave when breaking into the ice. Move like a dolphin, up and down, up and down, to push yourself over the edge, he told me. That’s good advise.
March 19th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 3 : A new challenge for everyone
I pictured the apocalypse like this: with a gloomy sky and thunder roaring to the core. With brute force and open conflict. Maybe a zombie attack. Now the whole world is holding its breath while washing its hands. In a very short time everything has changed. Yet everything remains the same. Nature doesn’t mind what these crazy humans are worrying about. The thawing lake stretches under its icy blanket and blows funny fountains. As the sunlight returns, the trees grow small buds that soon explode into leaves. The magpies collect love gifts for their chosen ones. It is as it is. There is certainty in uncertainty.
What else has happened A large part of the artists here at Arteles have returned to their home countries because people want to go home in times of fear. In scientific experiments, rats that are exposed to high levels of distress return to their rat homes, even if they do not feel safe there either. So the need for home seems to be a primal instinct inherent in all living things. ♥︎ Even though we are a smaller group now, we are still trying to continue with the residence life as planned. Yesterday we went for a hike in the Ritajärvy nature reserve. In the thicket of trees it was easier to be in the here and now. ♥︎ One of my artist colleagues taught me how to felt wool. I’m gonna frisk a sauna hat. In times of need, it’s good to keep a cool head. ♥︎ Please stay safe and at home!
March 12th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
Week 2 : A new setting
The air is crisp and sometimes feels like glass. Every other day some snow decides to fall out of the sky and steals away quietly as soon it has had a brief glimpse of the human world. Nature seems to be preparing for spring and birds spread their wings and take to the sky. By dusk they discuss what should be done. Their shoulds follow me at every turn. An old companion keeps me company. Together we stare out of the window and wonder what comes next.
What else has happened My car broke down. The exhaust pipe fell off. A friend suggested to call her Rust-inante instead of Rocinante (a name I gave her since she is a 20-year-old work horse of a car). ♥︎ We’ve had Sunday brunch at Frantsilla, an vegetarian café in Hämeenkyrö. I like the name Frantsilla. Sounds like Franziska, only with less of those hard German zzz-sounds. ♥︎ Somehow it feels very strange to watch the Corona-News and what’s happening at home while I sit here in my warm little country home behind the seven mountains. Please take good care of yourselves.
March 6th 2020 ♥︎ Haukijärvi, Finland
The great adventure begins ...
On February 27th it started: my Hamburg apartment cancelled, my studio in storage, car bought, my favorite pillow, drawing materials and iPad packed. On to the ferry, which brought the fully packed car via Travemünde to Helsinki. From there it took another three hours and finally we are here: in Haukijärvi, where I will work and live for the next couple of months.
Side note My new home is Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland, an International residency located in the middle of the extraordinary nature of Hämeenkyrö, far from city life distractions. ♥︎ The last few years have been like a roller coaster ride. A lot of good things have happened and there have been some sad things too. It feels to me like it’s time for a break. Letting things go, welcoming new things. On to new adventures.
December 2019 ♥︎ Tampere, Finland
Dear business partners, dear friends and colleagues!
With best regards from Finland I wish you a relaxing and wonderful time between the years and a good start into the coming year 2020. An exciting year is coming to an end and I am grateful for the many great projects we have created and set in motion together. I would like to thank you for the inspiring and constructive cooperation and the trust you have placed in me.
Many great things have happened in 2019, here’s a short summary:
The new corporate design for the University of Erfurt was launched in October 2019, after we had started the process in December 2018 with the first workshop. Remarkably effective and at ease, we mastered this mammoth task together. As the responsible art director and contractual partner, I have been responsible for the development of design. I brought Anka Suckow on board for the brand development and the mediation of the process. I am very grateful for the courage and the team spirit we’ve experienced at the University of Erfurt and I am very happy about the innovative result.
February 2019 I’ve spent as Artist in Residence in Haukijärvi in Finland. The Arteles Creative Center is located in the middle of Finnish forests, 40 kilometers from Tampere. It is one of the most international residencies in Scandinavia. There I’ve worked on my new graphic novel and drew a silent comic which you can read below.
Back again, being the president of the illustrators’ organisation I had the pleasure of welcoming Andreas Platthaus, the German comic journalist, as honorary member of the IO. This was a great honour. You can see how honoured I feel in the photo ;-)
The fulfilment of a childhood dream of mine has been a three-week sailing trip in July 2019, which I was able to attend as a travel illustrator. At around 0 degrees we tried to sail around Spitsbergen on the Dutch barkentine Antigua. Because of pack ice it didn’t work out, but we saw many polar bears and collected lots of plastic from the arctic beaches. More about this soon on www.gezeichnete-reportagen.de
Also very nice indeed - the success of the kunstanstifter books »Julia Dürr and Astrid Walenta: Madame Fafü« and »Iris Anemone Paul: Polka für Igor«, for which I am responsible for the book design. The latter was even awarded the German Youth Literature Prize twice in 2019.
