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Jenny Stieglitz

TIME IS FUNNY / TIME MACHINE SUITABLE TIDINGS FOR TIME WASTERS Interview with Jenny Stieglitz, illustration designer & fantastic optimist

Yes, I studied illustration and graphic design at the Provinciale Hogeschool. Afterwards you applied for TOEGEPAST, right? Why did you decide to do so? Mostly because I like doing research before I make something. But when you have a job or you receive an assignment you have strict deadlines and you have less time to develop a project in detail. Did you choose to be part of TOEGEPAST in order to work on a specific project? Yes, with TOEGEPAST you have enough time to work on your own ideas. Twelve months and regular meetings give you the opportunity to explore and develop those ideas and create new things by experimenting. Besides that, I also felt attracted to TOEGEPAST because of the network it can provide you with and the things you learn from the people you get to know. You were talking about You graduated here in Hasselt. Which faculty?

assignments before; have you received any jobs or commissioned work since you

My final project from the University was a collective one; together with a fellow-ex-student, An Denteneer, I formed collectiefJANNY. Our graduation project, l’Histoire des Marolles, won the Wanatoe prize. As a result of this prize, we got quite big assignments: we made a pocket guide for the City of Genk in the context of Manifesta; during the same time, we designed billboards for the City of Hasselt. Until January, there are four big drawings about collectiefJANNY at places in Hasselt, which are related to the life and work of the collective. For example, in the shopping street is a drawing of ‘our shop’. At the Kadettenplein, where there are a lot of shops for children, we have a tree house. You can also see a drawing of our studio and our office. You have graduated?

done several assignments so far. How has it been to work with two TOEGEPAST

It’s nice, because they have different opinions. You can take all of their advice or just specific elements of what they suggest. Sometimes it’s really helpful. Basically, you decide what you want to hear. (laughs) Yes, that’s how it is. You take from it what you think is right. What is the last advice that you received? To take the turkey sandwich for lunch. (laughs) Relating to the project, the question of whether or not I should do an installation, and how important it should be, keeps coming back. The coaches advice me to start building it, while I focus more on the concept and the illustrations, the installation comes next. What is the title of your project for TOEGEPAST? Time is Funny. It is indeed. (both laugh) I had to write a text for Christophe De Schauvre about my project for TOEGEPAST and I couldn’t come up with a name. One minute before I had to send it away it came to my mind and now I feel that it fits perfectly. What is it about? It is about the concept of time as something that humans made and that now controls us; we coaches who give you advice?



studies for Time is Funny / Time Machine


always have too little time or a deadline to stick to. I was often complaining that I didn’t have enough time for what I actually wanted to do and, for this reason, I chose to do research about how I could make time or create time or save time or win time. I tried some experiments, and at the end I invented a time machine. That’s ambitious. Something that many generations have failed to invent. It sounds really futuristic and spacey, but it isn’t. I’m coming up with concepts, where, by doing one thing, other actions follow that save time or combine many things into one event. You need to explain this. Can you give us an example? By attaching a string to a bottle of water, threading it through a pulley, and attaching the other end of the string to a watering can, you can water your plants and feed your cat automatically, while you pour water into your own glass. With that system, you don’t have to stop working for other tasks, and you save half a minute of watering your plants and almost a minute of feeding your cats. You are describing a possible domino effect that can save time during the day? It is about very small actions, but if you do them twice a day, five times a week, almost every day while you’re working, you can retire two months earlier just because of the bottle with strings attached to it. You want to create an image of efficiency. How do you intend to present this project? Will you make a book of

It will be one big illustration of a working table; the example that I just named is one of the tricks attached to the surface. In another example, you automatically create a Greek salad while drawing. By sharpening your pencils, drawing lines or erasing things, a cucumber gets sliced, feta cheese cut into pieces and lettuce washed. It all happens using the same simple time machine components, like strings and pulleys. At the end of your drawing you have a Greek salad prepared for you. Why a Greek salad? I think possible scenarios demonstrating how people can use their time better?


Jenny Stieglitz

that while I was working on this drawing I wanted to eat a Greek salad. (laughs) There was feta cheese and tomatoes in my mind. How can we imagine the way you do your research? How do these ideas come about?

In the beginning it was very scientific; I read many things about Einstein and his theory of relativity. I was looking for explanations of multitasking and how it works. Especially how your brain works when you do many things at the same time. It’s very personal, because you said that you always want to have more time. Yes, wouldn’t that be great, to have more time? The research I did was to understand the basics, but my intention is to make something light, funny and fictional. A very important part of my project is also the relationship between time and fantasy. Mechanical time is a human creation, something that we invented to control change and to make appointments. But the most absurd, fantastic ideas are also human inventions. What makes one more reliable than the other? Time has started to control us, and with fantasy, I want to win that control back. Simultaneously, there’s the irony of working on a project for a year, just to win a couple of months in the end. In this way, fantasy starts to control and take up my time because I keep on inventing and drawing, which could be seen as losing time. Who is your project for? Are you illustrating for children? Or is it for everyone? Children might like the visual aspect of my drawings, but my illustrations are for people who also experience the problem of having too little time. Time is Funny/Time Machine is about looking at time in a different way; about making people aware that time is something we have invented ourselves. Actually it’s something very contingent and we should find a way to get out of it or not to be controlled by it. What would be your dream assignment? I’m really starting to miss drawing for children’s books; I did that a couple of times while I was studying illustration. I love how you can add layers to a story by adding smaller story lines in your

