About adventures, travels, pen and paper – the author and illustrator Sarah Neuendorf alias Gretas Schwester

A Matona Interview
Sarah Neuendorf is known by many as „Gretas Schwester”. The author and illustrator from Berlin, is famous for her wonderful illustrations that evoke wanderlust and the longing for undiscovered countries and adventures. The same applies to her watercolor illustration for our limited Art Edition. In addition we had the honor to talk with her about her work and life:

1. Did you always expect to be working in the job that you’re doing now? 

Pen and paper have always been my best friends. With their help I could build entire worlds, experience dreams and invent whole cities. For a long time I did not know how to turn this passion into a profession and therefore for a while I was thinking about becoming a doctor or marine biologist. However, my grades weren’t good enough to start studying medicine. And somehow I knew deep within me, that only a creative work can fulfill me. So right after school I started studying graphic design and quickly focused on illustration.

2. Where are you (and your family) living?

I am living with my husband and our two children in an apartment in Berlin Schöneberg.

3. What inspires you the most and why?

My kids, movies, books, music, nature, traveling and colors are my biggest inspiration. I try to convey moods, situations and feelings into my illustrations.

4. Where do you find peace and time for yourself?

I get my breaks in my studio when I am working. My “me-time” takes place at my desk 😉

5. How has your work changed since you have kids?

My husband and I are sharing the child care. We both work less, but more intense, since we got kids. The time available is better used, when you have less of it available. To get into creative processes, writing mails or sending pictures is almost impossible when the kids are around is almost impossible. Although our two kids can amuse themselves for a while, working with them around often results in stress.

6. Do you have a daily work routine? How does it look like?

Most of the time I take the kids to the daycare and then I drive to my studio. Once I arrive I brew myself a jasmin tea, work on my emails and start to design and paint. There are days when I almost drown in organisational work, on other days I have a lot of time to swing my brush. In the afternoon I am at home with my kids. However, if there is a lot of work and I am really busy, I return to my computer and work a little bit more.

7. How is your work inspired and influenced by nature and your environment?

Being outdoors and on the road is an important part of my work. Especially during the lockdown I noticed, who much I need this for my creative process – to get out and break free from the routine. If I do not have this possibility I am feeling blocked and I have to find other ways and means to evoke new pictures in my head.

3. Do you think community is important to creativity? If so, how? 

In general, being creative works really good in a community. New ideas, and impulses can easily arise when interacting with others. However, my main work takes place at my desk in a relaxed atmosphere. There I can paint for hours without being interrupted.

Thank you for this interesting interview!

If you want to see and hear more from Sarah, then go and visit her Instagram Profile @gretasschwester, or visit her website gretasschwester.com.