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Work / Illustration

Benedikt Rugar’s illustrations for the German Design Glossary use elements of the surreal to tell a visual story

“I like to keep an open mind towards the ideas that I am asked to illustrate,” German illustrator Benedikt Rugar tells It’s Nice That, of his latest project with Lambl / Homburger studio for the German Design Glossary. “It’s how I usually like to work: first to sketch out what spontaneously comes to my mind in relation to the brief, and then to grow on this with the help of my image research so that I can gain confidence on the subject. It’s very important to start with these rough sketches so that I don’t get lost in the research later,” Benedikt explains.

The brief in question was to a “develop a clear and playful visual idea for each of the glossary entries that would convey not only the information but also bring a story in.” The subjects of the German Design Glossary are broad, ranging from Typography and Bauhaus to Inspiration and Engineering, and each illustration had to perform well in a limited space. “I didn’t have the luxury of having two or three spreads to illustrate an idea, like you have with magazines,” Benedikt says.

His illustrations for the German Design Glossary are playful, energetic and at times surreal. “It was important to bring some movement into the visual idea,” Benedikt puts forward. “So I was looking for images of the subjects that I could work into some kind of dynamic tension. Something is always flying, jumping or stretching from one place to the other.”

Benedikt developed a small colour palette for these works, using at the most three to six colours – “more is too colourful for me” says the German illustrator. “My illustrations always start life as black and white line drawings, so that the visual idea can stay clearly in the foreground. Colours always come at a later stage, when I start to build in accents in the image.”

“What generally attracts me to drawings and images – and it’s something that you can find in most of my work – is the pairing of something known, something that most can relate to, with something unknown. Like a small break in reality, which catches your eye and makes you think. I like to make these games in my drawings, a story that you can follow in its surreal logic.”

“I always try to have a fun element in my work,” Benedikt continues. “Something must happen, be moving, a story be told. Otherwise, the drawing just becomes a graphic decoration. It’s the small games in the illustrations that help me make information into a visual story.”

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary

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Benedikt Rugar: German Design Glossary