Behind the Cover of Our Craft Issue: In Conversation with the Illustrators

Discover the creative story behind our Craft issue, which features its very first illustrated cover – a hyperreal image of Switzerland’s Monte Rosa Hut – along with a rich, floral sleeve and a standalone SUITCASE travel guide to the edgiest Swiss cities.

Anyone, you might argue, can come up with a creative concept. What counts is how you execute it. Which is why, when the SUITCASE team landed on the idea of producing three standalone editorial elements that work together for its summer 2022 issue, we turned to talented Swiss illustrators Nina Schwarz, Anita Dettwiler and Dani Pelagatti to help us bring them to life.

What made this crew so perfect for volume 37 of SUITCASE was not just their diverse design skills but their heritage: with a strong Swiss theme running through the issue, it was important to us that we lean into their understanding of the content while showcasing the skills of graphic artists who are craftspeople in their own right.

Long-time collaborators Schwarz and Dettwiler met while studying scientific illustration at Zurich University of the Arts. Dettwiler and Pelagatti have since set up their own studio - Bunterhund Illustration - and have worked together with Schwarz on numerous projects.

The creation of the SUITCASE Volume 37: Craft cover
Pencils cover initial botanical sketches

Work in progress; the inital stages of the project being formulated.

Initially, there was the magazine to consider, with its first-ever illustrated cover, and for which we commissioned a highly detailed artwork from the trio, strongly bedded in realism and in step with the SUITCASE style - evoking landscape, travel and the human story behind both. Enter our stunning, hyperreal illustration of Monte Rosa Hut, created for our cover and to accompany our feature on Switzerland's iconic mountain shelters.

In tandem with the Craft issue, we also celebrate the artistic side of this spectacular nation with A Creative's Guide to Switzerland, an 80-page SUITCASE travel companion to Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux Riviera, and Basel. For this, we opted for a change of pace from the main magazine, hence the deceptively simple line drawing that employs a little artistic licence to fuse together the Matterhorn and two of the country's most iconic buildings.

Finally, to wrap the two publications together, we wanted to create a splash, achieved through a lavishly illustrated sleeve depicting a vibrant mass of Swiss alpine flowers on the outside, and then highlighting the craft and creativity that has gone into the whole project, with a sketchbook of notes and drawings on the magazine cover story on the inside.

The Craft issue with A Creative's Guide to Switzerland and our specially illustrated sleeve is available online in the UK, to subscribers and in London newsagents while stocks last.

Meet cover illustrators Anita Dettwiler and Nina Schwarz

The trio of illustrators behind the Volume 37: Craft issue
SUITCASE's Volume 37: Craft issue

The illustration team behind the cover, Nina Schwarz (left), Anita Dettwiler and Dani Pelagatti, and the final design for SUITCASE Volume 37: Craft.

How did you design SUITCASE Craft issue's illustrated covers and sleeve? Talk us through the resources and processes.

Nina: A design process as intricate as this requires several steps before the outcome is finalised. Initially, we started with a hand-drawn sketch that was solely based around the issue theme, then, in collaboration with the SUITCASE design team, we were able to mould the style to align with the content. Wildlife and nature is woven throughout the sleeve and cover, but before we could consider adding details we had to marry the appropriate colour palette and typography style.

Anita: After exploring the SUITCASE narrative, we came to analyse past issue covers and what the key factors were in making them individual. Representing the geographical location of the Monte Rosa Hut in Zermatt was challenging - we had to research images and videos in order to best understand what readers would find if they visited. After drafting outcomes based upon different weather conditions and seasons, we were able to present a wide range of composition drafts to the design team… Several revisions and conversations later, the cover was complete.

The internal sleeve features the initial sketches for the magazine cover. What was the creative process from sketches to cover?

A: Throughout the entire process, we [Anita and her colleague Dani] worked closely with Nina, first discussing the style of what the internal sleeve could look like before creating the different sketches. This allowed us to best understand how the botanical style would embed alongside the rugged landscape. In terms of initial sketches, we knew when planning the cover that the sleeve would feature hand-drawn illustrations, so we had always planned the drafts to be a usable asset.

The project was a collaboration from start to finish - with each other as well as with SUITCASE. How did you work together as creatives?

N: The collaboration itself was a huge success. While it was a group effort, there were many individual roles that were divided in a fresh and fulfilling way. Working with other creatives always adds value; the shared exchanges inspired and helped the project to unfold in a positive way. Anita and I had also worked together professionally prior to this, so there was a natural comfort and understanding in our conversations.

A: I personally relish the opportunity to work alongside others; learning different perspectives and enriching a piece through a multitude of opinions is always healthy. It's important to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses when entering any project. In this instance, having a dynamic that welcomed individual power points allowed the project to thrive.

What initially attracted you to the project?

N: The project consisting of various layers was an enticing prospect for me. Aside from having the opportunity to work with the fabulous Anita and Dani, the brief was so beautifully curated, I felt desperate to get started immediately!

A: SUITCASE is a publication that is known for both its storytelling and beautiful photography, so the opportunity to be a part of its first illustrated cover was something that I couldn't pass up. Illustration opens a whole window of new possibilities and I'm delighted to have been a part of that.

Anita Dettwiler and Dani Pelagatti work at a computer together

The duo behind Bunterhund Illustration at work.

What was the motivation behind the botanical element? Tell us about the plants and creatures that are involved.

N: The plants and insects are from Switzerland, most of which are from the alpine region. The natural world can be somewhat overwhelming, so I followed botanist Andreas Honegger's publications as a guide. As well as nailing the accuracy of the content, there was of course the aesthetic aspect, which ultimately was the deciding factor in what plants and creatures would work well together. The ultimate goal was to create a coherent and harmonious overall picture that gives an insight into the exquisite flora of Switzerland.

How did the landscapes of Switzerland impact the artwork?

A: It makes a difference if you know the destination or at least the region. The power of holding that knowledge translates through the light, contrast and texture of the material. Those that have sketched or painted the jagged peaks of Zermatt before will understand how truly difficult it is to reflect the impressiveness and splendour in one small frame.

Discover more stories from the Craft issue here.

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