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magazine, blog, call it whatever you want...

pleased to meet you

PETRA ZEHNER

︎ France
april 13, 2021


Please introduce yourself in one sentence:

I’m a German artist and illustrator based in Paris, France.

What’s been keeping you up at night?

Lately, the kind of society we are inadvertently creating with all these nonsense pandemic responses, and the kind of havoc the media, social as well as traditional, is wreaking. 

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

My ideal lunch (or dinner) setup would be: Frida Kahlo, Anaïs Nin, Joan Didion, Norah Ephron, Tove Jansson, Fran Lebowitz and Gertrude Stein. Maybe throw in Picasso to see how he would hold up. Or Dalí. But not both. 

What are you working on right now?

Hmmm. That’s still secret... 

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

A long hike in the forest or along the coast, with a picnic somewhere along the way, ending with a book and a couple of glasses of wine in the evening.

What was the last thing you read?

I read a lot, have a somewhat eclectic taste and therefore always a few books on the go at the same time. At the moment it’s Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (for some much-needed perspective), Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker (for some much-needed optimism) and Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (sci-fi for some much-needed escapism whenever the first two books don’t do).

Have your ever disliked something and then changed your mind?

Olives?

How do you take your coffee?

Black, and in the biggest size I can find. No tiny French expressos for me, thank you very much.

What are you most proud of in the last year?

Not having given up. I came close a few times.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?

I moved halfway across the world on my own, without anything or anyone waiting for me when I got there. It was after the end of a very long relationship and I thought I needed to proof something. Which of course I didn’t. It was still very much worth it.

What’s on top of your bucket list?

After a year of constant and ongoing restrictions, my priorities are somewhat in flux, and I couldn’t tell what’s on top of my list anymore. At this point, any kind of travel abroad, I guess. That said, I would like to walk the Camino de Santiago one day, from the French border all the way to Santiago de Compostela. And take the train all the way from Berlin to Singapore. I’ve done Berlin to Moscow, and Bangkok to Singapore. But I’d like to do the whole stretch.  

How would your friends describe you?

I have a very diverse set of friends and so have honestly no idea. I know how I come across to people who don’t know me, but my friends...

If you could time travel, when and where would you go?

To Paris, Berlin and/or New York anytime during the (Roaring) Twenties. And maybe to Woodstock in 1969. More optimistic times than the ones we live in.

What really makes you angry?

Hypocrisy and double standards. And certain kinds of noise. 

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Teleportation. An environmentally friendly and cheap way to see the world, plus imagine all the time it would save you on a daily basis. 

Do you hit the snooze button or wake up immediately?

Snooze. Again. And again. And again. And again...

Which fictional character do you relate to most?

Ronja, the Robber's Daughter (by Astrid Lindgren) - I must have read the book at least 20 times when I was around ten or eleven. She's fiercely independent with a strong sense of justice. I also love the book for making clear that being a girl doesn’t change anything. 

Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?

I can think on my feet and am good under pressure. Which is funny, because, given enough time, I tend to overthink almost everything, but when shit really hits the fan, I’m on. 

What is one thing you will never do again?

Never say never. Life tends to get funny when you do.

If you could join any past or current band, which would you want to join?

None. I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of person. But I’d happily be band photographer to a number of bands. Like The Slits, for example (even though I don’t like their music).

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m an extroverted introvert. I love interacting with people but only in small numbers and with breaks to recharge in between.

What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?

What’s unusual? I would try absolutely anything as long as it’s ethically and environmentally justifiable. 

Is your glass half full or half empty?

I’d like to answer this with one of my favourite quotes by Terry Pratchett:

“There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.
The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass! Who's been pinching my beer? And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass) or who had no glass at all, because he was at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barman's eye.”
 

Make of this what you will.

Petra Zehner @petrazehner.art︎


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