Christopher Nielsen’s weathered surfaces take inspiration from vintage design. Tin toys, Mexican wrestlers, Route 66, Matchboxes, Medical Charts and Indian Goddesses all jostle for attention amongst the flotsam and jetsam in his flip-top head. These scratchy retro images have been adopted by wineries, zoo’s, radio stations and fish mongers from around the globe. He toils by lamplight in a warehouse studio in Surry Hills, Sydney surrounded by Pez dispensers, Chinese masks and several other odd illustrators.
Here’s a snippet from an interview Christopher did with Outline Magazine. You can read the full article on Christopher’s blog here.
How long have you been working as an illustrator?
More than 10 years. I started putting together a portfolio and setting my own briefs whilst working at an art shop. I experimented with style and materials, trying to find a voice. A few kind AD’s took pity on me and that gave me enough encouragement throughout the years of toil in art shops and cafes to keep adding to the folio and go full time.
You have a very distinctive style inspired by vintage design and advertising from various cultures. How did this style evolve?
In a nutshell, I really dig old stuff that informs what I do. Old stuff looks like it has a story to tell. It makes you want to lean in and listen to it. Unfortunately I have the dress sense of a 75-year-old man as well. My style is hopefully always evolving gradually without outwardly appearing to do so.
Thanks for indicating that you think I have a distinctive style, I take that as a huge compliment. I’m a bigger subscriber to the idea of having a unique style as opposed to the ‘illustrator with many hats’ camp and believe that unique voices are what this industry needs.
Texture has always played a big part in whatever I do. I just really enjoy getting stuck into a surface and giving it some character (not saying how!)
For some reason I’m drawn to vintage design and I love pushing acrylics around and I just try to combine the two. If you can incorporate your loves into your art then your work is going to benefit from it. I always tell students to make each work personal, even if it’s some dry piece on self-managed super funds.
Do you have any advice to impart to your fellow illustrators?
Find your personal voice. Make mistakes. When you have voice put together a quick, concise portfolio online.
See Christopher Nielsen’s full portfolio here.