22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Nina Wehrle

Portrait Nina Wehrle
© Ali Ghandtschi

Nina Wehrle was born in 1984 in Willisau in the Swiss canton of Lucerne. From 2003 to 2008, she studied at the Hochschule für Design & Kunst in Lucerne, the oldest educational institution of its kind in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and completed an Erasmus semester at the respected Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. She finished her diploma in illustration with honors. She also earned a master’s degree from the HAW Hamburg.
Together with Evelyne Laube, she founded the illustration atelier It’s Raining Elephants. As a duo they develop their own projects, both in material and textual form as well as for various digital media: picture books, magazine contributions, poster series, screenprinting patterns, animated short films, murals, wallpapers, stage design, costumes, drawing projects, and even tattoos and handmade ceramics under the label hoi. Equipped with an overhead projector, ink, and paper collages, as a band called Piff paff puff they improvised a live visual-musical collaboration game with the jazz drummer Julian Sartorius in which association-rich abstractions transform into comedic scenes and vice-versa. Her multiple award-winning pop-up book »Die grosse Flut« (2011; tr: The Great Flood) uses tableaus and filigree hidden-object pictures in graphite to depict the story of Noah’s Ark. In the picture book »Marta & ich« (2017; Eng. Martha & Me, 2018), the title’s heroine has a weakness for drawing famous animals with names that are often funny. On day, the creative redhead paints a bright yellow lion on a large white sheet of paper. Soon thereafter the wild cat, in a subjective trompe-l’œil manner, steps out of the two-dimensional drawing into Marta’s world with a friendly »Bonjour Madame«. They cheerfully bake cake, scamper through the apartment, and go on trips that become increasingly more colorful. From the perspective of the animal companion one can see how the young artist’s imagination helps to overcome his sad disappearance and inspire new projects. In nuanced colors, the two-page image spreads show a delicate knack for textures and contrasts. The English- and French-language editions have also found international resonance.
The collective’s accolades include, among others, the International Award for Illustration awarded in Bologna, the Korean CJ Picture Book Award (both 2012), the Grand Prix BIB (2013), and a shortlist nomination for the Swiss Kinder- und Jugendmedienpreis (2017). The Swiss Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association selected the duo to participate in the guest of honor program for the 2019 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Wehrle lives in Berlin and Willisau, teaches narrative drawing at her alma mater, and gives workshops at various European institutions, schools, and festivals.