of Hasselt

collectiefJANNY’s studio at Koningin Astridlaan in the city



portable studio


drawings that aren’t mentioned in the text. Besides that, I’ve always liked to do whole concepts in which I can adjust my designs to different outcomes. If I can work with someone who, for example, makes music, I would design the album, the stage decorations, maybe the costumes, the posters, flyers and t-shirts. And I think it would also be great to create the scenography of an exhibition or event. Are you drawing by hand or on the computer? When I do illustrations, I first draw by hand. Then I scan my drawings, manipulate them digitally, print them out and continue working on them. I always work with a lot of materials. I start with paint, collage and try to experiment; I scan it in and print it out again, add some coloured pencils or aquarelle, and so on. Do you draw the images off the top of your head or do you need to look up what you draw? I often look things up in books or, if I need something very specific, on the internet. Mostly just to be sure that I get it right. But when I draw in perspective—I love to draw big amounts of objects together, or complex machines—I don’t do it. I just measure lines and try things out until it looks more or less right. When I draw a character in a difficult position, I sometimes ask a person to model. Or if no one is around, I use Photo Booth and make a picture of myself as a reference. Because of this, there are a lot of pictures in my Photo Booth folder, in which I’m posing in the weirdest positions. As someone who admires the pencil as a tool, do you have a brand that you trust? I used to use whatever I could find in my pencil case. But since a couple of years I’ve been addicted to my Rotrings: pen-like pencils with a fine point. You can do more details with them. How do you separate your time? Right now you say that your car is your moving studio. You got all your pencils, sketchpads, your laptop and even your printer in the trunk of your dark blue Peugeot. Will this be a situation that we will find you in, in the future?

No, this is temporary and relates to the situation that 6

Jenny Stieglitz

I’m in now. On the one hand, it’s a funny story to later look back on, but it’s not so funny when I have forgotten the one thing I really need on my desk in Leuven while I’m in Paal or Houthalen or somewhere else. Next year I am moving to Berchem, in Antwerp. I will have my studio there and then I will stay more in one place. Right now I live in Leuven, but twelve square meters is simply too small. My mother lives in Houthalen where I have space and where I can stay whenever I want, but it is not a good studio; I have to keep it liveable for other people too. For TOEGEPAST, I also want to make an installation of one of the illustrations. When I start working on that, I have to be in one place, and that will be in Antwerp. How can you know one year in advance that you will move to Antwerp? I got an email from a friend who will move to New York for half a year and wants to rent out her place. The apartment is so beautiful that I decided to move there, even if I have to be in Hasselt a lot in the fall. Why is that? My internship is there. I am still studying. You are studying? I thought you graduated. Yes, I did in graphic design and illustration. Now I am doing cultural studies. Is it in addition to your graphic design and illustration? It is, in the sense that this more theoretical study widens my cultural knowledge and therefore gives me new inspiration. While doing projects for the university, I get to meet other people in the cultural field, designers as well, like Gert Dooreman or Åbäke, or the musical theatre company Braakland/ZheBilding. I did some courses around theatre and got really interested in that. I like to think further than illustration or graphic design alone; there are other ways to tell stories or shape content which can be combined with illustration or design, and in this way, a lot of different people can work together to come to new or even better ideas. Who is the internship with? It’s a collaboration between Åbäke, Z33 and Frans Masereel Centrum. They are doing an exhibition about graphic design. It will be a different exhibition. There won’t be anything hanging on the wall. But there will be a lot of wallets filled with cards and small objects, created by graphic designers. The exhibition will be a sort of performance, in which the wallets are shown to the visitors. I really like the way in which graphic design and performance are combined in this exhibition, and it is an example of the sort of crossovers I just talked about. For my internship, I will be doing something for this project. Your interest seems to also go in the direction of scenography and installations. I have to admit that I’ve never done it, but I am interested in it. My first approach in that field will be in my Time is Funny/Time Machine project for TOEGEPAST. But it will be just a side element; the illustrations are still the main focus. I want to do the installation because it looks fun, but I don’t know how the end result will be, because it is something new for me.


TOEGEPAST 17 JENNY STIEGLITZ photographs Matylda Krzykowski text Matylda Krzykowski translation Rachel Griffin, Earnest Studio graphic design MaisonCaro & Kahil Janssens coaches Kaspar Hamacher & MaisonCaro TOEGEPAST 17 is organized by Design Platform Limburg. With the support of Z33 – House of contemporary art. Zuivelmarkt 33, Hasselt (BE)