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Portrait of Robert Nippoldt

Portrait of Robert Nippoldt

Robert talks to FN about his books and Studio Nippoldt
How did you become an Illustrator?

Since I was a kid I was drawing all the time, mostly scenarios and portraits – hidden caricatures of the teachers on school tables – on travels, in supermarkets, cafés, simply anywhere, and even as a court sketch artist for newspapers. Then I went to Münster, Germany, to study graphics and illustration at the University of Applied Sciences. My degree project was a book called “Gangster. The Bosses of Chicago”. It luckily found its way to a publisher, so I focused on illustrations for books.

What was the first ad or artwork that inspired you?

The drawings of my older and more talented sister Astrid. I remember the day when she let me draw the smoke of her car-picture. I was three years old and really proud to do it.

Can you outline your creative background?

Before I focused on illustration I went trough different fields of design at university. Photography, sculpture, animation, web design, typography, product design. I always loved to work in a team, so together with my sister Astrid and my fiancée Christine we founded “Studio Nippoldt” in 2011. Astrid is mainly a video artist and Christine more specialized on children‘s books. The teamwork is very inspiring.

Where do you find your inspiration? What captures your attention in everyday life, graphics or art?

I am a very social person, so the most inspiring thing to me is to experience life together with other people.

Besides that of course all evident types of “cultural products” such as books, catalogues, exhibitions, photos, posters and movies are part of a pool of inspiration. I never watch TV by the way, and if I do, it’s only for live sports events…

What is the process you go through to build your imagery?

Whenever I draw a portrait, I try to figure out the character of the person. Before I start sketching and finally drawing the portrait I read about the person, look at photos and study all available footage material. And I always discuss the results with my two partners.

How do you describe your style?

Graphically, straight, reduced, rich in contrast and in the retro-style of the early/mid  20th century.

What tools do you use? Digital? Hand?

It is a combination of both. First skribbles are done with pencil, than the portrait with ink. The corrections, colour and finalization with a digital Pen Tablet.

How do you define good graphic art?

I love interesting perspectives, a precise setting of light and shadow and an interaction between illustration and typography.

What does your studio look like?

It looks a bit like the office of J.R. Ewing.

What do you think about the fast moving pace of the world of illustration?

That doesn’t effect me very much. I am simply not very interested in hit-and-run illustrations. I am concentrating rather on my own creative research. My inspirations come mostly from historical and vintage imagery.

Whose portrait would you most like to do?

Usain Bolt, Barack Obama and the footballteam of Borussia Dortmund

What artist would you like to collaborate with (from the past or present)?

David Hockney, Henri de Tolouse-Lautrec, Aubrey Beardsley

What project are you most proud of?

My three books about America of the 20s and 30s: “Gangster”, “Jazz” and “Hollywood”. It took me six years to create them, and in the formation phase I often cursed the projects. But at the end I was so happy to hold them in my hands and so lucky to win a number of awards with them.

Which blogs and magazines do you read?

ZEIT (culture, politics), Novum (graphics) and Kicker (football)

What is the last exhibition you went to?

Fischli & Weiss in Berlin.

If you could own any artwork in the world, which one would it be?

The Diamond Skull of Damien Hirst

What would you be if not an artist?

Kids animator, musician, diving teacher, actor

What are three adjectives that best describe you?

positive, ambitious, good sleeper

What are you currently working on?

A book about “Berlin in the 20s” for TASCHEN.

Any plans for the future?

Get married and keep happy