#025 – For the smiles on their little faces; bringing stories to life

Hello! My name is Andrea Ringli. I am a freelance illustrator from Zurich, Switzerland. I illustrate children’s books, posters and cards. I am a proud member of Autillus, the Swiss Society of children’s book authors and illustrators. Friendship and love are two of my main subjects and I love deadpan humour, which you can find in a lot of my pictures. Mainly I work digitally, but I still love using pens, brushes and pencils. Besides drawing, I like gardening, pottery, entomology and riding my bicycle.

I grew up already familiar with brushes and acrylic paint because my mother used to paint on chicken and goose eggs. I know it sounds crazy, but until the 90’s, it was quite popular and in Switzerland there was a huge exhibition held every year with artists from around the world.

Mainly I work digitally, but I still love using pens, brushes and pencils.

When I was a teenager I had to decide what I wanted to learn and study, and I couldn’t decide, because I was interested in so many things. I wanted to become a photographer, biologist, violin-maker, professional gift wrapper, the list goes on. But at last I ended up studying graphic design.

Fast forward to 2001, I went to an exhibition about children’s book illustrators from Switzerland and I realised that illustrating books is an actual career! That’s what I wanted to do! So I started working towards this goal. Unfortunately, living in Switzerland is very expensive, so I had and have to keep my day job to be able to pay rent and other commitments.

The invitation to Dribbble marked a turning point for me. It was the first time I revealed my work and was so surprised at the feedback. I never expected it. I was always too afraid to show my work to anyone because I was afraid of bad feedback. I’ve learned though, that in order to grow and improve, it is essential to step out of your comfort zone.

Friendship and love are two of my main subjects and I love deadpan humour…

So the ball started rolling. I have to say that I’m an introverted person (and pretty shy). When it comes to talking to people, I become so nervous my legs start shaking and for a millisecond, I think I’m going to die. So this platform was perfect for me to get in touch with others slowly.

Because of Dribbble, I had the chance in 2014 to illustrate my first picture book, ‘I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn’ written by Rachel Lyon. Since then, I illustrated several booklets and posters for young readers in the USA. I went twice to Fantasy Basel (the Swiss Comic Con) and received so much positive feedback that I was overwhelmed. I finally broke out of my shell.

I finally broke out of my shell.

Over the years I’ve constantly learned new things. One of my good qualities is my interest in learning. I absolutely love to learn. I took online classes on various platforms and improved in my workflow and adopted techniques. I read books and articles about other illustrators and how they are working. In my free time, I went to bookshops and looked at picture books and tried to learn from them as well. As a self-taught illustrator, I absorbed everything I could. Of course, I struggle sometimes and ask myself why the heck am I doing this?

And you know what? It’s when I get an email from a father of a two year old girl from Scotland who is such a big fan of the picture book I’ve illustrated that he has to read it over and over again to her (even over Skype when he’s away). Or a young woman who has told me that when she looks at my drawings it makes her instantly happy. That’s the most beautiful feedback in the world!

That’s when I realise why I’m doing this.

If I can give out any advice – go outside, talk to people, show them your work. Draw outside, draw things you are not used to drawing. Learn. Learn as much as you can and never stop learning. If you have the chance to go to a fair or a market, do it. Even if you’re scared, it is so important.

And finally – collect happy moments. I keep a box with pictures, letters and emails from all the things I’ve achieved. Believe that your dream is going to happen! I’m proof that it can.

Andrea Ringli is a freelance illustrator from Zurich, Switzerland. She graduated in 2005 as a graphic designer at the Lucerne School of Art and Design. In 2014, she illustrated her first picture book, ‘I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn” for Maverick Arts Publishers. Andrea currently works and lives in Zurich.

Enjoy more of her illustrations online:
andrearingli.ch  /andrearingli  /andrearingli