I am always struck by anyone who has a great passion for their work. Tina Berning's contemplations about art and life impressed me so much, I think you will be inspired...
Many thanks to Tina in Berlin and to everyone at CWC, who so kindly helped arrange the interview.
mj: How would you describe your own style?
tina: probably simple classic, with not more than one or two striking details. i've been wearing my grandgrandmother's cameo since i was 18. it is so beautiful that i don't have any other jewelery at all. i'd always rather go for something very special than many different things. i am not the super feminine type, rather skinny and tall. i love women being very feminine, but it does not fit me. i love classics like my cheap handmade spanish farmer boots from untreated leather. no brand, just a classic shoe that could be 75 years old, a skirt and a long sleeve t-shirt and a tight biker blouson, that's my style for cold november berlin days.
mj: Does fashion inspire or influence your work?
tina: i am not interested in brands and i have never been, but i love to keep an eye on fashions' blossoms season by season. i am addicted to italian vogue, and of course shapes, colours and styles are appearing in my work, also because i do a lot of fashion illustration. it is funny how my job keeps me updated with whats going on, i find myself pretty well informed, these days. i have not been so interested before.
mj: Besides illustration, do you do other work, such as painting, etc.?
tina: i just had an exhibition showing my off-project "100 girls on cheap paper" in berlin and amsterdam, part of them will probably travel to tokyo and ny which is sooooo exciting for me. two years ago i started www.bilderklub.de, an online blog for illustrations fed by seven artists day by day.
the idea was to develop drawings besides illustration jobs, and for all of us it was a tremendous relief to start drawing again without a client in the neck. it's a bit quiet at bilderklub these days but we will reactivate it. it is extremely important to do more than just the jobs, otherwise you burn out too quickly. there is a need to develop all the time, so both projects were there to get off the jobs and do something just for me. we have the wonderful situation that we have our own gallery in berlin, so we can always exhibit, which is important when you do something "for yourself"--you have to show to invite criticism.
mj: What is your favorite project that you've designed so far?
tina: actually "100 girls on cheap paper" is working out perfectly. i had this in mind for a few years but never made it happen. then my friend joachim baldauf, a photographer who publishes a magazine called VORN called me to see if i had something that could happen on the VORN internetsite rather than putting the contents again. i immediately said: sure, my 100 girls, i will put one online every day for 100 days. so i forced myself to finish my collection within 100 days. i had an audience following the project and when i was nearly finished, joachim decided to publish it as a book.
yesterday i just did a poster for a magazine of a design company, they asked artists to do whatever they want but don't pay any money. these projects are so important as you will always jump one step forward knowing there is no restriction at all. the poster will be printed in only 2 colors so it looks a bit funny, and i like. i was reusing a drawing i just did for a big job, but this very drawing got cancelled and i am happy to get it printed like this now. when i finished and saw it in the preview i realized that it works like a gustav klimt image somehow. i didn't do that on purpose, it just happened and that leads us to the next question.
mj: In terms of your drawing style, who are your influences and how did you develop your style?
tina: i grew up with the FAZ magazine, the weekly supplement of my father's newspaper. my sisters and i fought about who'd get it first to cut out the beautiful photos. i was the youngest so i had to settle up with the remains--the illustrations and they were beautiful. heinz edelmann who was art director on yellow submarine contributed at least twice a month, hans hillmann, paola paglia, brad holland. i did not know that these were called illustrations but that was what i always wanted to do. so i went through the usual influences, klimt, schiele, beardsley, i collected everything i was able to find, 50s magazines, fashion catalogues, the access was not as easy as today with internet, and i started drawing, and drawing, and drawing....
inspirations stuck on Tina's studio walls: tear sheet from an italian vogue spread by stephen meisel, a drawing by heinz edelmann from FAZ magazine, 1985, a faded postcard of 60s berlin, a photo of an installation by maurizio cattelan
mj: Do you have new projects that you're working on?
tina: i will continue my exhibition work. my next project will be on paper again but much bigger format. i will keep up with the figure but will continue adding abstract patterns as i developed in "100 girls"
mj: What would your ideal project be?
tina: for me it is perfect like it is. i am not waiting for my perfect project, i am just in the middle of it. i have wonderful jobs and i can take time every now and then to do my own things. what else could i want? i love my job and i am so thankful.
Here's A FEW THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT TINA BERNING:
A) THE FOUR MOST STYLISH PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCED ME:
1 my father when he was young
2 my friend candy when i was young
3 my grandmother who was not a very nice person but had an extremely good taste, a coincidence that i found actually a few times so far
B) FOUR WAYS THAT STYLE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
1 style can be how you thow your sneakers on the floor. people who have a good style, or i would rather call it good taste, know how to put things in order, without forcing it. so even sneakers on the floor can look nice.
C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS
1 my brother in law is my favorite designer because he is the nicest designer i know. he makes cool glasses (www.mykita.com)
2 ann demeulemester, her things fit me, at least. i am very tall and long and never find things that fit me
3 i have a beautiful dress by PULVER
4 there is a berlin based design group called majaco. check out the collection FAUN at www.majaco-berlin.de i was smashed!!
D) FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE:
1 printing caps of nutella glasses (germans favourite chocolate spread) in a factory, quit after 3 days
2 selling records at a very well tempered record store, loved it
3 designing and making tiles for murals in northern wales,
4 drawing portraits of guests at events like carshop openings (worst job ever done)
E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER (AND DO):
1 cannary row with nick nolte and debra winger
2 buffalo 66
3 charade with cary grant, audrey hepburn and walter matthau
4 paper moon with ryan and tatum o'neal
F) FOUR PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED:
1 kaufbeuren (near the german alps)
2 denbigh in northern wales
G) FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH:
i don't watch TV i listen to music instead, today:
1. stuart staples of tindersticks (look at that beautiful cover artwork!)
2. giant sand
4. sly and the family stone
H) FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
1 gijon, spain
2 amed, bali
3 new york city
4 grasse, southern france
I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):
2 dict.tu-chemnitz.de (dictionary)
J) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS:
1 julio's pasta with chickspeas (in german they are called giggling peas), italian recipe
2 vitam-R (a yeast paste nobody i know likes but me)
3 vitello tonnato
4 creme brulee
K) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
1 that house in southern france i spent a summer swapping my berlin apartment
2 los angeles
4 actually home, i love it, i am overlooking berlin, it is warm and my boyfriend is playing records for me right now.