Isabella Til

Born 30.1.1964 in Cologne, since 1994 lives and works in Duesseldorf.
Isabella Til studied at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen where she graduated 1991 with diploma summa cum laude with Prof. Vilim Vasata and Prof. Stefan Lengyel. She also studied photography with Prof. Inge Osswald, a former assistant of Otto Steinert the founder of so called ”subjective photography“. (His idea of photography involved major work in the darkroom.) Furthermore she studied free graphic arts and nude drawing with Prof. Sabine Tschierschky, art direction with Prof. Coordt von Mannstein, poster design with FHK Henrion, London and corporate design with Prof. Vilim Vasata.

While she was influenced to a high extend by Walter Gropius‘ Bauhaus utopia that all fine arts should work together to integrate efficiency and beauty into everyday processes instead of doing "l'art pour l'art" and while she also felt a big gap in this regard in unified Germany, Isabella Til during the 90s worked as a graphic designer for famous studios like Hesse Design, frogdesign, Claus Koch, Rempen and KW43/Grey (corporate design for Swarowski, Audi, otelo, Kirch Media Group, E.on, Linde). In 1998 she launched her own studio ( Her work has been internationally awarded, e.g. by Type Directors Club and Art Directors Club New York City and Red Dot and Art Directors Club Germany.

As an artist she initially followed the photographic path and worked up the strong influences of new colour photography she experienced and was a witness to during her study at Folkwang School. While she grew up and lived right beside Folkwang Museum she benefit of the fantastic collection of 20th century art and the forward-looking photo exhibitions curated there by Ute Eskildsen. The critical examination of that time involved youth culture of the 80s/90s and fragile inconsistencies of urban existence reaching from US-photographers like Nan Goldin to a different view on magazine photography (FAZ-Magazin, Tempo, Brand eins) and the question of the authentic image, the subjective view and photography as art.
Thus between 1988 to 2001, she continuously documented her life in self-portraits which she worked into the book project REFLECT I.T and which never have been shown in public.

Photography did not exclude her relation to traditionally handmade drawing and painting.
The conceptual drawings res narrandi (2014-15) show a personal selection of about fifty everyday items and deal with abstract ideas of notion of time, the emotional potential of objects and German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk‘s ideas of social transmission and the fading attraction of ”heritage“, as well as Roland Barthes‘ semiology of modern myth creation.

Her own black and white photo works, produced in analogue technique about thirty years ago, inspired her to make watercolours (Area, 2016) which examine three-dimensionality and light in the image by using a minimal canon of form and colour. In a second stadium she digitally deconstructs these watercolours and rebuilds a new imagined scenery. The resulting fine art prints are partly painted with acrylic to emphasize or to destroy a specific composition by adding a third level and producing a personal resonance.


Isabella Til – Photography and Drawing, exhibition-catalogue, Felix Ringel Galerie, 2016
res narrandi, Isabella Til, 44 drawings featuring texts of Roland Barthes and Peter Sloterdijk, 2015
Art Directors Club New York City, Yearbook of awards, 1999
Type Directors Club New York City, Yearbook of awards, 1999
Art Directors Club Deutschland, Yearbook of awards, 1999
Red Dot Design, Yearbook of awards, 1997, 1999
Essener Unikate, Research Magazine University Essen, presentation of project RISI BISI, 1992
Essener Formate, publication of artist workshop Stadt Essen, eight students create their personal look
on the city, form Prof. Tschierschky, Folkwang University of Arts, 1988