This post is brought to you by our friends at Mailchimp
Mailchimp champions authenticity, originality and expressiveness—we believe building a successful brand and business requires staying true to yourself. By creating unique narratives using exaggerated proportions, off-kilter concepts and unexpected combinations, our signature illustration system celebrates the idea of individual expression and imperfection. And in this series on PRINT, we celebrate the brilliant creatives who use their visual alchemy to help us reach all-new heights.
Franz Lang’s illustrations sing with life; his line is electric with motion and energy, and his body of work exudes charm in spades. We began working with the London-based Lang two years ago after observing his strong embrace of concept and metaphor, as well as his skills with complementing materials.
His approach to his Mailchimp illustrations is perhaps illustrative of his process at large:
“Mailchimp’s prompts are always very funny and challenging,” he says. “The abstract concepts are always interesting to explore and materialize into more concrete and realistic drawings. I’ve learned to take my time to think about the meaning of the prompt, as well as the implications of it. I always start by writing down words that are relevant to it or that pop in my mind. After that, I start sketching, mixing up my list of words and following the randomness of my train of thoughts.”
The results are uniquely and undeniably joyful—and here, he riffs on his art and craft.
What materials (or programs and devices) do you use?
Everything I do always starts on my sketchbook. I’ve been using the same two brands of sketchbooks for years now, and have a lot of different pens and markers in my pencil case. On the iPad, I only use Procreate and Fresco, as the different digital brushes available are amazing in terms of versatility, textures and shapes.
Have there been ways that working with Mailchimp is different from other clients?
The nicest part of working with Mailchimp is how well-written their briefs are, together with the very clear vision and branding they already have in place. Understanding from the very beginning of a project what a client wants makes it easier to conceptualize thoughts and create more freely. Also, I’ve been working so much with them that I now understand exactly what they like and what they are looking for, making it easier for me to think and create.
Your work typically incorporates a lot of bright color; has it been challenging to work in black and white for the brand?
Luckily, I really enjoy working in black and white. Color is something I introduced in my work just a couple of years ago, as mostly everything during my university studies was black ink on paper. It was nice to be able to leave color behind for a bit and focus on the quality of the line work, the different textures and brushes!
What does your workspace look like?
My desk is in a window corner of a big room I share with five other illustrators and makers. It’s always messy; a lot of plants around, pens, markers and pencils everywhere, and empty coffee mugs. I dream to have a big studio all for myself one day, where I can store all my books, prints and objects I have been collecting.
What are your stylistic influences?
While studying art, I came across a lot of very interesting artists and designers, both from the past and contemporary. I am always researching new artists on Instagram and tend to go [to] as many exhibitions as possible.
Who are your favorite illustrators and designers?
I am in love with the dark drawings of Edward Gorey, the super-colorful sculptures and objects by Ettore Sottsass, the simple shapes of Enzo Mari, and the psychedelic drawings of Heinz Edelmann.
Where do you find inspiration away from the page?
Everyday life is my favorite source, as well as conversation with friends. Mostly all my personal work is related to my life, as I try to visually represent thoughts and emotions that I have during the day. I’ve been doing a drawing a day since lockdown started—that was back in March in Italy—and thinking about collecting my favorites into a zine/collection of some sort, a big project that will keep me company during this crazy second wave.
What’s your best advice for illustrators working today?
Connect with other illustrators and ask them all the questions you have. I have learned so much from confronting myself and my practice with other artists, not only about the way that I approach a drawing, but also about pricing, licensing, industry standards and projects that I was not aware of.