Interview with Heiko Müller

Today our guest is Heiko Müller, artist and illustrator from Hamburg, Germany. Within his drawings and paintings there often is a fairy tale like and dreamy atmosphere – what – which is not surprising, if you’re a living right next to a big forest.

In our interview he told us that he finds his inspiration – among other things – by staring at a cleaning rag and which difficult paths led him to becoming an artist.

Why and when did you start making art?
I had the idea of making money with art and design when I was still a child. But my parents convinced me that you have to die first in order to become famous with art. I didn’t want that, of course, so I thought about becoming a drafter. But at High School art became more and more important for me, so I decided to study Fine Art. During the year I had planned to enrol at university, however, both my parents died – my spirit broke to pursue such an uncertain path, so instead I started studying communication design.

I quickly realised that I don’t fit into this, so I changed to studying illustration after two years. I was able to find my style there, and at the end of my studies first signs of success became visible – I had exhibitions and won a prize. At the same time, however, I was frustrated by the momentariness of this sucess: You win a prize, celebrate – and the next day already nobody cares for it anymore. This led to me giving up art and earning money with screendesign. This lasted for seven years. Then I realised that I was spending more and more time drawing pictures with photoshop. Two of my friends suggested planning an exhibition with my work to Galerie Feinkunst Krüger.

And the gallery accepted, the exhibition was a great success. I was flattered and started asking several Lowbrow-galleries in the US whether they would like to exhibit my work. Answers were positive until they realised that I was making digital pictures. I was devastated, because I knew that I could paint and draw quite decently. So I decided to paint several of my creations with oil on wood. That was six years ago. Six years with more than 48 exhibitions worldwide and about 80 publications. I did never dream of that as a child.

What kind of art do you make?
At the moment it’s mid-sized pictures (80x80cm – 100x100cm) on canvas. Most of the time I start painting with acrylic colours. Actually I’m not that good at painting with acrylic colours, but that’s what excites me. My inability forces me to abandon my perfectionism in order to work more freely. In the end, however, I always change for oil to finish my paintings.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From the forest in front of my door, the deer in my neighbours’ garden, the fields next to the A1 between Hamburg and Lübeck, memories from childhood, the curiosity of my children, flickr, Google, the art of my favourite artists, the art of artists I hate because they have painted pictures I would like to have painted, horror movies, movies about Jesus, fairy tale films from the GDR, old childrens books, Bunter Kinder Kosmos, zoos, art catalogues, my students, exhibitions, dark cellars, abandoned buildings, old towers and huts, perches, travels, walks, jogging, Twin Peaks, concerts, light, shadow, rain, sun, music, staring at my pictures, staring at other pictures, staring at cleaning cloth, etc….

What does your usual workday look like?
There are several options. This is due to my having three jobs – freelance artist, lecturer for painting at HAW Hamburg and then I have a little media agency as well.

How do you spend a perfect sunday?
With my family.

What is your favourite taste of chocolate?
fischkopp Hamburg chocolate by Schokovida and Galle & Jessen pålægschokolade

Show me your favourite artwork (from your own collection or another artist)
It’s the “Portrait of a young woman” by Petrus Christus. It is exhibited in a little and dark room within the Gemäldegalerie Berlin. You cannot miss it though, due to its magical appeal.

Whom should we interview next?
Patrick Fazar

If you could have coffee with a famous artist – dead or alive – whom would you choose?
Several years ago I was sitting in a Café in Hamburg when I recognised that Peter Ustinov was sitting right next to me – I liked that! I would love to experience the same with Cy Twombly. But I wouldn’t like sitting at the same table, I would be far to excited. Some time ago I was invited to meet Jeff Koons. I declined, however – I’m sure I wouldn’t have managed to utter one complete sentence…

What is your philosophy of life?
Don’t force anything.

Thanks, Heiko!