When Berlin illustrator Kathrin Kuhn quit drinking alcohol in 2017, she was terrified that she could never be creative again. Until that is, she discovered an alternative remedy to beat any dreaded rut.
The Rainbow Book is a collection of collages and quirky illustrations, and a way for Kathrin to “let go” and stay focused, replacing a so-called similar effect that she claimed to get from drinking booze. This belief system apparently came from a professor at her art school who, whenever someone was struggling, used to say: “Do it over, later at night, with wine.”
And that worked, up to a point. Though she had not exactly been a “raging mess”, as she puts it, drinking had started to demand more room, time and energy than she was willing to give. So she quit. “Often, creative people link their creativity to a state of dissociation,” says Kathrin. “They assume their originality is fuelled by drinking, smoking, or feeling extreme emotions. I too clung to the romantic myth of the intoxicated artist.
“Alcohol and other substances help open the gates to the realms of irrationality and chaos, where also art lives. Wine eases the fear of the blank canvas. It shuts down the sensor in your head and turns down the volume of your perfectionism. ‘Write drunk, edit sober’ is an often quoted line that Hemingway actually never uttered. But it became famous anyhow, and I get why. My inner sensor is loud, and taming my perfectionism to the point where it becomes possible to actually show my work to other people was always a job of its own.”
In the first few months of quitting alcohol, Kathrin struggled to be creative. So the Rainbow Book became her life-saver. It allowed her to play without limits, helping her to be at her best at work. “When I started a new page, it got me into the flow almost immediately. The outcome was irrelevant, it was just about the process. I loved to watch the works evolve and change and become more distinct with time. It made me remember why I once loved this work so much,” she adds.
Here, we share some of Kathrin’s mindfulness creations for the Rainbow Book. To discover more of her work, visit kathrinkuhn.com.