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THE ARTIST CHRISTOPH NIEMANN
ON THE NEW VIGNETTE FOR DCM

CHRISTOPH NIEMANN, BORN 1970 IN WAIBLINGEN, IS AN ILLUSTRATOR, GRAPHIC ARTIST AND AUTHOR. AFTER FINISHING HIS STUDIES AT THE KUNSTAKADEMIE STUTTGART, HE MOVED TO NEW YORK IN 1997. HIS ILLUSTRATIONS HAVE APPEARED ON THE COVER PAGES OF THE NEW YORKER AND TIME MAGAZINES, THE FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE SONNTAGSZEITUNG AND THE SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG MAGAZIN. HE HAS BEEN WRITING AND DRAWING A REGULAR COLUMN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES SINCE 2008. CHRISTOPH NIEMANN LIVES IN BERLIN WITH HIS WIFE AND THREE SONS.

How do you go about your day at the moment?

My great fortune is that my daily routine has hardly changed due to Corona: I do sports in the morning, and then sit at the drawing table all day long. Generally, I like this routine very much. Like all of us, I do miss the direct contact with friends.

Where do you draw your inspiration from and what has changed about this for you in the last year?

That is the greatest artistic challenge for me. Usually I travel a lot – which automatically fills the mind with new images and reliably shakes up any existing ones. At the moment I have to generate everything from within myself. That’s pretty hard when all the information I get is already filtered: everything I see on the news or on Twitter or Instagram has been seen, thought and consciously presented a certain way by someone else. I desperately need unfiltered impressions.

Which movie has inspired you lately?

Ich würde gerne viel mehr gute Filme sehen. Leider kann ich die absurde Brutalität nicht gut vertragen, die mittlerweile in fast jedem Film vorkommt. Es scheint mir manchmal so, als ob kein „ernsthafter“ Film mehr ohne eine Folterszene auskommt, und selbst in vielen Komödien wird spätestens nach 10 Minuten jemandem ganz nonchalant in 4K ins Gesicht geschossen. Ganz tolle Ausnahmen waren für mich THE TWO POPES und KING OF STATEN ISLAND.

What connection do you have with DCM?

I met Dario Suter through my very good friend (and publisher) Philip Keel at Diogenes.

What was the assignment, DCM approached you about?

The question was whether we could capture what experiencing a film can do to us as viewers in a short clip and an abstract manner.

How did the idea for the new vignette come about and what was the development process like?

The same way all ideas come about: sitting at the drawing table, trying out different things, once an idea crystallizes, moving all the elements around until it fits and then – very important! – spending a lot of time to cover up the traces of all the work that went in, so that it appears as if it all just came to us and was created in one afternoon.

What do you think the cinema audience should associate with the new vignette?

While I’m working on a piece, I’m all-powerful and can change everything. Once it’s out in the world, I lose all control and viewers are allowed to see whatever they want in it.

 

Have you worked with animation before and in what ways does it differ for you in comparison to illustration?

The disadvantage of animation is the additional time involved: I can create a good drawing in a few minutes (if I’m lucky). Of course, that’s not possible if I have to draw 24 images per second. But on the other hand, with moving images you have the terrific advantage of real surprise.

What are your hopes for the future of the cultural industry?

That artists and audiences can finally finally finally see each other again.