Olivier Kugler
Olivier Kugler






2004 – IMAGES 28

Olivier Kugler was born in 1970 in Stuttgart, Germany. He grew up in Simmozheim, a small village, in the Black Forest. Olivier is influenced by French/Belgian bande desinées and Otto Dix. After military service in the Navy, Olivier studied graphic design in Pforzheim (Germany) and worked as a designer in Karlsruhe for a few years… got terribly bored with it and received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to do a masters degree in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Since then Olivier is working as an Illustrator in London for clients all over the world. He likes to do reportage illustrations, loves to draw people he meets and places he visits. He prefers to draw on location or from own reference photos and likes to colour his drawings on his laptop.

Olivier Kugler is the overall winner of the 2011 V&A Illustration Awards for his depiction of a truck driver’s journey across Iran, featured in French quarterly reportage magazine XXI. His clients include The Guardian, XXI, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reader's Digest, The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine and Harper's Bizarre.

Receiving the award was a confidence booster! This was one of my first illustration assignments and the first proper portrait I ever did as a commission. So I was very excited hearing the good news. The award gave me a good exposure and I used to get many follow up portrait commissions.”


BRIEF: Roger Browning at The Guardian asked me to do a portrait of the American writer Jonathan Franzen for the paper's Review section.

MATERIALS: HB Pencil drawing, digital colouring

RESEARCH: None, client provided me with photo reference.

PROCESS: Line drawing on paper using the photos as reference. After scanning in the pencil drawing the colouring was done on the computer. When the portrait was finished I thought it would be nice to add a simple line drawing in the background to give it a sense of location… something hinting on an urban American character. I remembered a series of drawings I did when I was still studying in New York. The drawings were about Alberto, a heroin addict living in a car wreck on a parking lot in Spanish Harlem. So I just copy pasted this detail showing a silhouette of a building including the New York typical water tower and fire escape into the layout.

RESISTANCES: This was my first assignment where I had to create a drawing using photographs as reference for the illustration. Before that I used to do all my drawings on location. So I found it a bit difficult at the beginning but enjoyed doing the drawing sitting at the little table in the bedroom while listening to Vanessa Feltz's phone-in-show on BBC Radio 2.

INSIGHT: I realised that I can draw from photos too! It felt great recycling a part of an older drawing and using it within a new context.

DISTRACTIONS: None really… Back then I just loved listening to Vanessa's voice. Listening to her is a good way to improve my English language skills!

NUMBERS: The fee for the drawing was 350 GBP.