Jochen Gerner

Jochen Gerner


We are interested to hear about the journey that led you to become an illustrator — was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

I’m not quite sure I always wanted to become an illustrator, but I’ve always wanted to draw. As a child, I couldn’t really imagine making a career out it. 
It was while I was attending art school that I realized it was the ideal career for me — not only would I have complete independence, it just requires a few sheets of paper and some drawing utensils.


Has there been a “breakthrough” moment when you felt your work was really taking off? 

In 2001, I released my book Tnt en Amérique, published by Editions de l’Ampoule. It was one of my first restoration works in print media. 
I had the sensation of having worked in a lab and gained an insight through the process — to hide in order to better reveal. There was a lot of buzz and news surrounding this release, and as a result I was invited to exhibit work at the Anne Barrault gallery in Paris. Ever since, I’ve had the opportunity to replicate several, similar graphic experiences. 


Are you able to balance your personal projects with your work projects?

I’m at the point where I’m balancing my time equally between commissioned illustrations — for publications or other mediums — book projects and exhibitions for galleries, art centers and museums. 
I draw with the same amount of joy for all of these projects. Even though the work flow and rhythm can be pretty different from one project to another, the graphic principles or narratives established in one often enrich or inform another. 
Juggling multiple projects at once is sometimes tricky, but it ends up happening organically. 


Do you have a routine? What is a typical day to day for you?

A typical day for me begins at 9:00 am and ends around 11:30 pm. I work in my studio, built as an extension of my house. My day can involve taking care of my kids, observing the birds through my window, checking my email, skimming through journals, cooking, picking mushrooms in my garden, or watering the plants. 
These are moments that nourish and inspire my work as an illustrator


How are you interacting or collaborating with others in your field?

Often, it’s by collaborating with graphic designers, authors, copywriters or even animation filmmakers. However, the most beautiful collaborations are not necessarily those with others in my field; surprisingly rich projects can take place from an encounter with a farmer, an architect or a musician.


Can you tell us about an exciting collaboration you’re working on?

I’ve been working on a big project for a few months, restoring all the photographs that appeared in an atlas published in 1950. 
Through specific graphic effects, for me it’s about being at the forefront of figuration and abstraction — to make the human presence essentially disappear, to enable the strange and abstract beauty of the world come to life. This project could come to life as an exhibition or a book in the future.


Do you have a dream project?

Yes, to create an illustrated story narrating the presence of images throughout my childhood.