Art, Symbols, Fascination
& The Eternal Love Of The Light
A Retrospective With Silvia Hartmann by Nicola
III: 23 Years Of Illegal Designs
I want to mention your book illustrations and your other design
work. How long have you been working as a graphic designer?
SFX: That is the most peculiar question, not because it is a
peculiar question but because it was really not until I was
preparing my “art CV” for this exhibition that it begun to dawn on
me just how deeply I have been involved in the various aspects of
this game, and for how long.
I always think, or at least I used to think up until a few days
ago, of myself as primarily an author, or a writer.
But the fact is that since 1981 I have been involved constantly,
continuously and without a fail in professional and commercial
truly lost count of just how many logos I’ve designed or for how
many businesses, associations and people; how many books and manuals
I’ve illustrated over the years. I’ve done graphics, cartoons –
there are still books in print in the US with my old cartoons in
them! – and even whole ranges of illustrations like the 30 in
“Enchanted World”, the 66 images from “For You A Star” or that whole
series of German Symbols.
That’s just that, without the literally endless jacket and sleeve
designs, inlays, the diagrams and all the web stuff I do, absolutely
each and every day. On top of that, I paint for a hobby as well –
but it really never occurred to me to notice that. It’s strange how
things work out.
NQ: What are some of your favourite designs?
SFX: Oh, there are so many!
that springs to mind is the stained glass designs. Light and colour,
right? Doesn’t get any better than stained glass, and I fully intend
at some point to do something with that, some symbol paintings
perhaps or something new.
One of my all time favourites is the Fire stained glass design.
That’s from In Serein, and that reminds me, I also like the cover
for the First Edition of In Serein. Very retro and a bit unusual,
but then most of my designs are like that, simply because I never
went to design school and haven’t a clue how it’s supposed to be
done properly. [laughs]
NQ: Do you sometimes think that the fact you have not attended
art college works in your favour?
I don’t think we’ll ever know now! [laughs]
I am at a point now with the commercial design where I really
don’t worry any more, and simply because I don’t know how many
thousands, hundreds of thousands of instances of my designs are out
and about and being practically used every single day by God knows
alone how many people, that is a sign to me that whatever I’m doing,
it seems to work and what more do you need?
What I try and do is to make something that transmits the
message, the energy behind whatever this is that is being
NQ: Oceans of Energy – you can see that from 200 yards away,
SFX: [laughs] “Oh my, aren’t we colourful!”
Look, I just love colours. I LOVE them. They can’t be bright
enough for me!
NQ: That whole series of covers – ET 1, 2, and 3, is really
The key to that design concept is that the images are fractals. If
you look closely at the images, you will see that the edges are
jagged – these are classic Mandelbrot fractal images. It is the
colour and the fractal nature of it that I wanted for the Oceans of
Energy theme – as above, so below, the Oceans of Energy are endless
and you can zoom in and out to every level of existence.
NQ: That concept works very well with the essence of
SFX: Yes, very much so. And the new exhibition – 23 – is like
that. It is in essence, a fractal experiment. It’s a combination of
the oldest and the newest, or perhaps they are the same.
I can sit in front of an old desk, and see the lines in the wood,
and they become a universe to me – and they can be anything at all.
Anything at all – depending on where you set your focal length.
could be a map to an ancient world, it could be a piece of wood on
the floor of a great cathedral, depending how you zoom it, and it
could be anything at all.
I am completely fascinated by that.
23 is a combination of Art Solutions, and this original fractal