Artist, author, and animator Christoph Niemann is often referred to as the world’s best illustrator. With his work appearing regularly on the covers of The New Yorker, National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine, and his art being subject to numerous museum retrospectives, it’s easy to see why.
Some highlights of his work include drawing live at the Venice Art Biennale and the Olympic Games in London and sketching the New York City Marathon — while actually running it. His clients also include giants like Hermés, Google, LAMY, and The Museum of Modern Art.
But when asked by The Talks if he feels pressured when critics name him the world’s best illustrator, he had this to say: “If someone is reading something like that, then trust is being thrust on me and trust is really important. When I sit down with a book and want to like it, then the possibility is much higher that I will really like it. So, that means something like that is like… Pre-emptive credit, which of course has a nice impact but where a statement like that really doesn’t do anything is where my work is concerned, because every new work is already like you start at zero again. This is an experience that everyone in that field that I talked to shares. The better a thing is, the worse it is next time because you will always be measured on the thing that was good.”
“For me, there is very often this feeling of thinking that, right at the start, I need a big idea,” he reflected. “I get to this desperate state where I feel like, ‘How will I ever make it again?!’ For me, I have to make little, unspectacular steps, step by step and then if I’m lucky it will happen again. No, I don’t need a big idea, I need 1000 small steps: 1000 steps ahead, 500 steps back, 700 steps to the right and then I will end up somewhere. So, you really have to force yourself to trust that process. In my opinion, you don’t come up with brilliant ideas while taking a shower, you know? A big goal of my work is that in the end, the results look like there was no alternative, as if things would have just fallen down from the sky — just like that. It sometimes still fools me, sometimes I think it has to happen like that.”
So why aren’t you following him on Instagram yet?