Christoph Niemann’s “Time for Reflection”

When the mercury rises and the asphalt simmers in the heat, those who can seek the cooling proximity of water, whether at the nearest fire hydrant or at the beach. In his cover for this week’s issue, Christoph Niemann captures the essence of summers on the shore.

You live in Germany, which doesn’t appear on most people’s lists of places for a beach getaway. Are there any spots you think the rest of the world should know about?

Germany has more coastline than Portugal, nearly fifteen hundred miles of it. On the North Sea, there are wide beaches with amazingly fine sand—no palm trees, though. When I was a kid, my family often went to the island of Borkum, where we spent weeks bodysurfing and building sandcastles, even on the many days when it would rain.

Would we find you diving into the waves, or camped under an umbrella with a good book?

Definitely diving into the waves! I was thinking about the perfect vacation moment: when you go for the first swim, wait for a large wave, jump up, quickly turn around, and the very tip of the wave slaps you in the neck. This is it!

You’ve drawn your fair share of waterscapes. Do you have a strategy, or is each time new?

Water is a bit like the human face: the more time you spend with it, the more variety you discover. It is both transparent and reflective; everything changes depending on the time of day, the light sources, or what’s on the horizon. I mostly approach water from the side. This way, I have a strong perspective with large elements up front and a finer texture in the back. I keep trying to analyze what happens optically, but it’s as futile as trying to develop a formula for playing chess.

When current events drag down your spirits, how do you create funny and beautiful images?

I stick to my drawing routine. Drawing is mentally and even physically draining. It’s the one time when I can truly tame my thoughts. Of course, no pretty illustration of a sunset (or witty political cartoon, for that matter) has ever changed the mind of a Supreme Court Justice or a warmongering politician, but I believe that art creates empathy and serves a small but important purpose.

For more covers featuring the beach, see below:

Find Christoph Niemann’s covers, cartoons, and more at the Condé Nast Store.

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