We meet Cologne based illustrator Marlene Juliane Schindler to talk about female friendships, positive body image and drawing women we can all relate to!
Hi Marlene, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you began illustrating?
Hey girls! I am Marlene Juliane Schindler, 24 years old and living in Cologne, Germany. Currently I’m studying media and business psychology.
I started to draw regularly again about a year and half ago. I got myself a draw pad as I wanted to experiment with a new medium and i really liked it. I’ve always been drawing and it was always about human faces and bodies. Digital drawing gave me new creative options and since then it is my most used and most liked technique.
You're based in Cologne, Germany do you find Cologne a creative place? Is there anywhere else in the world you'd like to live and work?
Yes, I think Cologne is a creative place. Even tough it’s one of the bigger cities in Germany , it often has a village-like character, somehow everybody knows everybody, which often gives you new opportunities and helps you to find like-minded folks or people, who inspire you.
Right now I’m perfectly happy to live here, but maybe one day I want to see something else, I’m not sure about that yet.
"It’s about friendship, respecting each other, being strong together and intimacy, too. I like it to leave it open, if the females on some of my drawings are friends or lovers because I get many different interpretations about this, which i think is very interesting and exciting."
The majority of your artwork is of women – why is this?
The most interesting subject for me to draw are and will always be humans, especially women. Like probably every women, I deal with questions about perception of women and how I see myself. Drawing women is a way for me to discuss these questions with myself. To say it simply: It’s probably because I am a women.
How do you want women to feel when looking at your art?
I love reading the comments or my DM's that are like "oh, i relate to her" or "that could be me" or something like this. I really like it, when the viewer is able to identify themselves with my work. By drawing real women in natural every-day environments I want to give people a access to my work on a personal level. I don’t have a specific idea about what I want women to feel when looking at my art, but I’m happy if women feel empowered and included.
Where do you draw the majority of your inspiration from?
The majority of my inspiration a draw from situations and feelings I experience in my every-day life or i listen to stories and feelings friends experience. Also I have photographs I’ve made of my friends or myself or selfies sent to me by my friends, which i use as template for my drawings. Drawing people I know often helps me to create a type of intimacy.
You portray real women with real bodies, which we love. Where did this stem from?
I like to experiment with different body types and I think it’s very important to show women and men different types of female appearances. It's not a good idea to only show one type of beauty and to make it seem like you have to look a certain way as a women. The second reason is, that you have seen stereotypical images of "perfect" and "unreal" women too often, which makes it boring to look at. I, by my own, like to look at images of imperfect bodies and faces because it's exciting, to explore the little flaws.
Another reason is that i think it makes my figures more realistic and interesting, when they are not "perfect". For instance I use body hair, little freckles or black circles around the eyes as a stylistic device to display something that often feels irregular when looking at images of women, even though it’s pretty normal.
A lot of your drawings also include women taking selfies in their underwear which is very relevant in our digital age. How have you found the reaction to your artwork on Instagram and other social media platforms?
Thats true, selfies in underwear is a new form of self expression, this is the reason I often use this topic in my drawings. You are used to it to see this form of female deception in photography, by drawing it, I develop a mix between two media, which i find interesting to look at. I don’t get the problem some people have with this whole selfie topic. When a woman is taking a picture of herself and she really likes it, feels good by looking at it and decides to share this positive feeling about herself with other people, I think it’s a good thing. It helps women to express themselves and supports them to find self love. With my drawings I want to tell other women: "Just be proud of your selfies, guys"
I love your drawings of females together, you can feel a real sense of friendship. Is female friendships something you like to explore in your art? If so, why?
It’s about friendship, respecting each other, being strong together and intimacy, too. I like it to leave it open, if the females on some of my drawings are friends or lovers because I get many different interpretations about this, which i think is very interesting and exciting.
How do you decide on each of your subjects?
Most of my illustrations are about self love, female appearance and intimacy, which are all subjects I am dealing with in my every day personal life. Drawing about these topics gave me a new way to deal with questions I ask myself regarding to these subjects.
If you could have your illustrations featured anywhere where would they be?
I think it would be so nice to be part of some kind of exhibition some day. I really like it, when my digital illustrations get printed and you can hold them in your hands in the "real world" - it’s another feeling.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
I don’t have a specific person in mind I’d like to collaborate with, but the idea to do so seem exciting.
Do you have any upcoming projects we need to keep an eye out for?
Not yet, but I’m hoping I will get some opportunities soon.
Which other artists are you loving at the moment?
Some artists i love to follow on instagram at the moment are Frances Waite, Polly Nor, @awardsforgoodboys, Sarah Maxwell, Maja Malou Lyse and Carlota Guerrero. And I like the artworks of Frida Kahlo (I’ve even named my cat after her). Her work was a really big inspiration when starting to draw again.
Finally, wheres the best place for our readers to keep up to date with your work?