Rotraut Susanne Berner, born in Stuttgart in 1948, knew early on what she wanted to become: Although she studied newspaper sciences in Munich from 1969 to 1971, she then switched to graphic design. In 1975 she graduated as a graphic designer. She took her first steps in professional life in publishing advertising, but only for two years: in 1977 she set up her own business as a graphic designer, book designer and illustrator.
When she drew, she always had Walter Trier's illustrations in her mind, who illustrated Erich Kästner's children's books. The books were part of her reading when she was little - similar to her grandmother's illustrated Bible edition. The pictures in them were often a bit spooky and almost completely incomprehensible, but they remained all the more memorable. The artist took from this the fact that not every picture always has to be smooth and without edges. But she made the pictures in her hidden object books "sweet", as she said, with regard to the very small audience.
First for others, then alone
As an illustrator, Rotraut Susanne Berner quickly became known beyond the German-speaking world: Her pictures for children's books appealed to a small audience and the authors also liked them. Numerous nominations, awards and exhibitions with the illustrator's pictures quickly followed. In the long run, however, this was not enough for the artist: since 1994, she has also been designing her own picture books and writing stories for children herself.
Especially the hidden object pictures turned out to be hard work: if the illustrator could often rely on her imagination, the hidden object books depicted reality. Accordingly, before each drawing was made, research was carried out into what construction machinery, for example, looked like. Children, the artist said, were merciless when they discovered flaws in a picture. Accordingly, she made sure that no one snuck in. What did sneak in, however, were pictures from her own everyday life: her husband Armin, for example, who was a bookseller and publisher, is immortalized in the hidden object books, as are the nuns who ran the daycare center next door.
Decision in favor of authenticity
In 2007, the much-praised hidden object books of the children's author were to be published in the USA - a great success and a welcome new source of income. Could she please make the (sparse) nudity that could disturb the US-American feeling disappear from the books for the editions there? Rotraut Susanne Berner declined with thanks. She did not see the point of changing her work just because a different prudishness prevailed in the target country. Ultimately, it did not hurt her to stand by her work: a year later, her books were published uncensored by an American publisher.
Working as an editor
When Armin Abmeier died, with whom the children's book author was not only married but also worked together, she took over one of his heart's tasks: Since 1991 the bibliophile had been publishing the "Tollen Hefte". These were a series of very different stories and poems, each of which was illustrated especially for the editions. Rotraut Susanne Berner contributed the illustrations for some of the books, and after the death of her husband in 2012 she continued to publish the books herself. The series was only finally discontinued with the publication of the 50th issue in 2018.
Children and hidden object books by Rotraut Susanne Berner
As an illustrator, Rotraut Susanne Berner has provided images for countless stories by other authors. Here you can find the books for which she has also worked as an author of children's books and has received many awards.