For those of you who enjoyed the screen prints and posters we recently featured here by Leipzig-based artist and illustrator Anna Haifisch, you’re in for a treat! Our friends over at Drawn & Quarterly just released Haifisch’s debut graphic novel, Von Spatz, earlier this month. Not unlike her ongoing comic strip, “The Artist” — which features a lanky, bird-esque version of Haifisch herself — Von Spatz offers a meditation on creative life that is both utterly charming and casually brutal.
The novel chronicles the daily activities of Walt Disney during a stay at Von Spatz, a rehabilitation center he’s taken to after suffering a nervous breakdown. There he meets other familiar figures like Tomi Ungerer and Saul Steinberg who are similarly struggling to navigate this strange world of relaxation and recovery. The absurd set up pairs wonderfully with Haifisch’s dark humour and subject matter; although you’ll want a copy of this book for the colour palette alone!
Check out our full interview with Anna Haifisch below.
Booooooom: What does a typical day look like for you? Is there a particular time you feel most creative?
Anna Haifisch: I get up around 10 and then I ride my bike to my studio where I usually eat breakfast and have a look at emails. Before noon I’m usually not able to draw anything, so mostly I do office stuff. My prime time working hours where I get the best ideas are starting around 5pm.
Booooooom: Was there a specific moment or point at which you felt you’d arrived at your own personal style?
Anna Haifisch: That was maybe after I finished studying art in 2011. But I feel like I will never arrive at a certain style because I get bored by my own drawings quickly. Then I need to change it up a little bit. Trying new things and stuff.
Booooooom: How would you describe your sense of humour and its role in your work?
Anna Haifisch: My humour comes from tragedy. Watching a character fail is accidentally more funny than watching them succeed. Most of the time I’m not really trying to be funny but humour sure helps to keep the work a bit light. I don’t want to depress anyone.
Booooooom: In Von Spatz art appears as both a potential cure (therapy) and the cause of artists’ distress. Can you speak a bit about the relationship between anxiety and artistry?
Anna Haifisch: The fear of failing is very human I think. Maybe artists are more often confronted with failure. Financial distress, shitty work, horrible clients, etc… those things can lead to anxiety. Also the world around us causes distress. Looking at current political dynamics is scary as fuck. As an artist I’m well aware that I’m only able to do what I’m doing in a functioning democracy. I truly believe that as an artist I don’t need to suffer or be anxious in order to make good art.
Booooooom: What part of the artistic process do you find most challenging?
Anna Haifisch: The worst are people who want a certain thing from me and have expectations of how my drawings should look. Then I lay on the studio couch, paralyzed, thinking that I hate what I am doing. But I can’t complain too much, this is just prima donna shit.
Booooooom: Why Walt Disney?
Anna Haifisch: He is the most famous artist on the planet. Every kid grew up with his work. I find that impressive. Also I like how much he cared about drawing animals. He was truly a visionary.
Booooooom: Colour is one of the most notable aspects of your work. Did the palette for Von Spatz emerge from something specific?
Anna Haifisch: My colours come from my former days as a screen printer. I always had to choose a limited palette. That’s what I’m still doing, picking 4 or 5 colours to work with. The infinite photoshop palette just makes me nervous. In the case of Von Spatz I wanted to pay tribute to the merciless sun in California.
Booooooom: What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
Anna Haifisch: Mostly it’s art. Or literature. At the moment it’s children books like “Lyle, the crocodile“ or Peanuts. But that changes weekly.
Booooooom: You’re involved in a variety of things aside from drawing — you cofounded the Indie Comic Festival and do printmaking as well — what’s one thing you haven’t done yet that you’d like to do or try?
Anna Haifisch: I want to write and draw an opera. I want tragedy and I want to go big! I’d also like to join a tennis club.
Booooooom: What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
Anna Haifisch: The Artist, season 3, is on its way. It will be a bird opera. Changing the whole The Artist game up for me. Also I’m working on a new book with Perfectly Acceptable Press. Getting into the short story format a little bit. Both things should be ready in fall 2018.