Niklas Wesner's line-based works come up from his desires and his childhood

The Hamburg illustrator Niklas Wesner says that a lot of his work deals with emotions and the process of translating feelings into visuals. "There is infinite potential because you can never really capture it and there are endless variations, as if there were never enough love songs," says Wesner. “I'm also interested in how style can emphasize simple things like everyday life or objects. They can also be a good vehicle for emotions. I want to explore more in that direction. I like it when images are strange or mystical. "

Wesner prefers his paintings to be clean and unassuming and not "too petite or fussy". “I also like a lot of realism mixed with abstraction. Or a fictional space as a kind of stage, ”he says. “I also like to arrange scenes like a director and tell stories through them. Like showing a person in a certain situation with the necessary things and letting this evoke an emotion in the viewer or letting them think about what may have happened. Sometimes I also like to mix in surreal elements, like in a dream. For me, taking pictures is a bit like dreaming. "

Above: intimacy. Above: eyes in the big city. All pictures: Niklas Wesner

The illustrator's work is largely based on lines and that's what he focuses on first when creating an image. He sees her as the skeleton of the picture. "I like bold colors, but I wouldn't say my style has specific colors as I like to change them up and choose them based on what I want to express," he says. “I enjoy choosing a strong color. But sometimes it's not good for the picture and there has to be a balance. "

Inspired by music like The Velvet Underground, Wes Anderson films, books by Murakami, James Joyce and Pynchon, Wesner's style is also heavily influenced by his childhood. Elements from comics, manga, anime like Ghibli and Akira can be found in his work, and more recently the illustrator has also sought inspiration from artists like Peter Doig and Katsushika Hokusai.


Ideas come to Wesner from the smallest things, like a leaf falling from a tree, or sometimes when he falls asleep, the most vivid images come to him. “Sometimes I have to turn on the lights and draw them in a sketchbook. Then I go back to bed just to have the next idea and I have to get up again. This process repeats itself, ”he explains.

“In daylight, some of these ideas don't seem to make much sense, or they just aren't as good as they are at night because the nuances of the sketch don't match the idea presented. But I can then recall some ideas and put them into practice. "

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In addition to personal projects, the illustrator also takes on editorial assignments, which he finds more time-saving and less complicated once he has received a topic to grasp. “When I work on assignments, I take pictures that I wouldn't have taken myself. Sometimes it's just the theme, sometimes the customer wants certain elements in the picture and I have to try to make it look as beautiful as possible. This is a challenge and broadens my horizons for what is possible. It also gives me the nice feeling of solving problems, ”says Wesner.

“It builds confidence in me and my ability to work on something until it's beautiful, even though at first I thought it would look bad. I tend to learn more and to surprise myself more when working on assignments. "


Working alone most of the time, Wesner says the hardest part of becoming a freelance illustrator is maintaining the confidence he has and is capable of in himself. “Even if no commissions are received. It is a challenge to stay calm in these times of uncertainty. Stay motivated and keep working on my portfolio and pushing myself to develop as an artist, ”he says.

“And to keep it fun. Because when the fun wears off, it leads to a dead end. Always keep the joyful feeling of being your guiding light. "

Time flies

Wesner shares much of his work on Instagram and he hopes people will feel similarly to how they felt when creating the pictures.

"Sometimes I really want my pictures to have a similar impact on me as some songs do," he says. “When I bring out these aesthetic things that mostly capture our emotions and connections with others, I hope to contribute to the greatest part of humanity. It might sound a little cheesy, but I want to be part of something that will remind us of what it is to be human and what it means to live. "