Long ears, two small horns, large eyes, and a crooked grin. The little monster which appears in many of my pictures is the embodiment of the childish mischief maker in me. And that’s the element that turns my minimalist pictures into a story. In the middle of a box filled with strawberries a single one is missing, and the monster sits next to it, its mouth covered in red. I didn’t do it.
One day my son Anton asked me whether it would be possible to skate on an ice cube. I’m sure it is, as long as either the ice cube is very big, or you are very small, was my answer for him. And while I was still speaking, a picture took form in my head of a small, simple figure, standing on top of an ice cube with ice skates on. However, the execution of this idea did end up being quite unnerving. While I was still taking the photo, the ice cubes melted, my pen’s color ran, and the paper buckled because of the moisture. I am used to exactly placing objects, experimenting and being in control, and now it turned into a race against time. In the end everything worked out, it seems to be possible to skate on an ice cube – but I also know that I will never again take a photo with such an object.
I think I’d rather stick to toy cars, spider plants, jasmine blossoms, or raisin bread. They are patient with me, they keep still and allow themselves to be rearranged until I am satisfied with the result.
The little monster is picking out all the raisins from the bread (and looks guilty while doing it) – our relationship to anything edible is something really special. If my daughter has been baking chocolate cake, the little monster runs up the fork onto the plate. It comes running, holding a spoon, to get its share of the homemade banana ice cream, it has secretly helped itself from the Nutella glass, it actually goes and gets hold of a little ladder to reach the last cherry, and feeds on wild strawberries from my garden with its monster mouth wide open. As soon as there is something to snack on, the little monster always likes to be at the forefront of things.
I am a teacher and not an illustrator. Although I know that I can’t really draw, I still do it, and enjoy pushing against the boundaries of my drawing skills again and again in my work with the little monster. In my mind I have a clear picture of a flying monster like Superman: one arm is stretched out in front, a cape flapping on its back. Perspective, side view and proportions – how on earth can I transfer that to a simple stick figure drawing which only consists of a circle and four lines for arms and legs? The same goes for the facial expressions: What does your face look like standing under a cold shower, or while having to pull something really heavy, or when you’re awed standing in front of a giant horse?
I am forever practicing, often I need more than one try before I am satisfied, and, almost incidentally, the small creatures changes as I expand my options and skills. Sometimes it has horns, sometimes hair, sometimes it is alone, and sometimes there are seven of them. And sometimes, I have the impression that with time a proper individual character is forming, always slightly different, but still always little monster.