Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sunday Sketching by Christoph Niemann (2016)

Books entertain me, keep me from feeling bored, they educate me, but they don't always inspire me.  Christoph Niemann's book Sunday Sketching inspired.  I first encountered Niemann in the Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design.  I fell in love with Neimann's work, aesthetic and philosophy there, and ended up following his Instagram.  When I discovered he had published a book, I could not resist.  I first thought it was just going to be a retread of his Instagram, but instead its an artbook crossed with a biography crossed with a manifesto on how to be an artist - actually, not how to BE an artist, but how to thrive as a person who creates.  I'm someone who dabbles in writing, art and music.  I'm hardly an artist.  Christoph Niemann is An Artist.  But he has great advice for us all, regardless of our artistic abilities.  For he is plagued by what plagues us all whenever we want to create, which he has broken down into "three grand themes" : 1. I'm not good enough.  2.  My work is irrelevant and soon I'll be broke.  3.  I'm out of ideas.  He then goes on to explore each of these themes through a bit of (dare I say) inspirational writing, and a lot of really quirky, vivid, and mind blowing art.  A jealous person (certainly never me) may look at Niemann and think "he has everything: New Yorker covers galore, he's in demand as a commercial artist, he lived in New York City and now lives in Berlin, he's doing exactly what he wants with this life.  But Sunday Sketching is his raw truth and proof that everything takes hard work, and everyone has buckets of self doubt about their work and place.  We are only as successful as our brains allow us to be on given day.

A terrific book for artists, but I think the non-artist, and certainly art appreciators, can glean much from this book.

Sunday SketchingSunday Sketching by Christoph Niemann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christoph Niemann was featured on a Netflix documentary called Abstract: The Art of Design, which is where I fell in love with his work and philosophy. If you are literate, you've probably run across his work; he's illustrated many New Yorker covers; you may not read the New Yorker, but you might recognize some of them, as they have become somewhat iconic. The documentary was good; his book is great. It's partly a coffee table art book of his quirky, vivid, and mind blowing art work (some of which appeared on his rad Instagram), but this book is also a biography of his life, and manifesto on how to be an artist - no, not to "be" and artist, but how to survive and maybe even thrive as someone who creates. He divides his journey into what he calls "three grand themes" : 1. I'm not good enough. 2. My work is irrelevant and soon I'll be broke. 3. I'm out of ideas. He then goes on to explore each of these through stories of his life and much extraordinary art. If you only look at the illustrations and skip the text, you are still in for a treat. But be sure and read the book too. I think you will come away inspired; he has much to say to artists, but also much to say to art appreciators and non-artists as well.

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