“I am fascinated by the functional principal of simple picture stories,” says German illustrator and art director Sebastian König of his four-pane comics series Strips. “You look at four images, realise the meaning in their context and have that little film-like sequence in your head. Your brain loves to decode such things and then rewards you with that feeling when you get it.” That’s the joy in Sebastian’s work – his grainy illustration are incredibly simple, yet there’s often a touch of quirk that causes you to linger in anticipation of a payoff. Sometimes it comes, but at other times you’re left tantalisingly bemused.
Starting with a rough concept and some scribbles, Sebastian takes these sketches into his computer before “fumbling around” with vectors and converting all curves to edges to echo a slightly awkward, retro aesthetic. His Makes Click series, a collection of drawings of everyday objects like teapots and windscreen wipers, are the culmination of daily drawing exercises with the same quirk as Strips. “I liked the idea of changing or adding something in to the illustrations to trigger that moment your brain goes ‘Ahhhhh’ and something goes click, Sebastian explains. “I search for things that would normally be impossible or have a little twist. Because my style is very minimalistic, I can’t use too many details to say something or evoke emotions, so the idea has to be really to the point.”
In terms of style, Sebastian is influenced by the tactility of papercuts and cardboard, even when creating vector graphics on the computer. “I love the appearance and the haptic feel of cardboard with a broad colour palette to choose from and the special grainy effect of the cardboard,” Sebastian tells us from his studio in Hamburg. “That’s one reason I work with a grainy effect on my digital illustrations as well, they get a rougher more dimensional feel, a certain un-perfectness like Riso prints, a medium I am working with as well.”
This use of recurring shapes and “bright and shiny RGB-mode colours” also lends itself to working in paper and with paint, two processes that Sebastian is currently experimenting with. He’s just created an animated music video for electronic artist Billion One and is working on a zine, which his current obsession, 1980s cars in crazy configurations. “What I really like about drawing is, that you can create something new or impossible out of nowhere,” he adds.
About the Author
Laura is a London-based arts journalist who has been working for It’s Nice That on a freelance basis since 2016.