And as a final bang for the buck, in October 2019, after nine years, I was finally able to successfully complete my doctorate on the subject of image authorship in literary book illustration. The work is now published on the OPUS Open Access Server of the Bauhaus University Weimar and can be downloaded here free of charge. A shorter English version is available here.
A lot has happened. Fast was the year. Now I’m sitting in the snowy Finnish town of Tampere eating gingerbread, drinking coffee and feeling great gratitude for the past year. I am very excited about the new year and the many adventures that await us in 2020. And I am very happy to go this way with you.
With that I send you my love and very warm greetings, Franziska
April 22nd 2019 ♥︎ Hamburg
Who would I be? ... #latergram
February 2019 ♥︎ Arteles, Haukijärvi, Finland
The Random Collection of Silence
I spent February 2019 at Arteles Creative Center as an Artist in Residence. What a wonderful and very special experience ... I did a lot of walking through the forest and on the frozen lake and spent many hours just with myself, alone but not lonely.
Arteles was a real game-changer for me. Being back in the big city I feel like being stuck in a jumper which has become too small. I am very grateful for this momentum and how the experience at Arteles has effected me! Many thanks to the founders and the people who keep that place alive! I tried to capture the experience with the silent comic strip »A Random Collection of Silence«. Can you feel the silence?
Side note Arteles Creative Center in Hämeenkyrö, Finland, is the lively headquarters for an International residency program, welcoming artists and creative minds from all around the world, from all the defined and undefined forms of creativity. The center is located in the middle of the extraordinary nature of Hämeenkyrö, far from city life distractions. The current call for entries »Enter Text« is an international residency program for writers, researchers and artists working with text. ♥︎ February should be one of the coldest months of the year in Haukijärvi, but this year has been unexpectedly mild. The temperature was jumping up and down, like a yoyo ... on my last week there, the temperature was continuously above zero and the frozen lake started to melt. This unexpected short winter following the heat wave Northern Europe was facing last Summer made me wonder ... how long will there be a real winter ... climate change is real ...
January 29th 2019 ♥︎ Hamburg
I am off to some soul-searching!
No internet. No telephone. No buzzing. No fussing. In return: Silence. Awareness. The soft rustle of fresh snow.
Working on a book project about inner peace and gratitude I am very much looking forward to spend the next couple of weeks undergoing an experiment: For that I am going to explore various strategies people use to find inner peace. First stop: Solitude.
I am very curious what I am going to find if the inner voice doesn’t have to shout anymore to drown out the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Let’s get lost to discover new things by taking a look inside.
January 11th 2019 ♥︎ Tampere, Finland
A short travel note: Found a personal heroine!
Once you are travelling through Finland, it won’t be long before you are going to meet the Mumins. As soon as you are going to be invited into a Finnish home – for a cup of coffee for instance – you will meet the little kobolds – as decor of your coffee mug. These mugs are part of almost every Finnish household and very popular.
The Mumins have been created by Tove Jansson, a Finnish female writer, painter and illustrator. The only Museum in the world dedicated to the Mumins is in Tampere. Here I came across an old photograph of Tove Jansson which touched me instantly, made me stop, made me pause. It shows her as an adventurous, strong and curious woman on the island Klovharu which had been her summer home for many years. I’ve felt an urgent longing for a place like that, for a home of my own – with nature, with serenity.
The first Mumins book was published in 1945 but failed economicly. Tove Jansson has written over 20 Mumins books overall. | You can find more information about Tove Jansson here.
Finland is a country with a specific and very unique design culture. And you notice this often in the details of everyday living, for instance with dishes and dinnerware. The Mumins coffee mugs are manufactured in Helsinki by the Finnish porcelain manufactory Arabia. The second Finish world known porcelain brand is Iittala which today still produces Alvar Aalto designs as well as many others.
January 1st 2019 ♥︎ Tampere, Finland
Happy new Year! Greetings from Finland!
The lake Pyhäjärvi is thoroughly frozen in Finnish Winter time so it’s possible to walk on the ice. The first steps on the ice felt a little strange for me, somehow I immediately had to think about what my granny told me as a kid: »If you breake into the ice, you’ll die in an instant.« Didn’t happen ;-) The children here did a lot of ice skating, some people went for ice fishing, others made a hole into the ice and took a deep dive after sauna. Vive la vie!
