Interview and Portratit by Judith Carnaby



April 2014

Nadine Magner is a freshly minted illustrator, just starting her career and continuing to develop her portfolio and commercial work. She discovered her love of illustration whilst studying for a graphic design degree, graduating from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, in 2012. Since relocating to Cologne she has started an ongoing working relationship with a Cologne newspaper. Often creating portraits, Nadine creates illustrations that meld digital and analogue elements, with hand-drawn lines and cropped textures.

Slipping outside to sit in the lovely spring sun with coffees in hands, Nadine and I chatted about her time abroad, including her time in New Zealand (my home country) and how studying overseas has influenced her and her work.

– – – –

 nadine 5

Illustration by Nadine Magner for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger


Judith Carnaby: You have travelled to New Zealand as well as studied in the UK and the Netherlands over the last few years. How do you feel living in different cities has influenced your creative work?

Nadine Magner: I think a lot actually, because every city has their own little design scene or creative scene and they are all really different. I studied for one year in the UK, in Leeds, and it is really different to what I experienced in the Netherlands, and now Cologne is also completely different.

What has it been like moving to Cologne? Are you from Cologne originally?

I’m originally from Düsseldorf, which is really close. When I moved to Cologne I didn’t really have a plan and I wasn’t really organised, I just wanted to move back home to be closer to my family and friends. I was really lucky as I met two art directors early on – one is from the magazine I am working for, and one is at an agency. I had my first job last July and from then on I started to work as a freelance illustrator.


nadine 4


Illustration by Nadine Magner for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger


You are just starting your career in illustration. Do you look to illustrators you respect as reference to help in the development of your career, or are you seeing how it develops, step by step?

I have some people I whose work I really like that I look at sometimes and it’s kind of motivating in that they seem to always have work. I think everybody has their favourite role model and inspiration.

And how has it been participating in this illustration festival?

It’s really great, I love it. I was so happy when I got the email saying I had been selected! I like the work of some of the illustrators here so much, and now I have the opportunity to show my work alongside them! I also like talking to other illustrators because I am right at the beginning, and sometimes I don’t really know how to do things. It is always great when you can ask people with more experience for some advice. But in the end you just have to do it yourself anyway!



Self-directed illustration by Nadine Magner


What do you feel the illustration scene is like here in Cologne? Is it a supportive community? Are there galleries and people that you talk with, or agencies, for example?

I think that there are galleries, but I don’t really know any. I don’t think there are any agencies here, but I feel the whole scene is growing – I feel like there are a lot of illustrators.

Do you enjoy working with a handmade aesthetic, or do you do a lot of computer work as well? What is the process you have for creating your illustrations?

I really like the handmade stuff, but more and more I draw with the computer, but I make it look as if it was drawn by hand.


nadine 2



Detail of illustration by Nadine Magner for null22eins about the Cologne club scene


How do you approach creating an illustration? And is that different depending on if you are working for a client or for yourself?

For every job I research in the same way. I look for images, and do experimental sketches. I choose one or two to develop further. If It is an assignment I kind of know how I will do it and I try to get to the point of what the client wants. But if I do my own stuff, I can always start with an idea of what I want to do, and at the end it can be completely different. You can’t really do that with a client because obviously they already have an idea of what they want.


nadine 3

Illustration by Nadine Magner for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

You have been creating quite a few illustrations for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. How did you become involved with them? Have you enjoyed developing a long-term relationship with a client?

I met one of the art directors and created illustrations for a board game for them and from then on we have continued to work together. I really like it! I have never had a client where I have only made one illustration, but then I only have these two clients! They are my first clients and they are ongoing clients.

What do you like about collaborating with art directors? How do you see their role in illustration? The more that illustrators are doing self directed work and the larger the variety of platforms for creating work, perhaps that line is being blurred a bit more?

I really like the art directors I’m working with, because they know the client and what the client wants, so they can direct me a little bit. I think otherwise I would be doing crazy stuff and then it wouldn’t work out with the client! And I always like that if I really don’t know how to move on, because that happens, I can always call and send them what I did or ask them a question which I find very helpful.



nadine 6


Illustration by Nadine Magner for fashion boutique Madamski

Thanks Nadine! See more of Nadine’s work on her website.