Nicole Lane: Where are you from? When did you begin illustrating?
Nanna Prieler : I was born in a small, idyllic village in the mountains of southern Austria. Growing up in this traditional kind of fairytale world made me a very romantic person who has been obsessed with drawing ever since. I went away to an art school with focus on graphic design at the age of 14. I felt very confused and out of place in my teens and kind of lost focus on what I really wanted. Me and my boyfriend moved to Vienna and just messed around for some time—until I needed money—at that point I decided to start working as a graphic designer.
It’s a beautiful profession but it didn’t take me long to recognize that it was not the right thing for me to do. I quit my job in a very hot summer in 2014 and began trying to survive as an illustrator.
Your slightly muted tones that you utilize in your work is so beautiful! Could you discuss your style, and how you began working with your palette?
Yeah, I guess my use of color is the first thing that catches the eye. I’m searching for something like harmony but without being boring—sweet and expected. There should always be a noticeable tension, like in a good relationship. The palette accentuate my visual world. Most of the time I’m falling for one particular color and then search for it’s soulmate and some friends to hang out with. Working feels like curating a dance battle between uniform and contrast, sharp and round, dark and bright, fine and rough.
What kinds of techniques are you working with right now?
I used to work in a technique which looks a little bit like woodcut. For these kinds of illustrations, I cut out templates and printed each color by hand, so it was quite a slow process. Currently I’m searching for a more vivid technique, something that makes it more easy to express myself. For this reason I started experimenting with felt-tip and other markers. I found out that it works really well for me. Finally it feels like I can release my visual language in a more natural way.
Can you take us through a typical day in your studio? Do you go every day?
I try to avoid all kind of routines so my days are always different. It also depends what kind of work is on my schedule. The sketching process can happen everywhere, it’s sometimes even better to be in a public place for those kind of things. Sometimes I’ll be in the studio during daytime and go home punctually for dinner, but on other days you’d find me manic working the whole night until I go home to sleep when the city is awakening. I’m not in the studio every day, but I feel like my whole life is the working process.
What do you do besides making illustrations? What are some of your other interests? How do those interests incorporate themselves into your practice?
There are a lot of things that I enjoy and mostly I’m combining them. Such as reading while listening to jazz music and drinking glasses of coffee and wine. Looking after my plants while sitting in my favourite chair. Looking at beautiful objects while making up absurd stories. Plant markets and museums. Talking about things that happened and analyzing them precisely. Talking about things that will never happen but would be so good. Dancing around bonfire. Thoughts about colors, thoughts about the things I’d like to do, thoughts in general. I am the person I am because I’m doing the things that I’m doing and the illustrative work is born, develops and changes as I do as a person. So I feel like all this is one big universe and it’s in constant interchange with each other.
Any upcoming exhibitions or news that you would like to share with us?
Currently, I’m working on a series called ‘Modern Love’ which focus on interpersonal relationships nowadays in a sexual but also humorous context. Also I finally want to set up an online shop for my original and print illustrations. I want my work to grow and in the best case surprise myself with where it goes.
Nanna Prieler is an illustrator born in Austria. She is experimenting with color and exploring analog techniques to process ideas and translate them into her own visual language, which she would describes as a play between round and square,
fine and rough, figurative and abstract, obvious and absurd. She is currently working on commercial commissions and personal artworks from her studio in Vienna.