1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
My name is Petra Braun and I‘m an artist and illustrator settled in the countryside of Austria. I live in a small timber house with my husband and our two cats. I grew up on a farm, close to animals and nature. As a kid I spend the most time drawing, or outdoors, playing with the animals on our farm. It is still very important for me to have a connection with animals and nature.
I‘ve always been passionate about drawing. As a child, I liked drawing all over my schoolbooks, which was definitely more fun than doing homework. Later I went to a school for graphic design and worked a few years as a graphic designer. I was missing drawing and painting at these times, so I decided to study Painting and Graphic Arts at University Linz/Austria, where I did oil paintings, collages and objects.
Actually, I got into an illustration by accident. I always had a studio space in my apartment where I could paint but when I had to move to a hotel for a few months, it wasn‘t possible to take my art supplies with me and to have enough space for painting. In this time, I discovered digital painting and got into illustration. In 2018 I started my career as a fulltime freelance illustrator and worked for a range of clients focused on the editorial market.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
My illustrations are very feminine, elegant, vibrant and playful. My favorite things to draw are strong women, animals and floral elements and plants. I like to transport feelings of balance, warmth and calmness. I love details and textures and harmonious and balanced color combinations. My illustrations are sensitive and atmospheric. But there is also an edgy or dark side you can find in some of my works.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I love to draw digitally on my iPad because I can take it with me, everywhere I like to go. Sitting at my favorite spots, outside in nature or in a nice cafe, and being able to do my job there, makes me happy. Furthermore, it‘s easier to make corrections or change colors, so when I‘m working with clients it simplifies the workflow.
Even though I miss painting analog. The smell of paint and the sound of a pen or brush over paper or textile is very delightful. So I‘m sure I will add this to my artistic process in the future again.
4. What is your artistic process like?
When I work for clients I start with reading the brief or manuscript, doing research, making a mood board and collecting ideas. The first sketches for myself are rough and messy, just to catch first ideas. For this, I prefer to draw on paper or in a sketchbook. After deciding which ideas I will go with, I start with a more detailed pencil sketch and color variations on my iPad. The finished illustration is done digitally.
When I work on personal pieces the sketching process is more quickly and I often just do a rough (on paper or on the I pad) and afterwards, I‘m working directly on the final.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I’m highly inspired by nature. Wilderness, plants, flowers, animals, female bodies, the relationship between humanity and nature, books, movies (I love stories) and Fine Arts are inspiring for my work.
Most artists who are influencing my work are female. My favorite fine artists are Louise Bourgeouse, Kiki Smith and Frida Kahlo, and of course, there are a lot of other illustrators who are very inspiring.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
I think the world would be pretty boring without art. Haha! Imagine no literature, movies, fashion, Fine Arts, … everything fun is gone!
Creative people are changing, shaping and opening the world with their ideas and taste. I‘m very happy to make a career out of something I love, by showing others how I see the world. I think an artist has the ability to find something special and beauty in the little things of everyday life and nature, and also to see ordinary things in a different way.
7. Where did you study?
I studied Fine Arts ( painting and graphics) at the University of Art in Linz / Austria
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
We just built our own little house and studio, so that’s one goal accomplished for my 5 year plan. I would like to do more book and editorial work, also working for different markets (especially for sustainable brands), finding an agent, and being able to spend time working on my own personal projects. Finding a good balance between making art, working for great clients, learning new things and having time for myself.
9. What about in ten?
I hope I can do the things mentioned above. I’m curious which other fields could open for me in the next 10 years. I‘m currently thinking about that.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
To move people in some way. To transport a special feeling or mood which touches other people. I also think it‘s also important to support topics that are close to your heart. So climate activism and feminism are topics you can find in my work.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Every kind of vegan food! I love fruits and vegetables. I can’t resist vegan maki, soba noodles and I love vegan pizza. I’m a sweet tooth as well and addicted to chocolate.
12. Favourite book?
I don’t think I have a favorite book. I love the special atmosphere in the books of Haruki Murakami, so I read some of his books several times. I also like to read graphic novels and biographies.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Which music I like to listen to depends on my mood or the mood I want to get in. I would say it’s mostly new wave, new folk, the 70s, and 80s rock and punk rock, psychedelic rock and electronic music.
14. What are your hobbies?
I love being in nature, like going for walks, hiking and swimming. I try to do a short yoga practice and meditation in the morning. Unfortunately, this isn’t working every day ;-), but I’m trying. It’s so good for my physical and mental health. I like watching movies and series. As a very curious person, I get easily addicted to series, because I just want to know what‘s happening next. Haha! I’m the classic marathon watcher! It’s also very important for me to spend time with my family and friends, and to have some cozy me-time while cuddling with my cats.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
When I was a kid I always wanted to be a vet, but back then I didn’t know drawing could be a profession too. In retrospect, I don’t think this wouldn‘t have been the right career choice for me. I can hardly give myself eye-drops, not to mention a surgery on a living animal.
Actually, I can’t imagine myself not doing anything artistic. So I think it would still be another artistic or creative field. I also love to be my own boss.