Hailing from the small village of Wagrain in Austria, Kathrin Steinbacher is currently based in London where she is completing her studies in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University.
It's a far cry from her hometown in the middle of the alps in Salzburg, which is "full of cows, people who are wearing Lederhosen" and the odd yodelling cry that would echo through town. But she wouldn't have it any other way.
Dividing her time between summer in Austria and London every other time of the year, Steinbachers' "two lives are pretty different", but she loves it!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kathrin Steinbacher and I am currently studying Illustration and Animation at Kingston University in London. I am really clumsy and I always spill food on myself.
It seems like I don't have my hands under control! I am like a baby when they start noticing that they have hands and that they actually belong to them haha :)
I am always afraid of knocking out my teeth when I am climbing over wobbly steps.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small village in the middle of the alps in Austria called Wagrain. I like to yodel, wear a Dirndl (traditional Austrian dress) all the time, drink Schnapps... oh and I live on the top of a mountain.
That's actually not true but I like the stereotypes people have in their minds and I like to play with them. Indeed Austrian stereotypes are full of folklore. My friend Hannah came over a couple of weeks ago and said "Oh my god Kathrin, you are so typically Austrian".
I guess I was always an extreme person and I like the opposite. I now have an amazing and interesting life in London and explore how different people can be.
London is so multi-cultural and I love the idea of creating a place where all human beings - no matter what cultural background they have - can live together. And it seems as if I have found the perfect place to explore my creativity and my interests.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
My ambition for the future is to create narratives with the imagination of children. To be honest I am always worrying when I think about life post-graduation!
There are so many things I would like to do. I would love to work as a freelance illustrator & animator and my dream is to publish a children's book one day. I've always found it a bit surreal to think I could make a living with illustration & animation.
What does your art mean to you?
Using my art as an instrument to communicate something, to make people happy, or to point out existing needs people have and to make people rethink would be lovely. The spirit indeed is willing and I am a stubborn person.
If you had all creative freedom, what would you do?
I would start painting all the buildings in my home town. Austrians are always very complying with the rules; everybody is exactly on time, everything has to be tidy, nobody wants to attract attention or create excitement, every building has to fit in well with the scenery. What would happen if somebody started painting things on buildings?
Whose your ideal client?
I guess someone who would let me have enough creative freedom but is also trying to participate in the process. Someone who has a clear idea of what they want is also very important. I always love to work with people who have a little glimpse of insanity and madness.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Traveling is a very important source of inspiration for me. I come from a very traditional Austrian family and I have always been fascinated by the traditions and practices of people from other cultures and faiths that are different from my own.
Also my peers inspire me a lot. I am always so enthusiastic and amazed about how talented everyone is. Of course I admire a lot of different artists like Marlene Dumas and Egon Schiele for example. Also children inspire me!
Everything seems so special for small children. They are hugely enthusiastic about really simple things which are uninteresting to most adults and may even seem entirely invisible.
Sometimes I feel like a small child, indeed it is one of the loveliest feelings I know. One has a different view of things, more beautiful and bursting with curiosity in the constant search to discover the unusual.
Have those inspirations changed over time?
Yes indeed. My inspirations are constantly changing. I was quite inspired by pop art two years ago and now I don't even like pop art that much anymore. The way I draw has transformed massively over the last 2 years as have the things that I like or inspire me.
In my past, I was always used to expressing myself with computer software and I never really drew things by hand. When I applied for Foundation at Kingston I had to start drawing in order to set up a Portfolio. It was quite decorative and I didn't really know how to start and I was overwhelmed by the different materials.
On Foundation I have learned to value my own drawings without thinking too much or without trying to be someone else. Because my tutors really liked my drawings (not at the beginning!) and this really helped me to be more self confident.
I guess I am not one of those typical illustrators who have been drawing for their whole life. I literally stared 3 years ago and now I can't imagine life without it!
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I come from a graphic design background, and was working as a creative assistant for an Austrian newspaper before I started an Illustration/Animation degree.
So I guess I would work as a graphic designer somewhere. I also love the alps and the mountains and I could also imagine myself spending my whole life working as a dairymaid on a top of a mountain.
I also went to school for economic professions and made my A Levels there. I was working for a bank for one year and it was horrible. I think I was the worst bank employee ever!
Forcing a creative person to work in a bank is an interesting experience... actually I forced myself. But I guess sometimes you need to do something you hate before you realise what you really enjoy.
The last great book I read was… "Maus", a graphic novel by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor.
My favourite film is… Hmm, that's a hard one to decide but if I had to narrow it down to my top 3 I would say the Notebook (cheesy right?), We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Life of David Gale.
Right now I’m listening to… Fire from Kasabian.
After a hard days work I like to unwind by… Climbing a mountain or cooking & eating good food. Unfortunately I can't climb a mountain here in England so I am constantly eating instead!