October 25th 2018 ♥︎ Hamburg Germany
Can you draw? Workshop at Jung von Matt
Do you know that voice in your head that is telling you that you cannot draw? If so, you are not alone. Most people know that voice, most of us develope somehow – probably during school days – a believe that drawing is not for us, that we cannot draw.
That’s unfortunate consindering that sketching and scribbling is one of the areas in life where you can’t go wrong. In drawing everything is possible, anything goes. And also sketching can be a highly effective problem-solving tool for you because sketching helps us to understand and think problems through, so we can find new, innovative solutions and ideas. I like to help people to overcome that believe system that drawings have to be pretty and technically well made to be effective. And that’s what we did together at Jung von Matt Hamburg. Many thanks to Kyra Braatz and Heike Lorentz for making it happen.
Interested in a workshop which enables you to translate your ideas on paper? Take a look here.
August 5th 2018 ♥︎ Spitzbergen Svalbard
Till the end of the world ...
After coming back from the Arctic I am filled with a longing for the wild. Svalbard is such a special place – beautiful and wild ... but sometimes life has its own sense of humor: I've met two shy and nosy polar bears. They were hanging out behind the hill and were snooping on the ship I was on ... bewildered by these strange and clumsy creatures on the boat who were frantically taking pictures of them ... #fuckingtourists
Spitzbergen is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. And it is beautiful – in its own way. Rough, sparse, without any trees or bushes but vast and at the end of the world, I’ve felt so free.
July 18th 2018 ♥︎ Travelling
A short travel note on my way to the South
As my train descends to the south and passes through vast fields of grain, swallows spread their wings and take to the sky – there ain’t nothing that can harm you! And yet as time flies I feel sad and happy at the same time ...
I am spending the Summer in Weimar, meet me there. I probably will be at Luka and Steffi’s house because they make the best Sunday pancakes ... even if the pancakes probably beg to differ ...
June 26th 2018 ♥︎ Hamburg Germany
As a kid I spent my summer vacations in the countryside, visiting my grand parents in Mecklenburg. Since my granny was working during the day I would spent these days with my gradpa who would be sitting in the garden swing – silently watching the sky (he was a very quiet man) – and I would be playing in a jungle garden made of raspberry bushes, red and black currants and dahlias – together with the chickens and numerous dogs my granny owned. I am grateful for that memory. Thanks, Grandpa! I think of you today!
I loved that my grand parents owned so many dogs. Sometimes they had up to 7, sometimes 9 dogs in the house since my granny was a professional dog breeder. Shetland Sheepdogs to be precise. They looked like Lassie only smaller. Here I am – with Olli (my favorite, the cutie on the ground) and Hella – waiting in the courtyard.
December 13th 2017 ♥︎ Shanghai China
With Goethe-Institut I’ve travelled through China from December 2nd till December 13th. Book reading and comic-workshop in Guangzhou, book reading and exhibit opening in Beijing, some traveling alone to Shanghai. It was a great adventure. Thanks to all the nice people I’ve had the pleasure to meet! On my last day in Shanghai I’ve met my old friend Rolf ... we worked together and were flat-mates in Shanghai 15 years ago.
At the age of 24 I’ve lived and worked for almost one year in Shanghai – designing buildings and cities at the architectural office Swissleman (today: Lemanarc) where Rolf and I were first only workmates and later good friends. | The drawing on the left did one of the fabulous Chinese Comic Artists who joined my workshop. Thanks again! And: Guess who I am in the drawing?
November 1st 2018 ♥︎ Hamburg Germany
See you in China!
For many years I’ve dreamt about being an author, touching the hearts of readers and changing the world through drawn and written stories. It may sound a little naive but I also imagined it as travelling the world and being invited to exotic and faraway places. In less than one week I am going leave Hamburg to start a reading tour in China. And to be honest – I imagined it differently: more fireworks! And above all I imagined that I would feel different: more grounded, wiser, happier, leading a different life … Change did come, but in other ways than I expected, life goes on, but the way I see and treat myself hasn’t changed much: For the last couple of weeks – to be truthful – I’ve worried a lot: Will I be good enough? What if I fail? What if I get lost? My worries took up a lot of space … so much that I almost forgot to realize that my dream actually came true. … Yup, expectation tends to kill the joy of the moment. Let’s choose experiences over expectations and joyful curiosity over effort. See you in China.
Meet me here: 5th of December 2017 Sharing session in Guangzhou | 6th of December 2017 Comic-Workshop in Guangzhou | 7th of December 2017 Book reading and vernissage in Beijing