Christopher Nielsen’s work mixes a bizarre combination of primitive, naive, and slightly twisted imagery, with weathered surfaces and the bold palette of a vintage arcade. His images evoke a sense of both the familiar and alien. Mundane subjects take on an iconic, timeless quality with a delightful dose of kitsch.
Christopher has been working for almost ten years under the radar of most art directors so I thought you might enjoy getting to know a little more about this Australian illustrator.
Q: You have a distinctive sensibility in all your work that seems to reflect a nostalgia of some kind but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Is there an era or genre, etc. that fuels your peculiar vision?
A: I’m really interested in the distressed surfaces of old signage, vintage packaging and characters etc. I also love a lot of the aesthetics in latin and asian design.
Q: You’re based in Sydney but have done work for clients around the world. Has it been a challenge to expand your international reach or is geography irrelevant in today’s marketplace?
A: A good agent overseas and a simple functional website will get you started but it’s also about developing relationships with your clients and delivering the best work you can every time no matter what the time difference. I flew to New York to find an agent which is probably not something most Sydney based illustrators are prepared to do so I guess there were challenges in some respects but they all seem worth it.
Q: What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on recently?
A: I’ve just completed a wine label for Preece which has always been on my wish list, being a big fan of the stuff. I recently worked on a great campaign with New Zealand ad agency Clark Newton to do a series of ads for law firm Hesketh Henry called “The Art Of Law”. They were kooky and up for it which is nice to see in a field which is seen as conservative. There is some children’s book stuff involving interesting technology I have cooking as well…
Q: What’s your dream assignment?
A: Definitely some kids books. Maybe a big campaign for Coke, or Apple. Those United Airlines people should give me a call! I’d like to do a cover for 3×3 or American Illustration. A cover for TIME, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker. A sellout show at Jonathan Levine Gallery? I’m just being greedy now…
Q: Good budget . . . Good deadline . . . Creative freedom: Pick any two.
A: Good budget. Creative freedom. Lotsa coffee.