Arts & Literature

Translation – a creative Process

Translating the arts and literature is a creative, informative and very rewarding process with the translator very likely to be named as a contributor to the project, which in itself is a novelty seeing that translation as a process by its very nature tends to hide from view. Translators want to create texts that are a joy to read and hear – as if written for the first time. The translation needs to be engaging and beautiful so that the reader doesn’t stumble and stays with the text in translation as the reader of the original text would do.

Leading to the original

That does not mean that a translation can’t lead its readership closer to the original text by referring to concepts as they are understood in the source culture or mirroring the rhyme scheme of the original poem for instance. It all depends on the purpose of the translation – and there is always scope within the surrounding text to talk about the source culture and provide context.


For me as the translator, the process of translation itself is engaging and informative because each different subject matter needs in-depth research to understand the original text in its context. At times a little creativity is needed in the shape of a paraphrase for instance that seemingly blends in to help the target audience understand a particular idea a little better.

Arriving at the target text

As with every type of text, but maybe particularly in the context of the arts, translation is a many layered process. I often work through the whole text as a first draft, making sure everything present in the original is translated and I haven’t misread anything. I then go over the text in translation several times, each time separating the process more and more from the source text – consciously losing sight of it – until the target text fully exists in its own right with its own dynamics and its own language.

Bilingual proofreading

It is the proofreading process which then looks at the two texts together again in order to ensure that the translation reflects the richness of content and style of the original as effectively as possible.

Creativity is sparked by working together

I believe in working closely together with my clients and with other colleagues to ensure a creative approach as well as quality of work. I communicate throughout the project to let my clients know about the process itself and to ask about their requirement with regards to glossaries and style sheets for instance. I may also put questions to them to ensure a thorough understanding of the original text. Throughout the process I can rely on professional networks of linguists when researching a particular subject. And last but not least, I work with checkers and proofreaders to ensure the translated text is of the highest possible quality.

Feel free to get in touch

Please get in touch if you want to discuss arts related projects including amongst others:

  • academic and book translation
  • literature – poetry, prose and children books
  • artisan and heritage craft
  • the arts and exhibition catalogues
  • music – traditional and classical

Some examples of my work in publication

go to the publishers website

Poetry translation
contributions to Iain Galbraith (ed.) (2010) Beredter Norden (Edition Rugerup)

go to the publishers website

contributions to Wagner und Italiano (eds.) (2019) Grand Tour (Hanser Verlag)

go to the publishers website

Short fiction translation
Oscar Wilde (2015) Die Nachtigall und die Rose (Stellaplan)

have a closer look to the book in the shop of Deutsches Historisches Museum

Academic translation
several essays for Raphael Gross, Melanie Lyon, Harald Welzer (2020) Von Luther zu Twitter. Medien und politische Öffentlichkeit für das Deutsche Historische Museum.

go to the publishers website

several essays for D. Blankenstein, B. Savoy, R. Gross und A. Scriba (2019) Wilhelm und Alexander von Humboldt (Deutsches Historisches Museum)

go to the publishers website

Audio translation for films and documentaries
Ralf Bücheler (dir.) (2009) Im Wendekreis des Schafs