Christoph Niemann is one of the most respected editorial illustrators and visual artists right now. He collaborates with The New York Times, has designed several covers of The New Yorker (some of them are even animated), and you might have probably enjoyed one of his doodles when browsing Google. I found about Christoph Niemann when reading/visualizing this story about the Football World Cup in Brazil on The New York Times. It’s a great example of great journalism: it meets good reporting and interactive and visual elements.
His work is always intelligent, full of meaning, fun, and with a twist. Plus, the drawings are beautiful. Steven Heller defines it: “His keen ability to go beyond the one-off pictorial gag into a realm of visual profundity (…) to turn words into pictorial representations that trigger everything from laughter to tears while effortlessly illuminating difficult political and social issues“.
How talented people find their inspiration and are pushed to reach higher levels is something that has always fascinated me. Niemann explains his approach: “For each job I have a certain person in mind that I would want to like the piece (whether they end up seeing it or not). I always try to imagine that person looking at the piece and wonder whether he/she would think it’s funny/lame/unexpected, etc”(via). Actually, it’s quite similar to Jeffrey Eugenides‘s view (Middlesex, The Marriage Plot): “No matter what you’re writing, you have to think that it is a letter to your most intelligent friend. Don’t be condescending. Don’t give superfluous explanations. Don’t write for an audience or readership, write for the reader as an individual”.
You can find Niemann at Instagram, in Wired, in the financial column from The New Yorker illustrated by him, in Newsweek… Oh, and check this awesome story about the creator of Etch a Sketch (drawn in an Etch a Sketch!).
A selection of his works:
MoMA floor plan
This creative map illustrates the distribution of the MoMA in a genius way. More than 30 art pieces are displayed in the drawing, can you identify them all? Clues: there’s Dali, Rousseau, the Bauhaus, Matisse, Méliès, Mondrian, Magritte, Lichtenstein, Rothko… You can check this site where you’ll find the answers. Niemann explains how he approached this particular work: “The most satisfying ones [art pieces] were the elements where the audience and the artwork interact, like the [René] Magritte (the woman standing in front of the eye) and the [Henri] Rousseau (the visitor looking at the assortment of plants with the lion).”