Andreas Preis brings animals to LIFE through intricately shaded illustrations

Posters promoting positive life messages don't have to cheesy and false. The LIFE series from German freelance designer and illustrator Andreas Preis combines simple instructions – Learn, Hope, Love and the ilk – with symmetrical swirls, intricate shading and subtle use of textures.

We discovered Andreas' project after seeing this Christmas card, so sat down with him to find out more about the project and the artist himself.

DA: What's your background and influences?

AP: "I grew up in a little village in the south of Germany, [though] for a few months now, I've been living and working in Berlin. I've always liked to draw, paint and just be creative. After school I started to study in Nuremberg and after my thesis, I began to work as a freelance designer and illustrator. I've been a big street art fan for quite a while, even though I never really did anything by myself. I love the works of artists like Shepard Fairey, Si Scott, Sitnie, Jacob Bannon and Russ Mills."

DA: What was your concept for this project? Why did you decide to combine animals with positive messages?

AP: "I did a series for all the signs of the zodiac quite a while ago and I really liked this whole project. So I thought, I should do another project with symmetry and animals, [but] I wanted to produce posters. I've always loved the work of Shepard Fairey: both his style and his messages. The idea was to do something similar, without copying his style."

DA: How did you match each animal to its messages?

AP: "There is some kind of idea behind every animal. Some [connections] are quite logical (like Fight), some other ones work more as symbols (such as Hope). Love emerged out of the shape that I wanted to create, but I guess it fits as well. My friend Ingo Walde loves gorillas [so I had to make the piece Think for him].

DA: How did you create the drawings?

AP: "I did some pencil sketches to get the main shape for every animal, and afterwards I worked on it in Photoshop to get a perfect half, [which I then] mirrored. I used this sketch to create the drawing, which was done using fineliners and markers. The different strokes are done with different sized fineliners. After that, I scanned the whole thing and mirrored it with Photoshop.

DA: What was your overall approach to colour schemes and textures for the pieces?

AP: "There was no specific idea, only to make it really colourful and to use different colours for the different animals. I wanted them to work as an ensemble as well as alone. I use textures a lot, because I prefer artworks with real stuff in it: real drawings, real dirt, real flaws, etc.

"I always try to combine traditional and digital techniques in a way, that in the end, you can't really say how it's done."

DA: For Learn image specifically, how did you choose you colours and textures?

AP: "This was my favourite because I love owls. In this case I just started with the eyes, because I wanted them to be traditional (which means yellow/orange) and I really liked that strong warm yellow. The green and blue work as some kind of complementary colors; that's something I did in most of these pieces.

"I can't really give you a reason why I used exactly this texture. I tried a few, and I think that was just the one I thought fitted most."

DA: What are you working on next?

AP: "I've got a few small jobs right now. Also, I'm working on two free projects: The usual suspects, a group of animal gangsters and in fact, a second – more detailed – version of LIFE, some new animals, some new messages."

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