Sabine Rufener

Portrait Sabine Rufener
Sabine Rufener [© privat]

Sabine Rufener was born in Bern in 1972. She had a passion for drawing and writing from a young age. But she first studied art history and German language and literature in Basel. She lived in Berlin for a year in 1994, participated in theater, then gave up her studies in Basel, attended a photography school, and worked with an independent theater production group and a studio community and started a family. In 2019, she completed a degree in illustration at the School of Art and Design Zurich, which culminated in the production of a picture book.

This final project was published in 2021 under the title »Der Wal im Garten« [tr: The Whale in the Garden]. The story takes place in a large, overgrown garden with an old house where little Lille lives with her grandmother. One day a whale appears there, and although Lille is initially annoyed because the intruder is on her bicycle, the two gradually become friends. In its yearning for the sea, the whale begins to visibly shrink to the extent where Lille can finally carry it back to the water in a bucket. For her debut, Sabine Rufener has experimented with different materials and developed her own technique – print, collage, colored pencils, ink. Accompanied by a colorful background, the scenes of the story are shown from an unusual perspective and plays with contrast and brightness. Her design makes the surreal story plausible. »This story turns one back into a child who takes everything at face value – not out of naivety, but out of good faith, as only a good story can do« [FAZ]. The book was nominated for the Serafina Preis für Illustration 2021 and was selected for the BRAW Amazing Bookshelf 2022 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022. »Huhn Grete will die Welt sehen« [2022; tr: Chicken Grete Wants to See the World] is the beginning of a series about the adventures of an unusually curious feathered creature. In the first part, Chicken Grete gets on a bus to expand her horizons. However, she messes with the fox, which creates unexpected tension to her ventures and confronts her with her own fears. Sabine Rufener uses short sentences and repetitions in this story, which makes the book ideal as a first read for beginners. For the 125th birthday of the Swiss writer Friedrich Glauser, Sabine Rufener illustrated his novella »Die Verschwundene« [2021; tr: The Vanished]. Her most recent work includes her illustrations of Mira Lobe’s book »Madeleine und der Angler« [2022; tr: Madeleine and the Angler].

In addition to her commissioned book illustrations, Sabine Rufener undertakes other design projects such as painting and framing old playing cards, designing stuffed animals from recycled materials, and making box houses from old packaging, which she then paints and glues together. Sabine Rufener lives with her family in Basel.