After graduating from high school, Eliane Schädler took the preliminary course at the Zurich University of the Arts and then studied ‘Illustration Fiction’ at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Since graduating in 2016, she has been working as a freelance illustrator. She likes to alternate between intensive tours of discovery across Europe and relaxed times in the studio. For each of the last two years she has spent at least four months travelling with her boyfriend Adam, and she would like to continue this balancing act in future. Eliane Schädler comes from Triesenberg in Liechtenstein and is 28 years old.

Where and how did you grow up?

Where: I grew up in the classic way in a detached house with a garden and picket fence, chickens, cats, brothers and parents. I only ever left this place for short periods of time, until I finally moved to Zurich at the age of 19.

How: With a lot of freedom and light-heartedness, but also with a lot of arguments with my brothers. Since they got on my nerves so much, I packed my bags one day and moved in with my neighbours a few houses down the street. Three girls my age… that was much nicer.

‘The Power House’, 2018
‘The Power House’, 2018

Could you describe your professional background?

Classic career: After graduating from high school, I took the preliminary course at the Zurich University of the Arts, which then led me to study ‘Illustration Fiction’ at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Since graduating, I have been trying to make a living as a freelance illustrator. At the beginning, I had various part-time jobs, but for some time now I have been earning my living entirely from drawing.


Were there certain events or stations that were formative for your career?

Probably, but I never perceived it that way. I always took my career for granted. It’s not as if being an illustrator had always been my dream job either, and for a long time I didn’t even know that it was a ‘real’ profession. I just always followed my interests, ended up here and found my current dream job.


Were there certain people who were formative for your career?

Certainly my grandmother, who gave me my love for painting and colours. Whenever I was annoying enough, her flat was converted into a studio for me. She showed me the right way to handle oil paints and allowed me to spend hours and hours scrawling there.

There are probably countless people from my environment who were inspiring for me in their own way and thus formative for my career, but it’s hard to say exactly who, when or in what way.


Has your environment supported you in your career?

Yes, always. Even in my environment, my career was taken for granted and I never experienced any scepticism or doubts.

In the studio in Lucerne
On the road in our mobile home

What are your current activities?

I have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2019. So my job consists of about 35% communication and office work, 55% drawing and 10% procrastinating.


Does what you are currently doing fulfil you?

It fulfils me very much. Of course, sometimes I would like to have more time for my own projects and not every job is the best, but all in all I am convinced that I have the best job in the world.


Do you think that you yourself have an influence on whether your activities are fulfilling?

Yes, of course. Even if not every job is the bee’s knees and not every client has best-friend potential, I can learn a lot from every job – be it of a technical or human nature. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that for a moment, and then my work becomes fulfilling again.


What or who inspires you in everyday life?

On the one hand life itself, and on the other hand the Internet. The unbelievable variety of absolutely brilliant artists I follow on Instagram, for example, whose pictures make me go into raptures every day. They continually inspire and motivate me a lot.


What or who gives you strength and energy in everyday life?

The decision not to set an alarm clock gives me the most strength and energy every day.

Waking up in such a relaxed state has a positive effect throughout the day and gives me enough strength and energy to be alert and productive. I can highly recommend this to everyone.

‘Floral’, 2018

There are ‘magic moments’ when everything seems to fit. Moments that fulfil, inspire and give strength. Moments that confirm that the effort is worthwhile and that what you do is meaningful and valuable. Have you already experienced such moments in relation to your own activities?

Beautiful, touching and formative moments occur often, whereas magical moments are rare and usually come hand in hand with amazement and rapture for me. These moments usually happen for me in nature, but they can also happen from time to time in everyday life or in the studio.

Every now and then I am overwhelmed by the wonderful feeling of creating. The fact of the unlimited possibilities with a pen and a sheet of paper makes me intensely happy again and again.

Magical moments, as the question defines them, go hand in hand with a kind of recognition for me.

For example, looking back with satisfaction on an intensive project, when recognition for the work I have done comes both from others as well as from myself. Those moments are hugely fulfilling.


Do you actively do something for it, so that such ‘magic’ moments can happen?

Not consciously.

‘The Mysterious Wolf’, Liechtenstein Saga, Liechtenstein National Museum, 2021

Are there moments when you doubt what you are doing?

I always have doubts about my own artistic abilities. I don’t really know how to deal with them. I just keep going, do the best I can and then they usually evaporate as quickly as they came.


In retrospect, can you find something positive in difficult moments?

As a rule, yes, but first you would have to define ‘difficult’.

Basically, I am an optimistic person and rarely find it difficult to take the best out of moments.


Do you want to contribute to society with your activities?

I want to give pleasure with my pictures. When I see that my work entertains, immerses people and is simply fun, that’s the greatest thing. I see entertainment as a very important, if not always fully conscious, basic human need. If I can contribute my small part to this process, then I am satisfied.


Is the recognition of other people or the public important to you?

Yes, of course. I see that as a measure of the quality of my work. If my illustrations are not well received, they have usually missed their target, and therefore I have not done my job well.


How well can you live from what you do professionally?

I can live quite well with the lifestyle I have. I haven’t had a big lifestyle upgrade since I was a student, but I have never felt like I didn’t have enough.

I don’t feel that my financial situation has any significant influence on my everyday life or activities, although I suppose that if money didn’t play any role whatsoever, I would certainly work more on my own projects and take the sunny days off.

‘Liechtenstein Jass Cards’, 2020

Is there something that is particularly occupying you at the moment?

Like probably so many others, I am preoccupied with the absurd state of the world and my role in it.


Is there something you would like to (increasingly) spend time on in the future?

I would like to do more ‘meaningful’ things, but ones that suit me. I would like to find out and tackle this balancing act between entertainment and deeper ‘usefulness’ for myself.

A first step in this direction is the first children’s book in easy language from Liechtenstein, which will be published in mid-January 2021. ‘Linus and the Kakapo’ tells stories from the life of Linus, a boy with Downs Syndrome from Triesenberg. The text is in easy language and the illustrations and the entire layout of the book are also based on the guidelines for easy language. It is not only a book that can easily be understood by many people, but also one that gives insight into the life of a person with special needs and should thus help to educate and build bridges.

This is a first project for me in a direction that has much added value in my eyes. How and what exactly I would like to do in the future is still up in the air. The only thing that is clear to me is that I want to look for and find more of this added value.

‘Linus and the Kakapo’, 2021

What are you most grateful for in life?

For the dear people around me and also for the fact that self-realisation is allowed to take precedence over livelihood and that I can therefore pursue my dream job.

But also for May, which brings the cherries and the rain that finally drives my cat into the house. This list could go on and on, but I think that all of you who have actually read this far have really had enough and should treat yourself to a glass of wine. That’s what I’m going to do now.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Laura Hilti, January 2021



All photos: Eliane Schädler

This interview is part of the project ‘Magic Moments’ by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel, in which people are interviewed about their careers, activities and their magical as well as difficult moments.

Curated by Stefani Andersen and Laura Hilti, Kunstverein Schichtwechsel.

Supported by Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein and Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger.

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