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Company Profile: Otto Von Beach, A Little Bit of Pirates Illustrator

Otto Von Beach is perhaps the only Victorian artist still working today. Swept away by a freak uphill avalanche in Siberia in 1896, he remained entombed in the ice until his discovery by a passing dog walker in 2010. Some three years of painful thawing later, Mr Von Beach is now back at his drawing table and has resumed his successful illustration career.


Can you describe your job in one sentence?
I make pictures.


Can you take us through the process of doing the illustrations for a project like A Little Bit of...
I work in the traditional Victorian manner, in a small artist's garret above a converted orphanage. Once suitable costumes have been found, I have the urchins enact the key scenes from the Opera while I dash off a few preparatory sketches in charcoal. These completed, I leave the simple task of drawing, inking, colouring, engraving and printing to my assistants while I supervise luncheon.


What do you enjoy about working with an opera company?

It is refreshing to work with an organisation that is dedicated to the pursuit of artistic excellence rather than profit. Perhaps because of this, everyone I have worked with has been thoroughly engaging and utterly charming.


If you weren't working in your current job, what would be your ideal profession?

Magic lantern maker.


What 3 things might people be surprised to learn about you?

That I prefer Coca Cola to Gin.
That I once won a pocket watch from Baron de Coubertin in a game of blind man's whist.
That I have no moustache.


Where is your favourite place to be in the world?