Working out of Passau, a small town in south Germany nestled between Munich and Vienna, illustrator Jan Robert Dünnweller has been working away on thoughtful, flowing illustrations since 2013.
With a mix of materials at his disposal – and various commissions have seen him working just as well with ink and aquarelle as crayons or an entirely digital set up — he’s built up a rather varied profile. Yet, rather than it seeming like Jan doesn’t quite have his own style locked down, we’re happy to say that his mix of approaches only encourages art directors to get in touch with him.
As a result, he’s had a busy year so far. From working on suitcase company commissions to crafting an identity for the Bavarian State Opera with Bureau Borsche, Jan’s been jumping between clients as much as he has materials and styles.
For Rimowa, the illustrator was asked for two pieces visually describing the open topic of “travel with purpose”. Working with the saying “the journey is the destination” the illustrator morphed Rimowa’s “iconic metal cases as buildings of a tropical skyline, playing with the similarity of the grooves to the vertical lines of skyscrapers,” he tells us.
However for the Bavarian State Opera Jan adopted an entirely different way of working, creating a comic. With just a libretto and the note that it should follow “a classic comic narrative structure” along the lines of the opera’s storyline, he was free to illustrate as he pleased.
In terms of more editorial leaning work, Jan has also been working for ROM, a new Berlin-based magazine launched just last summer, as well as Dummy magazine. Working on these pieces which support editorial content is a process the illustrator clearly enjoys, speaking about the context of the writer’s piece at length.
For ROM, rather than a spot illustration or opener, Jan was asked to illustrate an excerpt of an essay written by Claudia Rankine on Serena Williams. As Claudia’s piece described “the aggression and unfair treatment by referees and prejudice Serena is subjected to as a black female athlete in, as she calls it, a predominantly ‘white sport’,” Jan wanted his interpretation to convey power. However the illustrator does so loosely, pointing towards the questions Claudia raises within her piece asking the reader “what it would do to you if you were not seen and accepted as an individual”. As a result, Jan’s illustrator leaves “space for the reader to interpret the images” too.
For Dummy magazine, Jan was asked to use his imagination and conjure up images of the customers of Berlin’s betting shops. Considering the photographer for the piece wasn’t allowed inside, Jan was “assigned to portrait the characters based on the story,” he explains. “It was a lot of fun to imagine how they would look, trying to find a feeling for each one,” the illustrator continues. “I drew them in crayon to make the illustrations colourful, while at the same time keeping the drawings very loose and sketchy.”
Looking towards the future – if he ever gets the chance to take a break – Jan is looking to take more time in his own comics after working with the Bavarian State Opera, already with two zines in the works too.
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