Spring has hardly sprung in Germany, as I patiently await well-know illustration artist, Helge Jepsen in front of cafe Zweibar located in the heart of Rüttenscheid. I catch a glimpse of Helge walking in my direction. His demeanor is friendly, relaxed and down to earth and with his welcoming smile one can hardly fathom the extent of his success. The cafe is already a buzz as we enter to find a cosy seat in the corner.
Born in Northern Germany, Helge Jepsen could draw before he could walk. His mother recalls how he could keep himself busy for hours in his playpen with only paper, pens and newspapers to his disposal. Newspapers you might ask for a toddler who could not yet read? Word has it that it was the pictures and illustrations in the newspapers that caught his eye and inspired his scribbles and sketches. Until today his godfather proudly brags of an impressive rooster he sketched when he was only five years old. It was without a doubt that Helge would eventually go on to study communication design. During his time serving in the German armed forces, he started informing himself about the possible universities he could enroll in. Being accepted into all he applied for, Essen offered the best opportunity to cut the cord with his parents and to start to build a life of his own.
It took him 10 years to complete his degree, but during this time he already started working as a paid illustration artist and made quite a name for himself. Today he wonders why his girlfriend at the time pushed him to finish his final exam, as no-one ever asks to see “his papers“ before hiring him as illustration artist. With his work he has appeared in almost every magazine known to Germany, including the Spiegel, Stern and Auto Motor and Sport and has also published some of his own work including a book title “99 automobile Rennklassiker und ihre Spitznamen.“
Helge mostly illustrates from home, but when he takes his sketchbook along with him – he considers it free-time. During the day he illustrates to the sound of his TV (modernized radio) blearing in the background. Every now and again an interesting picture or scene catches his eye that he quickly jots down, and as such a collection of about 10 sketched ideas starts to fill his working space. Some ideas are transformed into beautiful illustrations and others are left to gather dust.
Many have asked him why he always sketches on weekends, but to him being an illustrator is more than a job, it’s a passion and his ultimate hobby. If asked if he would ever consider doing something else with his life, he replies that a job as travel journalist could also be a great alternative. He enjoys traveling, visiting deserted and abandoned places and capturing these places on camera. Thereafter he enjoys bringing them back to life in the form of beautiful illustrations. If he could have the best of both worlds his perfect day would be waking up to the sun rising somewhere in the desert, enjoying a good American breakfast with his wife, exploring interesting and abandoned places and taking pictures of them, followed by a great dinner and an early evening of sketching down what he had previously observed. The perfect end to his perfect day is going to bed with an illustration that is to his 100% satisfaction – an illustration that he could look at in 20 years and still be proud of. According to Helge only 10 previous illustrations have made the cut.
To Helge there is no better way to make a living than doing what he loves and going to bed at night with a burning excitement to start illustrating again in the morning. His passion for life, cars and illustrating is so contagious that I myself exit cafe Zweibar feeling encouraged and inspired to follow my dreams.
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Illustrations by HelgeJepsen.de
Report by Leandri Meyer for VINTAGESTYLE