Vanessa Uher, aka Kunstvibe, talks us through this issue of Spreadshirt’s In the Studio with… She fills us in on how she became a painter and designer, all while travelling the world without losing her human touch.
Hello Vanessa! Please tell us who you really are!
I’m a born and bred Bavarian, having spent a large part of my life in other parts of the world. My travelling bug has taken me to exotic places like the Caribbean and I’ve spent many a winter in Vietnam. My passion for surfing and kite surfing has allowed me to discover some very wild and windy places. I have an old camper van that helps me equip my unfettered mind with the freedom of movement. This year, I had a wonderful trip through Europe that took me to new destinations on a whim. It’s great to wake up in new places and be surprised at how beautiful they are.
What made you discover painting and design?
I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a young child, and I had my first exhibitions at school. I got into design at a relatively late point in life, as I had long rejected working with a computer. When I got started, I immediately had a lot of fun. A canvas painting can be irrevocably destroyed by a wrong stroke, but working with a computer grants you the freedom to work freely and playfully as you can always go backwards. That makes me very happy. This new skill had me quickly receiving requests to create designs for snowboards and skis, which I have been doing for a number of years now. I have developed my own style defined by a blend of classic hand-drawn design with a touch of street art. It’s great that you don’t need a studio or lots of different colors and pigments for this work. You can work from wherever you are.
What drives you onward?
Most of my snowboard and ski designs came about while waiting for wind to pick up on the beach in Vietnam. Many of my t-shirt designs saw the light of day in my cozy campervan, marveling at the sea and vast mountains. I take strength and inspiration from Mother Nature. A day by the sea or a hike in the Alps gives me an incredible amount of energy through experiencing the connection with life. This inspires new images in my head.
Your designs show an impressive range of colors and curves and childlike feelings to dark notions and angular, thoughtful shapes. Where’s all that from?
This diversity is part of my personality, and I give expression to good and bad experiences. If it’s all colorful today, it must be black and white tomorrow. If I’m deeply touched by something today, I want to make people laugh the next day. I often struggle with these contradictions, as I fear people may think I lack a consistent style. But luckily, I get a lot of positive feedback which helps to remain content. As with everything, there’s no shadow without sunshine, and every mountain you find hard to climb will be easy to climb down.
Your designs show many human traits (e.g. in ‘beard and bear’ and ‘hipster and poodle’). How do humans and animals connect?
I don’t plan these things; they are conjured up by my inspiration. In the end, I’m often amazed at the result myself. Animals have always kept me company. My pets and working with animals have taught me a lot about myself and my weaknesses. Animals are always 100% honest and never try to hold back or be someone else. And that’s why it’s really funny when they actually take on these allegedly cool but actually quite stupid human features.
It’s a good thing when a design touches people and provides food for thought. Everyone can learn something from animals. Humans instincts are still strong but mostly buried. For me it’s about making people feel something, and my animals help there.
You beautifully merge hand-drawn and digital elements. At what point do you turn to the computer?
Since I initially wasn’t entirely happy with my digital options, and I didn’t find my graphics tablet very intuitive, I returned to the classic way of drawing and illustrating on paper. I scan the drawing with my flatbed scanner and edit it on the computer for printing. I also work a lot with Illustrator and vectorize my graphics, but I think my real skill is putting a pen to good use. There’s always magic in contrasts, though, and I enjoy tackling both elements. Recently, I got an iPad Pro, and that was probably the best investment in my work. It helps create stuff that looks 100% analogue, but the digital quality is much more professional and perfect for printing. I am very motivated to make use of this opportunity to unearth new territory in the future!
Can we benefit from your slogans and or quotes in everyday life?
Absolutely. Life can suddenly end from one day to the next, so I try to remind myself every day to live in the ‘here and now’. It is important to enjoy the moment and to be grateful for the beauty and luxury we have in our world. It’s easy; you just need to open up and embrace the love that is everywhere.
It’s also important to be authentic and not just try to adjust. Dare, dream and live life to the full. I’m the director of my own film!
How did you discover Spreadshirt? What do you like most about the platform?
When I needed a quick gift for a friend, my flatmate recommended Spreadshirt. I’ve always wanted my own T-shirt label, and I was thrilled when I printed my first hoodie. I then looked at the concept more closely and found that some people earn quite a lot of money with it.
I uploaded a few designs and was surprised to sell something quite quickly on Spreadshirt’s Marketplace. It offers a very simple way to make money.
There are many advantages in this system. These only became clear to me when I received two offers from other printers. I realized that I would lose all of my freedom since their offers meant I would need to take care of production and marketing myself. I could never do that while travelling, and I have no time to deal with customers and all the rest. Here I can just concentrate on being creative.
We’ll leave Kunstvibe to her creative work, thank her for taking the time, and look forward to her new creative crops inspired by further trips!
You have really mean design skills, but you can’t enter the limelight? If you have really special design ideas and you feel like sharing them with our community, you’re on for a winner. Tell us your story and show us what triggers your ideas and the creative process. In our series “In the studio with…“, we’ll let you and your designs hog the limelight properly.