There’s little to no chance you haven’t come across a Christoph Niemann illustration during your lifetime. The acclaimed artist, author, and animator is commonly referred to as the world’s best illustrator, and for good reason. His work regularly appears on the covers of top tier publications like The New Yorker, National Geographic, and The New York Times Magazine. He’s also drawn live at the Venice Art Biennale and the Olympic Games in London and sketched the New York City Marathon — while actually running it.
An illustrator super-star, Niemann admits that it’s hard not to get the pressure get to him. “For me, there is very often this feeling of thinking that, right at the start, I need a big idea,” he shared in an interview with The Talks. “I get to this desperate state where I feel like, ‘How will I ever make it again?!’ For me, I have to make little, unspectacular steps, step by step and then if I’m lucky it will happen again.”
His resolution? Not to focus on the big idea but rather on the small steps that lead to it. “I don’t need a big idea, I need 1000 small steps: 1000 steps ahead, 500 steps back, 700 steps to the right and then I will end up somewhere,” he says. “So, you really have to force yourself to trust that process. In my opinion, you don’t come up with brilliant ideas while taking a shower, you know? A big goal of my work is that in the end, the results look like there was no alternative as if things would have just fallen down from the sky — just like that. It sometimes still fools me, sometimes I think it has to happen like that.”
“This is an experience that everyone in that field that I talked to shares,” he admits. “The better a thing is, the worse it is next time because you will always be measured on the thing that was good.” Still, he seems to overcome this difficulty time and time again, and his hard work seems to have paid off – big time.
So do yourself a favor and follow his work on Instagram.