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Christoph Niemann: The Art of Collaboration and Compromise

Adapted from What is Illustration? (RotoVision)
By Lawrence Zeegen
Dateline: October 9, 2009

“I’m a graphic designer at heart. I understand that different problems require different treatments, and that the mantra ‘form follows function’ is going to save my ass one day,” says Christoph Niemann, a passionate advocate for ideas-centered, problem-solving illustration. Niemann trained in graphic design at Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts in Germany, moving to New York upon graduation in 1997 to begin a career in illustration, working predominantly as an editorial illustrator.

“Despite studying graphic design, I majored in illustration,” Niemann admits. “I had a harsh tutor, but it was a fantastic education.” The harsh tutor was no less then Heinz Edelmann, art director and illustrator of the 1968 classic Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. It was this education that set Niemann on his path to concept-led illustration.

“I have a real problem with illustration that isn’t created within the context of graphic design,” he continues. “Being an illustrator is like being an artist without being an artist; it is not about self or ego, it is always about collaboration and compromise.” Niemann understands the complexities of working to a brief, for a client and for an end user or “reader,” as he refers to his audience. “For an illustrator, the collaboration with a good art director means that it is never just about making a picture to fill a white space on the page—an art director will always have an opinion,” he explains.

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steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

For goodness sake people!
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

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