Sandra Dieckmann or 'Mama Wolf' as her studio friends call her, is a German born artist now residing in East London. 'With delicate detailing and pops of colour, her whimsical, mixed media illustrations feature a zoo-full of characters' in her dreamy world of surreal sketching.
We managed to pull her attention away from the paintbrush for a short time to ask some questions:
Did you always envisage being an artist and how did you find yourself becoming an illustrator?
I don't think I had being an artist as a clear aim set before me. I always liked to draw and paint and make things. My mum was a Kindergarden teacher so I used to hang with the kids there for lunch or after school even when I was much older. It was a nice and colourful atmosphere and I particularly enjoyed making banana alligators for those little ones that didn’t like their fruit. My dad loved to draw and paint and write as well and I think a lot of my enthusiasm, appreciation and enjoyment stems from that time and having lots of making involved in my daily life.
My parents where very open and tolerant and loved to explore. I also had a deep love for animals and the natural world which I think must stem from all the hours I played outside in the woods around the house and watching nature programs ( I wasn't allowed to watch much else on telly).
I left Germany at the age of 19 after my mom had died and I had helped to care for her for a few years and came to London just with one bag and never went back. I think her death took a lot of my fear from me and put life into perspective and even today I think that it’s most important to look to living and being thankful that you are allowed to be and to follow your calling. It’s also exciting to leave a mark in your lifetime so if you can by being creative or in any other way imaginable why not do it. It’s much more fun spending the hours of your life doing something you enjoy and bringing things to others to ponder or purely enjoy then to wait for things to get better. At the bottom of it all things are quite simple I think.
Who inspires you most in the illustration world?
I admire the work of many fellow artists all for completely different reasons. Old and new, established and emerging. Some because they are to the point and witty like Jean Jullien, some purely for the craftsmanship or colour or pattern or the way that they lend themselves to great story-telling. Henri Rousseau's jungle paintings are always amazing, I love Carson Ellis' drawings, Victo Ngai's dynamic scenes, Tove Jansson's stories and I admire Pat Perry's adventures and sketches. Oh there is so much exciting work out there that I love discovering. I find admiring other people's work and really seeing that person communicating well and creating something unmatched is a great motivator for me as a person and an artist but I also find that I'm more inspired by things that are not related to illustration or even man made things at all ... like autumn leaves and gusty winds and dark nights and watching creatures be creatures. Music and writing is often also a great spark for me to get going on something!
Did any particular projects help you grow your considerable digital following ?
I cannot remember. Maybe there was a point but I honestly cannot recall. I actually just had a look at some stats online to see if there were any big jumps in engagements with my work on social media at any particular point in time. ( I never look at stats ) and worked out that there wasn't. It seems to be a steady organic growth since I started putting work out there properly in 2011. I think it's just the nature of the beast that I draw and publish the work very steadily because that is just what I do and very lucky that people are engaging with it the way they do. That said, it was amazing working with Sky, Lily Cole and Veja and the WWF on the Rainforest Rescue project last year which was engaging for everyone since we did a month long instagram installation where we grew an amazonian rubber tree (online) to help raise awareness for the region. Previously flying to New Zealand and Australia to speak at Semi Permanent Conferences with Etsy about my life and work was super too as I got to meet lots of people over there and an audience I might have not reached otherwise.
In the mean time see more of Sandra's work with Saving Harry here: