This season, (capsule) commissioned Berlin-based artist Tina Berning to illustrate her vision of our community. Berning produced two complementary pieces, one inspired by our mens show and the other by the debut of our womens. Her signature, figurative illustration style, often on found paper, manages to speak volumes with a whisper. Here the (capsule) community becomes a gentleman ready for work with shirt sleeves rolled, studious beauties and magic, daredevil tricks and texture; all at play amidst a mysterious red line. The proverbial common thread, perhaps? We've got a Q&A with Tina after the jump.
Name: Tina Berning Age: 39 Hometown: somewhere in Bavaria Currently live in: Berlin Favorite clothing brands: Dries Van Noten, Marni
Can you give us a brief history of your life as an artist -- from your first days of crayons and markers to where you are now? My first box of wax crayons I got from my Swiss grandmother when I was five. They were the finest Swiss crayons, Caran d'Ache, and I haven't used any other crayons since. I decided to become an artist when I was six, I guess because my mother made me such a beautiful artist-costume for carnival, with a wooden palette and paint splashes all over. I never revised this plan -- I studied illustration, spent some time doing graphics and have been happily working on my artistic career for ten years.
What has been your history of illustration for the fashion industry? Actually I started illustration, working for the automobile industry. My first fashion thing was a special for a German magazine called Allegra. They used to have these supplements you could tear out, and I was privileged to do a fully drawn, 30-page fashion special. That was in 2002 and since then, fashion has always been an essential part of my work. There have been endless fashion spreads for magazines, monthly fashion columns, a horoscope just showing shoes. I have been doing portraits of all the important fashion columnists for the New York Times, working for fashion companies, smaller ones like the wonderful Danish Iben Hoj (check out her knits!) and bigger ones, like a campaign for RARE.
How has that affected the growth of your more personal work? Because my work is always figurative, clothing, as the package of my figures is an important part of my art. Knowing about fashion enables me to use it consciously, to enhance expression of the figures or to drop certain hints. Beyond that, the endless play of volume, lines, shapes and structures is always inspiring.
The paper you use for your illustrations often plays a part in the finished piece. Are you a collector? Oh yes! Any blank paper I can get hold of, I take back home. Flea markets, abandoned houses, trash paper bins. I love the history and memories old paper implies. Analog or digital? Both! I love the advantages of both and I use both consciously. But there is a huge partition wall between my analog and my digital working space in my studio.
How do computers play a role in your work if at all? There is not one day without the computer. I use it for researching, collecting, assembling. Even a 100% analog project ends up being scanned, categorized and archived digitally. But, the first approach is always handmade.
What music are you listening to when youre working? I have survived ten years in Berlin without any techno in the studio (and that's a challenge, I tell you...), I love handmade music. Americana, they call it these days, but it's what I always loved most. There are a few bands I've been listening to for many years, over and over, whose music is deeply woven into my art -- anything by Howe Gelb and Giant Sand, Smog and The Tindersticks. Whenever I need concentrate or be calm, I turn on their albums.
Some things that inspire you these days? Just teaching drawing at art school today -- the results and work of my students has been so lovely and inspiring. Besides that, old photos, some books I've found at flea markets: "Women in Paris" from 1965, another about Russian popular prints from the 1850s. Things like that. I am a collector...
The theme for the (capsule) art work was "community" and you rendered a proverbial common thread among other things. Any thoughts on the theme and the finished pieces themselves? They are my favorite pieces, maybe, that I have done all year. I wanted the workers to seem to be concentrating very hard, absorbed, they don't show off, they are busy, they take things seriously, everyone works for himself but all for a common aim.
Upcoming exhibitions or new projects? Italian photographer Michelangelo Di Battista and I started a co-operation for Vogue Italia two years ago and we're busy developing two other projects together. I'll do another exhibition sometime in 2010 and I am excited to see in what direction this will go