The Fairytale Art of Olga Baumert
last updated 27 April 2018
I love artwork that makes you think — art should be emotive, and it should transport us.
Here, artist Olga Baumert tells me about the inspiration behind her weird and wonderful illustrations.
Olga’s artwork reminds me of books from my childhood: Eerie Fairytales, sometimes with a dark undertone, sometimes other-worldly, and now and again just beautifully nostalgic, homely and warm. I think of artists like Kit Williams, who wrote the very famous Masquerade in the 1970s, which I would spend hours looking at, trying to find the clues, and the famous realist painter, Anthony Green, who’s paintings defy the contraints of a rectangle or square, capturing snippets of his life with perspectives all askew. LM
Your style is really beautiful and makes me think of fairytales and ethereal stories like Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden. It’s visually exciting with detail children often love in book art.
Thank you! The Secret Garden is one of my all time favourites!
Can you tell me about the development of your style, your influences and what inspires you into creating a piece of art work?
My style has been developing for years. I think it is the process of matching what’s in my head and what actually shows on the paper — not an easy task and I think it takes a long time before an artist can recreate their imagined piece in the exact same form, if it ever happens atall. It’s always an imagination vs reality situation and maybe as skills get better the expectations become higher too, maybe it’s a never ending story :)
I like creating images based on my childhood memories, especially warm ones that give me that pleasant feeling of nostalgia. There are still memories that I can vividly imagine from years and years ago. Sometimes it feels a bit like time travel. I am inspired by literature, beauty, nature, dreams, hidden and imaginary worlds.
Stories and books are also great inspiration for me, especially fairytales where the real world is mixed with extraordinary events, and magical, weird creatures — but where the story deals with experiences and events that are familiar to everyone.
I really like this quote from Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales:
“The history, sociology and psychology transmitted to us by fairytales is unofficial — they don’t pay much attention to national and international affairs, they are anonymous and genderless”. — Angela Carter
Do you draw from life, or do you mainly conjure images – like landscapes for example, from your imagination?
I do both. Sometimes I paint something I’ve seen, a place I have been to, or would like to visit; painting that place makes it feel more familiar, so it’s almost like I have been there. I do make up places in my imagination, something I find appealing, or a mixture of different places I meld together. I often paint from memory, and try to recreate places from memory.
Would you be able to explain a bit about your technique and art production? What mediums do you work in?
I usually use gouache paint, sometimes watercolour and acrylic. I also add details with coloured pencils. I’ve always been more attracted to traditional techniques but I started developing my skills in digital illustration as it makes it easier and faster when I work to a tight schedule. I find it quite exciting to learn something new.
Have you always had a career in art – could you tell me a bit about your background?
I’ve always worked towards having a full time career in art; it was always my dream. I went to art school and thought of becoming a painter but I couldn’t really see myself as one after a while. I also studied Jewellery making there, it was fun but I wasn’t passionate enough to make it my career, so I decided to study Graphic Design and Illustration and fell in love with the latter subject. I had some supporting jobs through the years at university, such as cafe work, but I devoted all my time outside the job to develop my illustration portfolio.
Are there any particular artists or people that inspired you into an creative career?
I don’t think I had any particular people or artist that inspired me into an artistic career but there are many people and artists that I find really inspiring.
I liked to draw and paint since I was a little girl. I used to spend a lot of time with my Grandad and he liked painting, so we would just sit together and paint. I remember I had a copy of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, with the most beautiful illustrations. I made my parents read this book to me over and over again and I was just sitting and looking at the illustrations for ages thinking, I would love to be able to draw like that. I’ve always been inspired by art, I love going to museums and exhibitions and I am always drawn to those big art books you find in book stores, with photographs of the old masters and all the incredible historical artists of our time.
I also follow artists and illustrators on social media. I think it’s great to be able to see what other people are up to, and I like it when artist share their process. I have also found some great art supply recommendations!
One of my favourite forms of illustration, is book cover art. I like the fact that the entire book could be contained in one image — that one image should capture the feeling of a book. Also, traditional stories and fairytales, like Grimms’ Fairytales and the classics, they’ve been illustrated so many times over the years, but it’s great fun to be able to put my own twist on it. It is also a great challenge - to think of a new way to illustrate a book cover, but I think that’s the magic of fairytales — every person imagines them in a slightly different way.
If you’d like to see more by Olga you can view her full portfolio here.
If you’d like to work with Olga, you can get in touch via her agent, Fiona Kenny here.
Follow Olga on Instagram