The “Same Thoughts” campaign launched by Steffen Kraft raises issues that affect all of us, but do not necessarily engage us in doing the right thing. And what is the right thing? Although the campaign leaves it free to interpretation, the purpose is more than clear and straightforward.
What can you tell us about your beginnings in illustration?
I studied communication design in Wiesbaden, Germany. However, in my studies I never had the goal to someday be an illustrator, I actually always wanted to work in advertising, as an art director making creative campaigns. So, after my degree I founded an advertising agency. But, after 8 years I was tired of creating stuff for companies I didn’t support ethically. In the meantime, I started to do illustrations just for fun, and this became my springboard to a new life. I left my agency and focused my work on illustrations and designs that include the topics of sustainability, culture, and education. This change has made me deeply happy.
Most of your illustrations seek to provoke a reaction in people based on fundamental values that are absent. How did this come about?
When I walk the streets or when I listen to people, a lot of filtered images occupy my thoughts. It’s easy to see all the inequality, injustice or suffering if your mind is open to that. My passion is to create art with a message, to create pictures that are difficult to put into words.
If you had to define a target audience you want to provoke, who specifically are you talking to?
It’s easy to reach people who are interested in your work or who share the same attitude, but it would be better to reach all the other people to make them think. On the other hand, nobody is perfect. We sometimes need quick reminders that it is good to be kind. One of my art pieces was part of an exhibition in Moscow, near the Kremlin. It was a piece about Covid-19, so I took a face mask and drew a girl on it and it looked like she was jumping rope with the rubber bands. Not all of my work is political, but sometimes I hope my art is like the Trojan Horse…so people start by liking my non-provoking art and then they discover all the other stuff. As my art was hanging in Moscow, I had hoped that Putin would see some of my works, but obviously that didn’t happen.
How long does it take to create a piece like yours?
As soon as I have an idea I am very impatient. The idea has just to come out. I don’t care a lot about details or scenery, I just want to focus the drawing on the essentials. Most of my illustrations are done in thirty minutes to two hours.
Could you share the creative process from A to Z?
The most important thing for me is the idea. Sometimes it’s a flash of inspiration, and sometimes it takes weeks to let an idea grow in my mind. I always do some rough sketches as part of the brainstorming process. That helps me to organize my thoughts. After that I start drawing on my computer, and most of my work is done with the mouse, not a tablet.
A lot of colleagues laugh about my approach to working, but I love to draw with the mouse. In my earlier years I never knew when my illustration was finished, but I realized that it destroys the picture if you continue drawing. So, now I stop at a very early stage, step back, and consider if it is really necessary to add anything else to the piece.
Same Thoughts series, by Steffen Kraft