Stephan Rausch introduces his own blend of textural minimalism
With a style all of his own Aberdeen based illustrator Stephan Rausch takes some time out to muse over his creative journey so far, sources of inspiration, and more...
Aside from working as an illustrator, I’m also in the final year of a business degree. I have had to try to balance both in the last few years. I’ve worked as a graphic designer in the past, which explains some of the typography in my work. My first creative discovery was music. I grew up with a ton of music and admired the artwork on the records I owned. My interest in the arts came much later in life. I took courses in pencil drawing, even a course in architectural drawing, while working in event management, and doing graphic design assignments on the side. Eventually I decided to undertake a business degree at the University of Aberdeen in 2014. About this time I discovered the world of illustration, and decided to put my creative skills to use. My aim was to be guided by passion, do it because I love it. I tend to work in a variety of muted colours and textures, focusing on minimalist line work. It has somewhat of a modern retro vibe.
Illustration is a great discipline to work in, alongside a community of creatives where no rules are required to be innovative.
I currently live in Aberdeen, Scotland, and my studio is basically where I live. I try to keep my creative space simple and minimal. It consists of a desk with pencils, a scanner & my Macbook. I also have a tablet that I sometimes use to draw. I often use it when developing new ideas, saving sketches on the go. Aberdeen is a small city with typically bad weather, so it can feel a bit empty and that there is no active creative scene, unlike in Glasgow. But I find this also gives me space to think, and removes a certain competitive pressure. It allows me to focus on myself which is always good.
I try to keep an organized and clean studio space, with a few framed prints. I’ve just picked one up of “Stranger Things“. I also have a shelf which has a small cactus and a porcelain bulldog, as I can’t have a real one right now. I’ve been considering getting a Boston Terrier or French Bulldog when ready.
My work has changed dramatically in the last two years. I’ve recently “revamped” my style, create a new chapter for myself if you will. Before that my work was just black, and mainly done in pen and ink, often with botanical elements. It was a short-lived creative chapter, though I have sold a couple prints. It was fun to do, but it never made me happy and it was not exactly what I wanted to do long-term. I wanted to create ideas and do something that came more naturally. I could not be happier with what I am doing now. It’s a great fresh start!
My favourite thing to do – apart from illustration – is singing, learning new recipes, and writing. I’ve been drafting ideas for a possible book, based on the story of a person I once met on a train ride in Chicago. Their story was really deep and affecting. The way he told the story felt cinematic, and it got me thinking about bold classic typography. I generally love staying creative in all areas of my life. I also love helping people. There’s an organization called Heartsupport, that focuses on helping people struggling with mental health issues, addiction, and eating disorders. I think philanthropy and altruism is very important. I designed a poster for Heartsupport, to highlight World Mental Health Day not too long ago.
One day I’d love to re-create some sort of narrative driven design project based on 80’s pop culture. I work with a lot of muted colours and am inspired by retro design, so it would be great fit. The visual imagery and cinematography of that time is just out of this world. I’d collaborate with all kinds of directors and buy all kinds of props from that era, after hitting a bunch of thrift stores. Think “Stranger Things” meets “E.T.”
I mainly work with Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator. Before I starting to work digitally, I tend to write the idea out on my tablet, and then start sketching pencil versions, until I get it “right”. I then scan the pencil drawing and do the rest digitally, including textures. Sometimes I may scan in a textured paper to act as a background. I also like taking pictures when I am out and about. There are certain objects or corners of a room that I photograph and then include in my work. I also photograph textured doors and walls. I often use them as references and points of inspiration.
I really admire the artwork by Rob Sato for Young The Giant’s latest album “Home Of The Stranger.” The aesthetic is simple and organic, yet very playful. It also matches the narrative of the record. I’d definitely recommend anyone to look at that album cover, and Rob Sato’s work (of course, check out the music as well, as it is a great record).
The most exciting project I’ll be working on imminently is an upcoming exhibition taking place February 2018. It’s a collaboration with a Greek artist called Constantine. He’s a phenomenal portrait painter. It will focus on the four popular sneaker brands today (Adidas, Vans, Nike & Converse). For my part I’ll be focusing on designing shoes, and have each one reflect the community it’s shaped culturally (skateboarding, football, basketball and music). Constantine will then paint iconic wearers of these shoes. I’m also in talks to create a couple of fun gig posters for some Scottish musical artists in the area. Lastly, I’m looking for publishers to do more editorial work.