Willi Rieser (1936–2016)

In his autobiography, Willi Rieser reflects on his childhood impressions of the pharmacy run by his parents. One of his most vivid memories is of a vibrant trade magazine on colours, which set him on the path towards studying painting and strengthened his desire to become an artist. As a small child, Rieser was banned from painting by his parents, as he would also paint books, walls and windowsills around the home with nail varnish and lipstick.

After primary school, he attended the secondary school at Disentis Abbey until 1952. He subsequently began a pharmacist apprenticeship in St. Gallen, which he left after two years to become an apprentice graphic designer at Alwin Kneubühler’s studio in Zurich. He completed his apprenticeship at the studio of Paul Leber and Charlotte Schmid.

From 1958 to 1961, Rieser lived in Ibiza during the summer months, where he mostly spent his time painting, but also produced illustrations for Peter Schifferli’s publishing company, Arche Verlag. In the winter he worked for advertising agencies in Zurich. He also became famous for the decorations he created for the masked balls for artists in Zurich over more than ten years. In 1962, Rieser married Elvira Mozzi and in 1965 the couple moved to the countryside in Augwil, Lufingen, where they live to this day.

Rieser was one of the founders of the Art Directors Club Switzerland in 1974 and soon became one of the most sought-after illustrators in the country. In 1987, he collaborated with chef Horst Petermann on the highly successful cookbook ‘Tafelbilder’, designing and illustrating it himself. Since 1996, Rieser has been concentrating on fine art, including the art of bookbinding.