Interview: Ceethava

I had the honour and pleasure to do a brief interview with Susanne, the artist behind Ceethava. Residing in Fulda – a city in the East of Hesse, Germany, known for its magnificent cathedral and surrounded by beautiful uplands – Susanne (27) creates stunning pieces of dotwork art, using mostly skulls as canvass for her amazing work.

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When did you discover your passion for art?
Art has accompanied me since my childhood and has always been a means of getting in contact with myself and communicate my inner world to the outside. During my lifetime, I learned a lot of drawing styles and worked with various materials to express myself and this passion still grows with the years.

As far as I know, the technique you work with is known as dotwork. How come you choose this technique?
Especially my term at the Technical College in Design has been a major influence on my art. This was my first experience with copperplate engraving and dotwork shadowing as a drawing technique. It’s the most expressive style to bring the pictures to life and it’s visually similar to the line shadings of copperplates, which I really adore. It is obvious that I use this technique to imitate ancient art and it fits most with old skulls and occult symbolism.

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You mostly paint on deer skulls. When did you get the idea to put aside paper and instead use skulls as your canvass?
In 2015, I’ve decorated my home with bones and deer skulls that other people wanted to throw away. I very much regretted that people don’t see the beauty of death and not showing enough respect for the dead unique beings.
When my love has given me a book with the collection of Albrecht Dürer’s wood engravings, I’ve decided to paint one of his motives on one of my skulls. This was the beginning of my skull paintings. It’s a wonderful way to combine art and death, also to resurrect love within us for already forgotten beauties.

How can one imagine the process of creating a piece of your artwork, from the idea to the finished skull?
Thanks to my boyfriend, I’ve discovered a new passion for old books, especially of artists. This influences my motives and creates new ideas. Albrecht Dürer and Gustave Doré are my greatest idols by the way.
I also have a huge digital collection of all kind of art; drawings, digital paintings, photographs, sketches, sculptures etc. And there are particular artists like ‘Misantrophic-Arts’, Richey Beckett or ‘Business for Satan’ who I admire and who enrich my spirit and creativity. So I’m getting my inspiration from everywhere. Fortunately, it’s never boring to give all my attention to detail, even if a commissioned work is based on pictures. 🙂

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Your work seems to me very minimalist, yet at the same time rich in detail. Does this tension speak to you?
On the one hand it’s the process to acquire new skills and to overcome new challenges. On the other it’s the enthusiastic response of the people.
I was very surprised about the extremely positive feedback from all sorts of people and I’m thankful for the increasing support!

What else do you do except working on skulls?
I have also been doing experiments with watercolours, acrylic, pencils, ink, photography and structure paste for a number of years. The new thing I’m working on is my lifelong dream to tattoo. For more than a year I have been searching for a mentor, but it’s difficult to find someone who would take me under his wing and teach me. The main problem is that I’m  female – sad but true.

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I understand you do lots of comissions. Is there anything you wouldn’t want to paint?
Derogatory, too complex or unworthy motives. Sometimes I must be honest enough to explain, that it’s not possible for me to draw some designs or it will take months to finish them – that could be rather frustrating!

You work under the name of “Ceethava”. What does it mean?
No deeper meaning at all…  It’s just unique and that’s why I chose it.

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How do you get yourself in a creative mood? Do you have any specific rituals that help you with it?
Good art needs time and muse. Often the key to start something new is to meditate and to focus your mind on the project. Everyone who tried out dot shading for some time had the experience that you could fall into a kind of trance, which is very liberating and relaxing.
Whatever you want to do you have to be balanced to create something new. Otherwise it would be doomed to failure and would kill all creativity for the rest of the day or maybe for a longer time.
Things I often do during the searching for new motives are to listen to inspiring ambient music or ‘watching’ one of the latest documentaries on the web which expand my horizon in politics and economics. This opens up your mind for the problems of your near future and the world around you.

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– an artwork by Ceethava done for the Funkenflug festival –

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– a glimpse at Susanne’s workplace and objects that inspire her –

If you want to see more art by Ceethava, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or purchase a piece of artwork on Bigcartel.

Lisa v. D.

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