© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

Germany-based illustrator and storyteller Anna Knopf creates delightfully snug worlds in her atmospheric artwork populated by people, plants, and members of the animal kingdom.

What could be better than cosying up in a comfy chair, stroking a puppy and reading a book surrounded by flourishing house plants? Sounds like heaven, right? Don’t worry if you can’t do this for real, though, because Anna Knopf’s delightful illustrations will take you there.

Beautifully realised with soft colour palettes and believable backgrounds, Anna’s artwork offers a blissful escape from the stresses of the world. But it isn’t the comfy-looking worlds of her imagination that are the star of the show. “The main focus of my illustrations is mostly on the characters,” she tells Creative Boom. “Detailing characters in a scene is the easiest way for me to recreate my emotions or memories.

“When I have an idea for an illustration, I let my mind play with which character would it fit the most – which hairstyle, which clothes, which colours and most importantly: what mood,” she adds. “A character can show a lot of emotions, even when they don’t have a big smile or tears on their face.”

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

But the main character of Anna’s story is Anna herself. A lifelong creative, she’s always known she wanted to follow an artistic career. “I always drew as a kid – sometimes on paper, sometimes on walls! – and when I finished school, there was only one right path: to study what I love and make my hobby my profession.”

At university, Anna experimented with various art styles, but they were always focused on telling stories through illustration. The most important lesson she learned had less to do with technique and more with outlook. “I learned to stop comparing myself to other creatives and have confidence in what I do,” she reveals. “Today, I work as a freelance illustrator, and I can’t imagine myself doing something different!”

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, as she cultivates such a relaxing vibe, Anna’s biggest inspiration is the “grumpy 24/7” genius, Hayao Miyazaki. Anna is drawn to the mastermind’s lovely characters and the stories he invents that warm viewers’ hearts. “He combines emotional topics with his love for nature, inspiring many people. He is just a legend, and I hope he returns from retirement again and again.”

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

Elsewhere, other artistic inspirations include the magical worlds and colour palettes of Beatrice Blue, the textured work and sketchbooks of Gosia Herba and the creepy illustrations of Teo Skaffa: “With just one illustration he can create a whole story and a unique world! I hope he brings out a picture book sometime in the future.”

The main goal of Anna’s illustrations is to show scenes and situations everyone can relate to, such as settling down while feeling tired or coffee-induced overthinking. However, the other stars of her art are animals. “I often include animals in my illustrations because I think they are a great way to underline a character’s emotions,” she explains. “So, for example, a dog can create a cosy vibe, a lion can be a majestic companion or crows can create a creepy scene.”

However, deciding which animal is her favourite to draw proves to be an impossible question for Anna. “I love them all,” she says. “But elephants will always have a special place in my heart. They always seem so wise and friendly; I could draw them a hundred times and wouldn’t be bored!”

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

DAnna’s perfectly balanced colour palettes draw all of the elements of her illustrations together. The result of years of experimentation, these palettes have been through various guises, including more vibrant and higher contrast colours. “I always go back to the softer version,” she says. “I just love how the whole illustration becomes cosy and warm.”

At the moment, Anna is working with an unnamed Australian author to help illustrate their new book. And even though it’s early days, she’s already excited about bringing the characters and story to life. “Getting a client’s trust for such a big and personal project is always special and makes me happy,” she enthuses.

Part of the thrill lies in the fact that Anna’s proudest achievement so far is a personal children’s book she created for her master’s degree, and it sounds like this current commission is only building on that success. “It was the first whole book I illustrated and wrote myself,” she concludes. “Seeing the finished product at the end just made me realise I wanted to get more into children’s illustration and create whole stories!”

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

© Anna Knopf

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