Schmoo Theune is a Sketchbook Skool student, artist, and documentary photographer who splits her time between the US and Berlin!

Q: Schmoo, How did your creative journey start?

A: Ever since I was very little I would prefer to sit down with colored pencils or markers and draw instead of doing whatever the other kids were doing. I felt (especially in the early 80s) this was really the only way I could visualize all the fantastic things I was reading and that were playing in my head. This was not really encouraged by my parents at the time so I studied biotech and then went on to a pre-med track in school, etc. But now that I’m older and my parents and I have a better understanding of each other, they’re really proud of all the skills I’ve developed over the decades. And so am I!

Q: What are some current projects that are inspiring you?

A: I have a tendency to say yes to a lot of things, because I love working with people and learning from them. But if I had to pick one project right now, I’d say it is a cookbook project that a chef friend invited me to illustrate. This is scary in a good way because sketching for someone else is a very new concept for me, but I’m so excited about this challenge and all the pages I’m going to fill… and to see it all come together. Plus, I love cooking and most of what I know about this art has come from her, so I already know it’s going to be a fantastic journey. I really love the way Koosje illustrates her food and I’m hugely inspired by all the food illustrations I’ve seen from her.

Q: What is one medium or art tool you can’t live without?

A: Besides photography (because how else would we be sharing our finished work?), it’s my fountain pens. I love writing as much as sketching and I got into sketching initially through my rather extreme obsession with fine writing instruments. I carry watercolors and markers in my bag these days but if I had to pare it down to just one thing, it’d be the fountain pen. I love the enormous variation of nibs and inks out there, and how dramatically things can change when you pair them up differently. Plus you can never have just one…

Photo by Christina Gapic

Q: What has your creative practice taught you?

A: I’ve been a photographer since I discovered my father’s old film camera in college, and although I didn’t go full-time professional until about 4 years ago, I always worked gigs on the side. I loved the idea of capturing moments that most people miss, and I think I personally loved documenting everything because the human brain forgets so much. But these days I realize how constrained I was feeling, and returning to sketching has given me my own freedom back: Drawing allows you to edit reality, or create what you want. If you don’t like the way something looks in front of you, then change it! In photography (especially photojournalism) this is a serious no-no, but I discovered that I enjoyed — and very much needed — to have this balance in my creative world, so I love having both mediums in my creative toolbox (you can see more art here!).

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a brand new artist or someone who’s just recently joined SBS, what would it be?

A: Draw more — every day. I have this written on a sticky note stuck to my laptop and since I started following this command, it’s become easier. The more you draw, the easier it gets, mentally and physically, to tap into that creative power that lives in all of us. Then you have no excuse to say that you’re not an artist.

We love Schmoo’s advice and it inspires us to come up with our own mantras for drawing and being creative. We would love to hear yours in the SkoolYard!

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