Around this time two years ago we spotted illustrator Klaus Kremmerz, pens in hand, making some of the most eye-catching artworks ever created with a fuzzy felt tip. Since then, Klaus has been busy illustrating works for publication after publication, from The New Yorker to The New Yorker Times. With a wealth of commissions under his belt, Klaus has now took some time out to create his very own publication, visually interpreting John Cheever’s short story The Swimmer, from 1964.
A “masterpiece” Klaus has always been in love with, the narrative of The Swimmer was Klaus’ first thought when Portuguese publishers Stolen Books asked him to make his own book. “It’s an intense story,” the illustrator tells It’s Nice That of the short, originally published in The New Yorker before being adapted into a film in 1968. In discussing an individual’s dependence on alcoholism, “of which the protagonist is a victim,” The Swimmer’s storyline gradually takes a darker and darker turn which in Klaus’ words is “poignant and dramatic, but at the same time fresh and full of vitality.”
Utilising The Swimmer’s twisting and turning narrative Klaus began each illustration in the book by focusing “my attention on the water, of course,” figuring out how to use the visual metaphor to display differing feelings in each illustrated panel. For instance, in one page the protagonist stands alone in an empty pool with an overwhelming landscape towering over him, another is more tranquil as Klaus illustrates the character calmly swimming through the water in his classic shapely felt tip filled textures.
Other objectives of Klaus’ while illustrating were to give the book’s illustrations a cinematic feeling, playing with perspective, often drawing pools from alternate points of view either making them appear welcoming or quite daunting. To achieve this he began by sketching a landscape first, then colouring them in carefully, meaning the whole book took four months to complete.
A fine example of how an illustrator can work with narrative to build upon an original story, Klaus’ version of The Swimmer is available via Stolen Books here.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.