Artistic talent is in Nina’s blood. The illustrator better known as Treechild, who now calls Switzerland her home, inherited a natural feel for colours and forms from her artist father. She takes her inspiration for her life-affirming creations from animals, books, and the beauty of nature. We sat down with her to find out more about her inspiration, childhood dreams, and what she does to let off some steam.
You and your family moved to Switzerland a few years ago. What about the country and culture inspires you?
I emigrated here from Germany with my family in 2016 for a few years and was enthusiastic about this beautiful country from my very first visit. The people here are so incredibly polite, nobody angrily honks their horn in traffic for no reason, nobody pushes their way past on the streets, and the kids here are taught polite manners from an early age. The stunning nature, high mountains, unique vegetation, and sky-blue lakes, which we discover on our hiking tours, all really inspire me.
What was your dream job as a kid?
My childhood dream kept changing from year to year, from zookeeper, vet and art restorer to a superstar’s manager. But one thing was clear early on—I always wanted to be my own boss.
Tell us about your childhood. How did it influence the artist you are today?
I spent a lot of my childhood out in nature. We built entire houses out of sticks, twigs and other natural materials in the forest. I enjoyed carving wood and loved playing with conkers. Aside from nature, my father also had a great influence on me. He’s also an artist (and musician), and took me along to numerous exhibitions and art museums.
I still remember when we went on a school trip to the Deutsches Museum. I knew it inside out and acted as a guide for our class. That impressed my art teacher a lot back then. I also always went to my dad’s own vernissages. Lots of interesting guests, artists, musicians, and oddballs soon became part of my everyday life.
You seem drawn to the skies. What fascinates you about the moon, sun, and stars?
I love looking up at the sky—whether it’s watching the sun rise and set during the day or glancing up at the stars and moon by night. From an early age, the skies have always had a calming, almost meditative effect on me. There’s so much beauty to discover up there. Every day and night differs in colour, form and intensity, just like the motifs in my paintings.
Where do you find the quotes you include in your designs?
I often find inspiration in interesting books or online when searching for certain keywords. The quotations that end up on my designs are always positive—I avoid sad or negative expressions. I’ve got a positive attitude towards life and that’s exactly what I want to convey in my illustrations.
Describe a typical day in your workspace.
Since I’m a self-employed, three-time mum who works from home, you can imagine that not everything always goes according to a strict plan and timeframe. But when I draw in the office, the kids know not to disturb me. I don't hear anyone knocking anyway, as I’ve almost got some loud music on. I produce my best work when listening to good music.
Where do you go when you need a break from everyday life?
Breaks just to clear your head are extremely important. You can get your mind in a jumble when you try to realise, draw, paint or produce lots of different ideas—your brain overheats. My solution is jogging. I run three times a week and it’s a huge relief. Breathing deeply, feeling the sun and the wind on your skin—after a good hour, my mind and soul are free again. It’s a great feeling and I love it.
What have you always dreamed of but not yet done?
I’ve been an ambitious photographer for over 15 years and would love to work on a film like “The Revenant” as a set photographer. Other than that, my husband and I dream of one day travelling the world, when all three kids have left the nest. We’d travel with just a few belongings, consciously doing without all those things you think you need in life. And maybe build a tiny house, somewhere in Norway or on the Canadian coast.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
I'm magically drawn to foxes and owls. The fox because of his watchful eyes, quick thinking, and shy nature. The owl beautifully and nobly gazes down from the branches of this world, observing the night through different eyes, swooping silently despite its large size. They’re truly beautiful and fascinating animals.
Text: Ina Schulze
Translation: Nicholas Potter