Interview with Gretas Schwester

About adventure, travel, pen and paper - author and illustrator Sarah Neuendorf aka Gretas Schwester

Sarah Neuendorf is well-known to many as "Gretas Schwester". The author and illustrator from Berlin is known for her wonderful illustrations that awaken longing and wanderlust for undiscovered countries and adventures. So is her watercolor illustration for our limited Arts Edition. In addition, we were allowed to interview her about her work and her life:

A Matona Interview

1. Did you always have the idea that you would do what you do now?

Pen and paper have almost always been my best friends. With them I could build worlds, experience dreams and invent entire cities. For a long time, I didn't know exactly how I could turn this passion into a profession, so I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor or marine biologist. However, my high school diploma was not enough for at least a medical degree. And somehow I knew deep inside me that in the end only creative work would fulfill me completely. So after school I studied graphic design and quickly put my focus on illustrations.

2. Where do you live (with your family)?

I live with my husband and our two kids in an apartment in Berlin Schöneberg.

3. What inspires you the most and why?

My children, movies, books, music, nature, travel and colors are my biggest inspiration. I try to pack moods, situations and feelings into my illustrations.

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

I have my breaks in the studio when I work. Me Time takes place at the desk :-)

5. How has your work changed since having children?

I share the childcare with my husband. We both work less since having children, but also more intensively. Time is simply better used when you have less of it available. It's almost impossible to get involved in creative processes when the kids are around, just like writing an e-mail or quickly editing a picture. No matter how well they can occupy themselves, working with them often turns into stress.

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

I usually take the kids to daycare and then go to the studio. There I brew myself a jasmine tea, work on emails and then start designing or painting. There are days when I get bogged down in organizing, on others I have plenty of time to swing my paintbrush. I spend the afternoon with the kids. In particularly busy and stressful phases, I sit down at the laptop again in the evening.

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

Being outside and on the road is an important part of my work. Especially during the lockdown I realized how much I need that for my creative process to get out and break out of the rut. If I don't have the opportunity to do that, I feel blocked at times and have to find other ways to conjure up new images in my head.

8. Is the community important for creativity? If so, how?

Being creative in general works well in the community. New ideas and impulses develop great in exchange with others. However, I prefer to do the actual work in peace at my desk and I enjoy painting for hours without being interrupted.
Thank you for this exciting interview!

If you want to see more, check out the Instagram profile @gretasschwester or the homepage