22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Kat Menschik

Kat Menschik was born in 1968 in Luckenwalde, East Germany, grew up in East Berlin and studied communication design at the Berlin University of the Arts after apprenticing as a window dresser. During an exchange year at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, she, along with fellow students, published the monthly comic magazine »Spunk«. Back in Berlin she became a cofounder of the comics publishing house Millionen in 1999, which released the »A. O. C.« series, the goal of which was to publish comic artists who were unknown outside the mainstream.

Since 1999 Menschik has worked primarily as an illustrator and cartoonist. As the daughter of a graphic designer and calligrapher, by her own admission she was influenced by the style of the »Berlin strip«: »My work has a certain harshness. I’ve never used media that soften imagery. I always work in pen and black ink.« In addition to illustrated stories and drawings, including those for the »Berliner Seiten« (tr. Berlin section) of the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«, the features section of the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung« and magazines such as »Stern«, the artist has above all made a name for herself as a book illustrator. In 2002 Menschik designed a new edition of the Estonian Enn Vetemaa’s »Eesti näkiliste välimäärja« (tr. The reference book of Estonian mermaids). She subsequently illustrated works by various authors including Jacques Berndorf’s »Der Meisterschüler« (2009; tr. The master pupil), Tilman Spreckelsen’s northern saga »Kalevala« (2014) and Maria Antas’ book on cleaning, titled »Wisch und Weg« (2015; tr. Wipe it off). Menschik has a very special artistic relationship with the author Haruki Murakami, for whom she illustrated and with whom she published several works, beginning with »Sleep« in 2010. The illustrator’s work process begins with the development of a design idea that persist throughout all the drawings in the eventual book, such as the selection of a particular color scheme or picture format, which is then adapted to individual passages of text. For Murakami’s stories as well, she chooses some excerpts from his texts, which she then expands upon in illustrations informed by her own imagination in order »to insert a somewhat grating, awkward, not entirely explicable second layer«. »Der goldene Grubber« (2014; tr. The golden cultivator), her own work of literature portraying her gardening experiences, was initially published as a serial comic – with one hundred chapters – in the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«; the Stiftung Buchkunst praised the work as »one of the most beautiful German books«. She most recently illustrated the German edition of Mario Vargas Llosa’s short story »Sonntag« (2016; Eng. »On Sunday«).

In 2007 Menschik was awarded the Troisdorfer Bilderbuchpreis for her work.