"Schmaise," his artist name, caught my attention recently on Instagram ( with his paintings. He photographs his clients and creates impressive artworks using graphic tablets based on these references in several steps of work. His ability to model light on his models' bodies impressed me. His works are sometimes opulent, sometimes minimalistic, occasionally revealing, but always aesthetic and never "like a photograph that was then painted."


As I am looking for opportunities to network and collaborate, I arranged a meeting with the Bachelor of Arts in Communication Design, who goes by the name "Schmaise," at a café. I quickly engaged in a very interesting conversation with the 36-year-old. Here is an excerpt from it:


Usually, I always start by asking how you got into photography. In your case, however, photography is only the raw material for your art, so let me ask differently: How did you learn to paint like this?

After finishing high school and my civil service, I studied Communication Design in Düsseldorf. Besides 2D video animation, photography, and typography, drawing was one of the four main focuses of my studies. Initially, I concentrated on 2D video animation and, after completing my studies, applied for jobs in that field with more or less no success. During that time, I realized that my heart wasn't as much into motion graphics as it was into drawing and painting. Therefore, since 2016, I have been working as a freelance illustrator. Since around 2020, I have been focusing on painting people, primarily women. I mostly taught myself the technique based on the foundations from my studies, and of course, lots of YouTube tutorials.


How does the process of a commissioned work unfold until completion?

Mostly, women approach me via Instagram, expressing their desire to have such an artwork of themselves at home on the wall. I then discuss the approach with them and we meet at the client's or my place for a photo shoot. Usually, I create a few concept sketches with different poses beforehand, after asking the client about their ideas, which I then discuss with the client to get a rough idea of the direction the shoot could take. Such a shoot is different from a traditional photo shoot. I exclusively work with my own light that I bring along. Flash units are not used. We usually only take one or two poses until I believe every detail is just right – fabric folds, hands, hair, etc. For the background, I often use a fabric cloth or a curtain. It can happen that the photo is taken in the kitchen, for example, and I simply hang up the background. The photo serves as a reference for drawing the body and the face, not for the background. Afterward, I create a sketch that I coordinate with the client. Here and there, I make some adjustments to the posture, and then the actual painting process begins. That usually takes several days. Everything happens digitally from the photo reference to the final result. I work with a Wacom 22HD, a monitor on which you can draw. If the client desires a high-quality print and framing, I have it done according to their wishes. Up to A3 size, I print it myself.


So, the client sees your sketch and then the finished image? What do you do if they later don't like the final image?

That has never happened before. But if it does, we would discuss the changes, and I would incorporate the adjustments until the client is satisfied.


Are you a perfectionist?

I don't like the word; it sounds so negative. But yes, I am meticulous in my work, and it is important to me that my clients appreciate my work. That is only possible when I deliver high quality. There are times when I am not satisfied with a painting, and in such cases, I work on it until it fits. Or I set it aside for a week and look at it again with more distance. Usually, I end up liking it better than during the immediate process of creation. However, the latter is only applicable to a limited extent in commissioned work.


You have a bird skull with crossed bones as your logo, you wear a signet ring with a sailing ship on it, and I have seen pirate motifs from you again and again.

Yes, that's true. I just have a thing for everything related to pirates. So, more of a freedom-loving aspect, sailing with one's crew across the seas, rather than the aspect of theft and arson. [Schmaise grins]


What kind of contact would you appreciate most at the moment?

[Schmaise ponders for a while] Paying customers would be great. - Honestly, I am currently struggling to promote and sell my art. Social media has recently made a big sweep and kicked off or restricted anything even remotely related to nudity. I believe I would appreciate someone who could show me how to successfully market my work. I lack a proper marketing concept. Word of mouth is nice, but it is difficult to make a living solely from that. The time of the pandemic was really tough. Everyone retreated to their homes, and art was the last thing people were willing to spend money on. Currently, I work four days a week in the gastronomy instead of painting. [looks pensive]


Thank you for the conversation, and I wish you all the best for your impressive art!


For those interested in Schmaise's artwork, they can find it here:



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Interview Schmaise v2 engl pdf.pdf
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All photos published on this page with the kind permission of Schmaise (

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