"La Jornada" Newspaper, April 30th, 2007, México, D.F.
by Elena Poniatowska

What do you need to be an illustrator of children`s books?

Do you need to be a gorgeous little girl like Stefanie Schikora? Walking through the streets of Mêrida the Yucatecans not only turn their heads to look at her long legs but also because she sketches their expressions into her notebook. She is a painter  who has had several expositions,  and you can find her work in Yucatecan homes.

“I was born in Mannheim Germany,  on Mother´s day in 1966, which is celebrated on May 8. My mother says that I was her greatest gift. I have always painted. As a girl I used to win painting contests,  and  then everybody in my class was invited for an excursion to celebrate my awards. Later my work was exhibited  in the hallways of the school and I was very proud.”
“First I studied graphic design and then fashion design in Wiesbaden and Hamburg. People dedicated to fashion are often arrogant and  very superficial, however, at the same school there were  also several artists teaching drawing  and design, so I joined their classes . Here I learned a lot, and started to paint.”
“In 1993  I went to Mérida on vacation to see my sister who was married to Victor Rendón, a photographer, who   died 3 years ago.  I was fascinated by Mérida and felt connected to the Yucatecans. I felt very comfortable here and thought to myself that  this was not going to be my last visit .  The following year I returned to stay for twelve months. I met Ariel Guzmán, a painter and friend of Victor Rendón, and we began to work together on design, illustration and handcrafts. We fell in love and I lost my return ticket to Germany. My parents gained a second daughter in love with Yucatán, and two more Yucatecan grandchildren: Pablo, who is 11 years old now and Stella, age 8. As far as I can see both will be painters and they  have been a strong source of inspiration  to my art work.”

“I had always wanted to draw for children but I had not had a chance until illustrating the story “A Lucas Todo Le Sale Mal”, written by Maria Luisa Puga before she died . The book was created for one of my best friend´s son in Mérida. It was published by the “Fondo de Cultura Económica” , and  I received a lot of positive feedback . As a result, I was asked to do more illustrations. I paint for children, but I do  figurative, not  illustrative or  realistic painting.  I´m always looking for the essence of things. Art is one thing, but illustration quite another, because you must follow a story step by step.”

“Since I  use a lot of colors children find my work cheerful. After I began  living in Mérida my painting has become free and happy with stronger, livelier colors. One´s way of life influences one´s state of mind towards painting . “

“Teaching painting  is fascinating. I have formed  4 groups for children and one for adults.
I provide all the materials and make sure that children and adults of all ages  are learning. At the end of the year we organize expositions which turn out to be a great event in the students´ life.”