She confesses that she doesn’t choose how to create art pieces: her style chooses her. Her illustrations have lost the innocence they once had when she was a child – now, Anna Niedhart seeks, through her works, the space where sensations appear, even when this sensations are painful. Anna believes in the works of art she can hold a conversation with – perhaps a secret. Today we talk to her and, in the end, maybe her art pieces will talk to us.
If you had to represent yourself with one of your drawings, how do you think the ending result would be like?
All of the drawings are parts of my existence, but at the same time, they are collected side and main thoughts, creative flows and waste products – my means of expression, my outlet to show how I see the world and explain it. Every day is a white sheet of paper to start fresh tomorrow.
Do you remember any of your first drawings? Compared to the drawings you do now, what has changed the most: the technique or the concept?
Oh yes, I have small notebooks and diary-like drawings of pot-bellied monster families, a circus elephant with tamer – all small excerpts of my childhood. Actually, the technique hasn’t changed that much. I stuck to paper and I try to preserve my childlike intuition. What has changed most it the mental work. Each drawing serves a purpose and isn’t that naive anymore. Perhaps there are still ways to draw without purpose, but these drawings aren’t really innocent anymore. They try to please and be fashionable, etc. They are conceptually influenced and controlled by the mind.
Describe the ideal environment in which you feel most comfortable for drawing. The stay, light, time of day, music...
It is a set ritual, mostly in the evening, when the outside world comes to rest. I need absolute calmness, no distractions and no bright light. The first thing I do is creating a playlist. The first two songs are always the same: Deceptacon by Le Tigre and Hound Dog.
Drawing is a very engrossing, contemplative affair. Having the right mind-set is essential. After that, an idea grows over a long period and then it’s just about putting pen to paper, so to speak. Things turn out best when your head is no longer controlling your hand. It’s like breathing – you just don’t think about it.
A three-step process could define illustration, where the first factor would be the inspiration, followed by the actual creation and finally the presentation of this work to the public. Do you follow a similar process? What is the most exciting part for you?
The most exciting part for me is the middle. It challenges me the most, painfully so sometimes. I find deadlines when creativity has to run on schedule to be very thrilling. The process has to be available at the push of a button. Fortunately, it’s not about inspiration, you can search for ideas online if necessary. I consider the final presentation part to be very important, too. I’m happy when it’s done!
What do you do when you cannot or do not want to draw anymore? When is it all too much? What do you turn to?
That was an unimaginable scenario for a long time – the fear of emptiness. It was a process of finding a balance between letting yourself go to the emptiness and to consider it as something meaningful, to enjoy it as a way of recharging. Meditation has helped me no longer fear the void, so I can fall into it and see what’s slumbering inside. I also like to meet friends and I distract myself with projects, work and even cleaning up.
You have a very particular style, which makes it easy to distinguish and identify your artwork. Most of it represents human figures or imaginary, undefined sets that normally flee the conventions and ideals of beauty. What are you trying to convey through this characteristic style?
If I knew that, I would draw something else. Besides, I didn’t choose this style; it chose me, like a character trait. In fashion and online in general, where everyone is trying to stage things as perfectly as possible, I try to make the viewer pause over my pictures. I like to scratch on the beautiful surface of perfection and look for a sore spot between the beauty. That’s the point where feelings occur. It may hurt. A visual confusion takes place. The eye is fixated and thoughts begin to run in circles. Anything else would be instantly forgotten and insignificant.
In addition to being an independent artist, you are also co-founder of Rainbow Unicorn, a studio for art and web development. Tell us about what you bring, and what brought you to join this project.
The Rainbow Unicorn Studio originated from a long cooperation between friends. Our team consists of two code developers and me. I am the visual designer. After a few agency projects, we decided to get together and develop a dedicated project, as each of us tinkers on our own things, such as music, interactive stuff, etc. The last major project was the D3lta photo app.
What inspires you outside the art world that helps you draw?
I take pictures of streets and graffiti in the Wedding district of Berlin. Sometimes I also read books. Right now I’m reading Life a User's Manual by George Perec. It’s a permanent description of pictures, very special. Just the other day, I got a sports boat licence. The silence and symmetry of water provide an immediate inner peace and balance, without any effort. I would recommend it to anyone.
Do you think you need to understand the artistic piece that you are observing in order to enjoy it?
Sure, it's like a private conversation between the thing and me. It tells me its story, maybe a secret. We made a personal connection.
What’s beauty for Anna Niedhart?
Beauty has many facets. What excites me the most is peculiarity, reduced to the essential and open ends.