If you have been following my blog, you will know I am a big fan of illustration and in particular, fashion illustration. I met a very stylish man by the name of Bendix Bauer at an exhibition recently, and upon him giving me his business card, I decided to take a look at his website when I returned home. What I saw completely blew me away- I absolutely love Bendix’s body of work– the vast collection of subject matters which ranged from fashion to real-life people to animals and much more.
His client list encompasses an impressive range of commercial, editorial and creative clients like- Hugo Boss, Swarovski, T-Mobile, Glamour, Adidas, BMW Group/MINT, Saatchi & Saatchi and GQ Germany.
So I was elated when Bendix agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to meet me for a coffee, where I proceeded to pick his brains, and here is what he had to say-
MFSL- When did you know you wanted to pursue illustration as a career?
Bendix- I began drawing as a child, but I didn’t know I wanted to be an ‘illustrator’ till much later. Initially I was torn between graphics and illustration and I studied Visual Communications and Illustration in Hamburg. After my studies, I turned to Corporate design and packaging. Then three years later after I worked for some agencies, there was a huge economic crisis and the company I was with made everyone redundant. And that made me realise that my heart beated for illustration and this pushed me to not only work as a freelancer but I decided to change from graphic to illustration.
MSFL- When you drew as a child, did you get support for your talent?
Bendix- I didn’t only draw, I did other things like build landscapes, knit puppets and other creative things and my family and friends of my family were the ones who witnessed this and first mentioned that I had talent. I think it’s very important that if one is good at something that other people recognise it because that encourages you to work more and do more.
MFSL- Do you have a particular signature style?
Bendix- If you look at my website, you will see that I don’t have a signature style, in fact I have 3 distinct styles- colour pencil drawing, line art and shades or silhouettes. I don’t have these range of styles by coincidence, I have them because of two reasons; one is that I can do more than one style of drawing, so I like to show that and not limit myself. Secondly, even though from a marketing point of view, being known for one style is good, from an economical point of view, if you have a range of styles, it means you can do different types of work.
MFSL- Having looked at your illustrations, what I love about your illustrations like- Brothers, Summer Dreaming and Swarovski Crystal Energy- is your great use of colour. Do you experiment with colour consciously in your work?
Bendix- I’m very inspired by the Impressionist era so that reflects in my work.
MFSL- And what would you say was your favourite subject matter to illustrate?
Bendix- Human beings, I really like to draw people, especially their faces and I love to illustrate facial expressions, and to try to show what their person is thinking or feeling. I believe this is what gives pictures a soul. I’m an emotional person so I like to make emotional pictures (laughs), I don’t know…
MFSL- When did you have your big break as an illustrator?
Bendix- That was with my first Adidas job, a friend of mine was working on an Adidas look book and the plan initially was to have a photographer work on the opening pages of the look book. But they didn’t like the end result of that, so they decided to switch to illustration; and it was at that point my friend recommended me. At that point I was still very new but after that job, things took on from there.
MFSL- That’s a good story, sometimes it boils down to luck and timing. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Bendix (laughs)- That’s a good question. Personally, every job is a highlight…
MFLS (cuts in)- Awwww….
Bendix- Yes it is especially with the jobs I get when I think initially that I can’t handle or if there is a tight deadline. There is a popular misconception that we illustrators just sit in our studios drinking coffee with music on and we are just drawing away. But often, there is a lot of time pressure and you have to do your creative best. So with those jobs if I manage to stick to the brief and submit the work on time- then I’m really proud of myself, and that’s my highlight, that I was able to do it.
MFSL- Of course, and professionally?
Bendix- In the last two years, I began working with fashion brands and in particular I began to do patterns and prints. With the first company I did this with, I did prints for their accessories- scarves and belts- and these pieces sold really well. And after that I began to do a small production of printed scarves which I sell online and in Berlin, I sell in my friends’ shop, Hecking and I also sell in Munich. The scarves have actually sold out in both stores, so I am very proud of that.
MFSL- How often will you do a new collection for your scarves?
Bendix- I will do a limited edition once a year.
MFSL- Has Berlin influenced your work in any way?
Bendix- Well, I believe for a creative, where you live will always influence your work because you are constantly looking around at people, places and so on. I believe Berlin helps to free the mind and this has influenced my work. After my studies in Hamburg I came to Berlin, now Hamburg was more conservative and quiet; and coming to Berlin made me more self-confident and willing to take more risks.
MFSL- How so?
Bendix- Well, for example when it comes to getting clients, the more conservative way is to approach them with your portfolio and then wait for the phone to ring but now I prefer to be more pro-active, so for example with the scarves. I realised that I liked to do patterns, and after doing print scarves for the fashion company, I thought to myself, ‘What else can I do in this area?’, and this made me approach various brands offering to do print scarves for them. I think using your initiative is very important in this business.
MFSL- What do you love about Berlin?
Bendix- I would say the fact that one can have a very individual way of life here. And the historical background of Berlin- no other place in the world was divided like Berlin was and as I have lived here for about ten years; I have got to see the city grow and develop as the ‘New Berlin’.
MFSL-What advice would you give a young Bendix regarding illustration?
Bendix- That’s a good question! I would tell my younger self to follow his instincts and intuition.
MFSL- Now, what was behind the Big Swinging Dicks of Fashion?
Bendix- That title was actually made up by the blog that featured the story. The concept originated from a six-page story I was commissioned to do for the debut issue for German’s Horst magazine. Actually remember when you asked me what was the highlight of my career? Well, I forgot about this one. Last year when the issue came out, the magazine sent it to the press offices of all the designers who I illustrated so Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and so on.
And Jean Paul Gaultier wrote back to me, telling me how much he loved it and asked me for a price to buy it!
MFSL- Wow! That’s great, not only that he loved it but the fact that he was willing to pay for it. Normally in fashion and most things, people like to get things for free. And lastly, I see you have done illustrations of 90’s Supers like Claudia and Cindy. Who is and was your favourite model of that era?
Bendix- Linda Evangelista.
MFSL (groans)- Oh God, everyone say’s that, it’s so cliché!
Bendix (laughs)- Oh you don’t like my answer, I can change it…
MFSL- No don’t, it was honest.
Bendix- Yes, well to me she was the best. To me she really stood out of the other Supers at that time who were more classically beautiful.
Shop Bendix’s fabulous scarves here
All illustrations credited to Bendix Bauer