Sandra Dieckmann has been an integral part of the feel & look of No Guts No Glory for many many moons.
It's incredible what you can take from someones work and Sandra's work has found itself woven into the fabric of so many kindred folk, young and old alike, it's no wonder she has won commissions from The Natural History Museum, Sir David Attenborough himself and is now working on some of the finest picture books for Children we have ever seen. Leaf her debut book tells the Story of a Polar Bear, his journey in wilder lands, the acceptance of others around him intertwined with issues of global climate change, fear of the unknown, kindness and patience.
We chatted to Sandra about her work and life in this segment of Meet The Maker, have a peek through our collection of her beautiful work here...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us about your makes?
Hello I'm Sandra Dieckmann and I'm an illustrator / author / maker. I'm originally from Germany but have been living and working in East London for quite a while now.
I produce a lot of self initiated work that I sell in the form of prints, greeting cards and t-shirts through my own studio shop Mama Wolf, my Etsy shop and wonderful stockists like NGNG. A lot of my work involves dreamy landscapes and animals and the natural world - really the places I dream of and would like to live in.
As an author / illustrator make picture books and am currently creating my second one with Flying Eye Books of Nobrow. Sometimes I potter too but sadly had to recently leave Clay Collective in London as illustration is just too busy for me at the moment.
What do you think the future of handmade is?
I think there is a need and want to go back to a real 'hands on' approach. Printing, Planting, making, quilting, working with wood and taking pride in slow, conscious doing with a sustainable ethos. The DIY movement is in full swing and as technology calls for automation in many sectors I think we will see a counterculture rise up that concentrates on the opposite. I think our story as humans is so tightly woven into the fabric of handmade that we will never stop making beautiful things by hand that are treasured by those that come after us. There is nothing better than giving or receiving a handmade gift.
Nothing says " I care" more than that and as the latest model of yet another flat screen tv and last years mobile phone piles up on landfills that can never biodegrade we are robbing ourselves of the air we breathe and the earth we live off. We realise slowly that all that stuff does not make you feel good or happy.
Our generation or at least the people around me are becoming increasingly aware there is a lot of calm and ease and simple pleasures to be found in slow living and making your own. While knowing that happiness lies often in the experience of the making and the pride one takes in the achievement of having created something.
Whats your favourite tool to use for producing your work, why, how did you find it, and does it have a story?
My favourite tool used to be the mechanical pencil. It was my go to staple tool for years and I knew exactly what I would get. HB, B, 2B and sometimes 4B were my go to leads. As an artist it's funny how sometimes when something works really well for you it becomes less interesting. For me at least I needed to explore and have since splashed around with inks, use gouache and watercolour in my work and also more and more digital elements like working on the Wacom tablet. I like the playfulness of throwing different materials together and although many would say that I have a recognisable style I do have an urge to push out of it and evolve somehow just simply to keep moving and please myself. I mostly enjoy keeping my eyes off the screen which I don't manage half as much as I would like to and I have to say that although I enjoy the speed and flexibility of working on a tablet there is nothing like the accidental mark left by a real brush on paper or that graphite smudge. I guess I will just have to stay in flux and let both dance with each other.
How do you achieve a balance between intuition and practicality in your work?
I don't think the two are in any way contradictory of each other. Intuition is my gut feeling and my animal instinct knowing when something is right or wrong and when to do something and practicality is something perhaps partly "learned" through nurture. My intuition is something I cannot control of course whereas I can apply myself to tasks ahead. I do that more or less well. Often overworking and not listening to my intuition telling me it's time to go for a walk, breathe fresh air and switch off. Perhaps the two do compete with each other in that respect !?!
Autumn/winter can be a time of great inspiration, what do you do when you feel stuck creatively and what tools do you use to reignite you creativity?
I love autumn and winter like I love the nights. It's the best time for working when you feel like the world is just a little bit quieter.
It's really tough having to be switched on and working creatively all day every day and like everyone I do struggle. It's more so that there is all the admin, selling, packing, bookkeeping, running a studio, markets etc. while trying to have ideas, write texts and draw and meet clients and so on. It's manic and that part I can get really frustrated about. The adrenaline and energy you get from being really busy exhilarates me but after a while I don't feel very well and struggle with anxiety when I'm too busy as I feel that the part of me that likes to sleep in and read and hike and eat and just float slowly while observing the world doesn't get a go. I had a burnout last year which landed me in hospital and that taught me a lot. In fact I'm still learning as I digest what happened ... making so many mistakes still today. It gets pretty claustrophobic for me and in those times I help myself by doing Yoga or just simply stopping for a day. I think you have to remember that your health and that absolutely includes mental health comes first and foremost and even the most amazing project can wait another day.
When you enter mine and Tim's flat you are greeted by the quote " Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage."by Anaïs Nin.
In many respects that is not unlike saying "No Guts No Glory". I do very much believe that we are the makers of our own environment, a mirror of the people close to us and daily these words give me strength to say NO when I need to and YES when I want to.