Crossing a busy street, having your overpriced lukewarm coffee fly off a curb-side table, or “hopelessly trying to light up a cigarette on the street corner”. Lukas Weidinger’s calligraphic illustrations capture how the quiet melodrama of an urban environment is so easily upended by extreme weather conditions.
Lukas came into drawing through the artist’s brother’s involvement in an anarchist library in Vienna, Austria where Lukas was born. “I learned at around the age of 12 about punk DIY counterculture and self-published zines,” the artist recalls. After spending a lot of time “nerding out over cartoons and comic books,” Lukas then began creating comics and publishing them.
In the artist’s latest work, focusing on increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions, Lukas uses a mix of compositional elements to translate the intensity of weather-induced chaos. In some areas using a “calligraphy pen with a rather broad stroke to incorporate typographic bits of lettering and larger gestures of black”. In others, attenuated black lines impress upon the viewer that the objects that make up an urban environment are fleeting. “There is probably something obsessive in my working process,” Lukas says. “Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing for me to recognise the moment when I need to stop.”
After studying graphic design in Vienne, Lukas focused on illustration studies in Leipzig, Strasbourg and the German city of Halle. The influence of these places is clear. “The scenes [in my work] are inspired by my surroundings and daily life in the heavy windstorms of the East German flatlands,” the artist explains. “Weather is surrounding us all time and is sometimes dominating our mood, and what we do.” But it was only after really taking notice of the wind that Lukas realised the part it plays in the rhythms of daily life. “The wind in particular is very present, and yet invisible. That’s why I focused on windstorms for a while.” Lukas became absorbed by the challenge of “trying to depict the invisible force of wind and solid matter being enveloped by the endless flow of air that seems to come from out of nowhere”.
Interestingly, the artist has opted to keep mistakes and ink stains in some of the final compositions. “Mistakes lead to improvisation, and the result is sometimes even better than foreseen,” Lukas says. “Sometimes you get surprised by the improvisation.” In this case, “the ink stains of my old dripping Rotring Micronorm pen fit well as a compositional element in this series, like floating objects blown away by the wind.”
Ever the curious surveyor, Lukas is keen to explore the effects of other unusual weather phenomena like torrential rain and heatwaves. But this interest also sits alongside well-founded concerns about the negative trajectory of climate breakdown. For now at least, Lukas is happy navigating the storm with pen and paper.
Lukas Weidinger: Weather as a Conversation Topic #6 (Copyright © Lukas Weidinger, 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That as editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design. Feel free to get in contact with Roz about ideas you may have for stories from the Global South.