RHYTHM JUNE CAPULE COLLECTION
Geometry in Motion:
In Conversation with Julia Schimautz
Our response to digital art is being defined by the influences of postmodernist techniques. Since the uprising of vector graphics, and its almost scientific precision, artists have been searching for ways to maintain elements of humanity in their work. With AI creation on the rise and pixel-perfect editing software at the world’s fingertips, imperfection is becoming a symbol of authenticity among creatives.
Since the 1980s risograph production has been captivating the print world with its one-colour print process and vintage, band poster aesthetic — a dying out practice influencing a new wave of designers. The riso technique combines elements of screenprinting and photocopying to produce its zesty style turning heads for many print artists looking to reclaim a sense of tangibility, one such artist being our friend Julia Schimautz.
Berlin based graphic designer, Julia Schiamautz, is a multidisciplinary creator among the leaders of modern riso enthusiasts. Guided by her love for the misregistration of print, the Austrian born artist uses her worldly experience to invent her unique approach to the print form — harnessing her experience from print houses around the planet to inform her distinctive approach.
We caught up with Julia just as she moved into her brand-new studio and considering her forthcoming collaboration with Rhythm to see how she is doing.
Hi Julia. How are you? What have you been up to?
Hey Jake, thanks for having me! I just got back from Cape Town, and moved into a new studio straight away. It’s been crazy, but also very exciting. And we’ve been working on such fun and interesting projects, so I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new year.
You just moved into a new studio. How is that going?
Oh it’s been amazing! My design studio, DTAN Studio, now has its own little space. It’s located in Kreuzberg and surrounded by small coffee shops, bars, and creative spaces. We have a beautiful big window and it’s nice to see the busyness of the streets, and the world walking past. I’m excited for the coming months to see how the space will shape itself and our our work.
We came across your work on social media, your animations jumped off the page, and when we researched your profile further, we really resonated with your creative approach — blending the past with the future. Has social media helped you become a globally recognised artist?
I wouldn’t say I’m a globally recognized artist, but it definitely has helped me to get noticed and to connect with clients as well as with creatives. Social Media is a great way to share your work and connect - of course it has its own issues, but it’s amazing to use as a source of inspiration and for meeting and connecting with others. I’m constantly blown away by what other people create.
I use InDesign a lot, so what a pleasant surprise it was to learn that the new feature art in the loading window is yours. Congrats! How was working with Adobe, and how did that come about?
I got an email out of the blue! It’s been one of my favorite experiences and the team I worked with is wonderful. We had regular feedback rounds and it gave me some insight how bigger and established companies such as adobe work. I always had a boost of motivation and inspiration when leaving those calls. What I loved most about the project was that I was asked to create a physical zine showcasing riso. This and playing with color and layout, and truly showcasing what InDesign can be used for.
You are a risograph printing expert. For our audience who might not know what it is, are you able to explain the riso-printing process?
Riso, originally from Japan, is a stencil printing system. The printer kind of looks like a copier machine, but ink within a spinning drum is forced through a stencil and left to absorb onto paper. It was originally used for low quality office copies, so there is a lot of uncertainty of outcome in using this medium, creating bold and exciting space for reimagination. I love how much room there is for experimentation.
Most your work uses geometric shapes and, particularly recently, animation. It is like poetry — simple yet layered at the same time. How do you keep your work in this space unique and inspiring?
Having fun and lots of experimenting. I like to try new things all the time, and mix the worlds of analog and digital. I feel like I have hundreds of ideas, I want to keep evolving and growing.
Talk to me about the animations. How do you do it? And, what first led you to experimenting with print animations?
I used to work at Dream Press in Cape Town, which is a riso and publishing studio run by Candice Ježek. She’s been my mentor throughout the years and one of the most creative people I know - a genius in bookmaking and riso printing. Whenever we did test prints for clients, I would pop in some small animation frames, and I’ve been hooked since.
Of your designs a few stand out to me, notably the Going Nowhere Slowly and Rotating Halftones — there seems to be a story, or an artistic exploration in your work. What are you trying to say/demonstrate through your art?
Going nowhere slowly was such a fun collaboration with Ines Soutschka, from Cult Wife. Combining our skills in animation and riso, our aim was to create an artwork that is an animation and frame-based without being too obvious. Glancing at it, you see a poster as a whole, and then when looking closer you can see the small frames and walking men.
Rotating Halftone was an exploration of making a still image, taken by Francis Broek, move only through rotating halftones, I love the results and how the small dots look like they are dancing.
I personally love the coin animation; it complements our Rhythm aesthetic. Do you have any personal favourite works?
I really like stereoscope, one of my animations for Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys. I think it opens doors to mixing analog and digital, and gives an idea of the possibilities in that. This is definitely something I want to explore further and experiment more with.
I hate this questions but … what is your source of inspiration. What is your creative process, from conception to final piece?
Oh I love this question, I’m so inspired by the creative industry. Being on social media and seeing what people create inspires me endlessly and gives me a thrill - some people are just super smart. Online magazines such as It’s Nice That and Eye on Design showcase great design and the thoughts and ideas behind it. I’ve also got a great collection of books, and Japanese graphic magazines from the 50s-2000s.
Without giving too much away, are you working on any big projects now?
Obviously I’m very excited about the project we have worked on together!
I’ve worked on my first record cover which was always a dream project of mine. I’m working on a few projects with musicians that I’m big fans of, so there are lots of exciting things going on!
Were there any artists you idolised while starting out? And did you collect old school comic books?
Mitsuo Katsui and his use of color and gradients have always inspired me. I think his works are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Also since seeing Rapapawn Studio’s riso animations featured on we transfer, I just instantly fell in love with them and riso. Not necessarily comics but anything that’s pretty; I always loved going to second hand books shops and collecting old design books and anything that has cool images in it.
I want your art on my walls. Where can I buy it?!
When I was researching for this interview, I found a bunch of YouTube tutorials on how to give your art a riso print effect on Photoshop. Apart from the artistic process, what makes a riso print stand out from a Photoshopped wannabe?
Before I started at Dream Press, I also went through all of these Youtube videos haha. I think the biggest part that is missing are the natural imperfections. I don’t like the idea of solely working through the computer, as you are then in charge at every step and no surprises can really happen. Of course, not everyone has easy access to a riso printer, but I believe there are other ways to create with surprising outcomes. Like creating animations using lino cut, or for example, I used my inkjet printer for the New Eyes music video (https://juliaschimautz.com/New-Eyes). I mimicked the process of riso, printing each color after the other and moving the paper a little to create these imperfections.
Before we wrap up, I must know, who are you having dinner with: Anuszkiewicz or Albers?
I love that you asked me that - Anuszkiewicz!! His use of color and shape is fantastic, and so captivating! I’ve been studying his work for hours and hours on end.
And finally, who are you listening to at the moment?
Berlin has a great music scene to offer; so I’ve been listening to Wombed, The Underground Youth, Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys, Goblyns, and many more. I mean, one of my favorite things is to work with musicians!
Thank you, Julia.
Julia continues to pursue her work through her new studio DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW in Berlin, Germany. You can follow Julia on Instagram: @juliakatarzyna_
DISCOVER JUNE CAPSULE — DESIGNED IN COLLABORATION WITH JULIA SCHIMAUTZ