Comic continent residency. General information

Hello everyone.


I didn't post for a long time, but it was worth waiting for this text: I will tell about residency for illustrators in Germany!


So make yourself comfortable, it will take at least four posts to try to describe great atmosphere and results.


1. General information

2. Berlin day

3. Exhibition day

4. My work

5. Surprise post



I don't know what is a best way to start, so I will start with the questions I had when I saw a post about the residency.


What is it?

Where did it come from, who are the people organizing the event?

Why is it called "comic continent"?


First of all, the website:


Actually it is not only a residency, but it is a whole picture book festival located in three small towns in Germany: 

Müncheberg - the main location, 

Waldsieversdorf (for russian speakers - it is pronounced almost as Vladivostok) - the place of residency and 

Buckow, where we had the final exhibition.

The short story behind is:

Two neighbours, Sarah Wildeisen and Oliver Spatz were trying to get books into theirs children lives. So they started to organize local events, readings etc to involve community around books in ther _spare_ time. And in 2013 this activity became a real picturebook festival.


Now the team is:


Sarah Wildeisen - book scientist, library coordinator from Berlin

Oliver Spatz - theatre scientist, cultural manager in Germany and Poland

Barbara Anna Bernsmeier - cultural manager, russian philology specialist. It was Anna to launch the residency "Comic continent" in 2017

Olesia Vitiuk - cultural manager, curator, assistant 

Grzegorz was translating all the languages. 

and even more, you can find how many people make everything work:


{and every person we met was amazing and caring, we had the best cook and driver, the best volunteers and assistances, the best visitors for events. I can not describe my gratitude.}

Each year festival and residency have special guests: illustrators, curators, translators.

This year illustrator guest was Piotr Socha from Poland, author of the books "Bees" and "Trees". He was a mentor for the residency illustrators, he was giving workshops for kids in festival program. And he was giving endless cheers and drawing Cheburashka a lot!

Day1. Saturday Nov 10th

So we gathered in Berlin on a welcome dinner on November 10th. We didn't even know yet what to expect, and what shall we do. But the very first meeting had shown that it would be a great time with great people.


Day2. Sunday Nov 11th

We had a morning in Berlin, so some of us decided to visit flea market. Not really impressive. Then I've decided to walk to Reichstag, but it was raining so hard that I've chosen the nearest open bookshop. Please remember, it is difficult to find open store in Berlin on Sunday.

In the evening we took the train to the East and arrived at dark dark cold place. We got into the Otto bus, which would play a crucial role in the whole residency. And here again a word about local communities: it was a bus provided by local culture community to help the festival. It was like a real Night Express form Harry Potter. 


Day3. Monday Nov 12th

Wow I didn't expect how beautiful it could be there. Really great place with crisp fresh air, swans in the lake, a lot of birds singing.

Waldsieversdorf is a tiny village with old houses, lakes, boats and no store:) At all :) It was difficult to work without cookies at first.

Ah, and there is almost no internet and mobile network. So a lot of time and concentration for work and team building. Actually it was really great opportunity to work and know each other. Everything was so well-organized, that we only thought about work. And cookies, of course:)



But it's time to start to work! First meeting, general ideas and self-presentations. 

Then lecture by Piotr about his work as editorial and book illustrator.

And after that we started to work. It is always difficult to start - we had really unusual concept and very interesting theme. The main theme of the whole residency was "My heritage: gloomy and cheerful", it is a topic you can discuss for ages, but we actually only had 2,5 days to do the work: 1/2 Monday, 1/2 Tuesday, 1/2 Thursday and Friday. Really difficult to place yourself in this limited time, so on Monday almost everyone (as I felt it) was a little bit confused. But you know that it is only difficult to start, so at the end of the day it was more or less clear vision of project for me.

Day 4. Tuesday Nov 13th.

We had half of the day to work, then a  trip to John Heartfield’s museum: and then something secret.

I have to say I've missed the trip because I was all into work, but everyone told it was really great.

And at the evening we had Piotr Socha birthday party:)

Day 5. Wednesday Nov 14th.

Berlin day!

Really special day, we visited publishing house, library, art store ^_^ , book store with the best books in the world. I will do a special post about this day and all places.

Day 6. Thursday Nov 15th.

Festival opening day!

Oh, we were so nervous! Because there was illustrators battle waiting for us! Do you know really exraverted illustrators? Yep, I don't think so. But let's start form the beginning.

Festival opening was in a great chapel in the Munechberg. It had been destroyed during WWII, but in 80th-90th it was reconstructed by the local community. I really adore the power of locality in Germany. And now it is a church, a culture center, a library and exhibition place. So great!

And we had opening ceremony, then a great discussion about Piotr's books (in three languages+parallel translation into Russian), which was really interesting even though we've already knew something about the books. And I was really impressed with everything regarding organization. Everything was thought through, and done with love. Every tiny detail.


And then The Slam!

The format was the following: there was a table for two illustrators, video camera above the table, big sheet of paper and screen to show video. And the musicians! Live music, no words to describe the atmosphere, just watch the video. Battlers were told the topic for illustrations as they got to the table, so it was not easy. I got to battle with Piotr Socha and you can imagine how my hands were shaking:)


Even after this crazy day everyone got back to work. I got to bed right from the table at 1 am everyday or later.


Also on Thursday arrived Anton Valkovsky, curator, whose task was to gather the final exhibition from all our different works. I've never worked with curator before, and frankly speaking didn't expect anything. But it was awesome. An opportunity to talk and develop your idea with attentive and very broad minded person, questions leading to the clicking ideas. Anton told something like "artist should understand itself" (i don't remember the exact quote), but I am totally agree. Everything artists do is going from theirs personal experience and soul, so they should understand it to give to the public. 

Day 7. Friday Nov 16th.

And the last day of work! Everyone is working hard, a lot of participants changed the concept after consultation with Anton. But still we managed amazing work/talk balance, doing short breaks to walk to the lake and enjoy children playground. I was really amazed with a great working atmosphere we had. Total involvement, respect for each other, and a lot of help on the last night. People were asking if they could help, those who finished their work, Anton, our driver, and may be someone else (sorry I don't know all the heroes) went to the freezing bus at night to wash it all because we were going to have exhibition there. I have to say that it melted my heart. Thank you guys :*

I couldn't imagine we would become great friends in one week, but I think we did. Lav!

Day 8. Saturday Nov 17th.

The exhibition day! That day we had an opportunity to show our woks to the city Buckow, guests of the festival, ourself and to TV weather forecast :) 

We were located on the main square of the Buckow: the bus, two small christmas trade houses, fireplace and tables for workshops. The day was really freezing, soso cold. I will do a video about this day to show everything! 

After the exhibition we gathered at cafe to celebrate the whole festival and residency, to dance and sing:)

We calculated that we were dancing for 5 hours that night:)


Day 9. Sunday Nov 18th.

We got up, packed our pencils and soon we were in different trains, plains, thinking about tomorrow.

It was amazing experience both in professional and just about life and people. Thank you so much Barbara and Oliver for the hard work, for the great atmosphere. Thank you Olesia for the help in every tiny detail for everyone. Anton, thank you for the whole new approach to art. Thanks to everyone who was involved, who participated, who cook the food, who booked the tickets. It is crazy amount of work and care and I deeply appreciate every piece of it.


For illustrators: you know what to do.