Dieter Braun – talented and beastly nice!
If the nursery is transforming into a zoo and the living room into a safari park, there’s a very high chance our artist Dieter Braun is involved.
The globetrotter’s unmistakable images of animals help both children and adults get familiar with the beauty of the animal kingdom, while opening up wonderful possibilities for extraordinary interior design.
Although he would characterize himself primarily as an illustrator, he clearly prefers the all-encompassing description of “artist” – which he certainly is! It is demonstrated by his multifaceted, colourful method of working, as well as through his understanding of art.
We ourselves first encountered these “beastly good” works of art through his fantastic wildlife book series Die Welt der wilden Tiere (“The world of wild animals”). The artist’s illustrations speak volumes; we immediately recognized the potential for a wonderful collection of wall art.
Through his use of pen and computer, he has mastered the art of depicting his animals with so much life that it really feels like a flock of colourful birds are flitting around you or a prowling tiger is filling you with the urge to hide.
His striking style, the way his illustrations are so different and distinct, and his cheerful writing immediately put a spell on us.
And because Dieter’s not just a beastly good artist, but also a beastly nice person, we definitely have to introduce him to you. We asked him to tell us in more detail how exactly he does all this.
Between retro, vintage and minimalist
The illustrator captures the features of these wild creatures in his unique, extremely bold minimalist style, bringing them up close to the viewer in riveting scenes with dedication to the appearance of each species, and with lovingly thought-out colouring.
He boils down the clear shapes to their bare essentials, consciously distancing himself from kitsch and cutesy animal motifs.
The animal subjects of his illustrations captivate purely on account of their excellent graphical rendition – which, thanks to their geometric abstraction, are somewhat reminiscent of Cubism and naïve art.
The tasteful textures, with a palette of pleasantly selected colours, give the motifs this special vintage charm; they especially come into their own as large-format posters and wall art.
With his exotic themes, Dieter Braun will spirit you away to a wondrous, wild world – one that must be protected. He himself supports the animal welfare organisation Pro Wildlife and the World Wildlife Fund, as well as various conservation projects in Tanzania, through logos and project illustrations. Great!
Old-school pencil sketches, or is it all just sorcery?
His marvellous worlds seem to come into existence as if by magic. The artist starts out with unassuming pencil and paper. Step by step, the characteristic features of the animal begin to emerge sketchily, or loosely, to use the art-world lingo.
This initial hatching forms the template for the essential characteristics to come. The pencil strokes are then transformed into geometric shapes – known as vectors – on the computer and then developed in great detail.
In the third step, the resulting areas receive their first coat of paint: first in greyscale, then in the respective animal’s colouring. Through this skillful interplay of colour gradation and contrast, the portrait gains a three-dimensional appearance despite its flat composition.
As a finishing touch, shading and the structure of the fur create gentle textures and gradient colours. A couple of specks of dust floating in a ray of sunshine here, a few chin hairs there – the puma is complete. Another vintage-style work of art with animalistic boldness!
To us, Dieter Braun is a sort of Christopher Columbus who never grew out of childhood, exploring the world with fresh eyes and capturing his discoveries for others to see.
His love of animals, combined with a thirst for adventure, a spirit of discovery and the urge to share the diversity of fauna in all its wondrous facets with the rest of us – all of this makes him a children’s book illustrator par excellence.
And it’s not just children’s eyes that light up; on the contrary, his imagery should excite young and old alike.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be an animal researcher when I grew up –
and in a way, I managed to do it.”
Something particularly noticeable (and again, very agreeable) about Dieter Braun’s motifs: the artist seems to have a soft spot for unusual animals like the double-wattled cassowary, the okapi or the turquoise-browed motmot, alongside the classic illustrations of the cheetah, elephant, and so on.
He reveals to us that he does this to draw attention to the protection of species and the diversity of nature. Of course, in doing so, he expertly sets himself apart from other artists.
His images aren’t just decorative illustrations; they are the travel log of a discoverer and thus a true highlight for children and – as he says himself – for adults who love the graphic arts.
Keen travellers and nature buffs can use the animal wall art to bring their own personal America, Asia or Africa into the comfort of their own home and redecorate the living room as a jungle then and there.
And for the kids’ room, too: a favourite motif will soon be found within our wide range of the artist’s animal images.
Fascinated by the diversity of species and on the hunt for inspiration, our artist and animal lover is drawn to distant places again and again. One place in particular is a favourite: Tanzania, in East Africa.
On safari, Dieter tells us, the couple constantly encounter wild elephants and leopards, breakfast with warthogs and giraffes, and even brawl with mischievous long-tailed macaques during the night.
But Dieter Braun loves the expanses of the savanna and all its wonderful creatures. Through his artwork, he brings a small piece of this world home to each of us, whether it’s the sunrise over Kilimanjaro or a praying mantis the size of your palm.
He’s only wary around scorpions, given how partial they are to clambering into his shoes.
And what does his workspace actually look like?
There’s definitely plenty going on at this studio in Hamburg – from a round of table tennis during his lunch break to a cosy movie night in the building’s home projection theatre.
A good time is unavoidable with the colourful mixture of creative colleagues – photographers and architects – and a necessary touch of individuality comes from all sorts of children’s books, vinyl toys and music.
If Dieter starts feeling like a trucker after long periods of sitting, he simply continues his work standing up.
“I don’t just sit around the studio waiting for the muse to strike.”
Thanks to his instinct for trends and the high demand for handmade products, we can marvel at Dieter Braun’s talent for pencil drawings as well as for graphics.
He has already artfully portrayed a range of personalities, from Karl Lagerfeld, Johnny Depp, John Lennon and Victoria Beckham to Astrid Lindgren and Pablo Picasso.
As a result, Dieter Braun’s illustrated books aren’t the only success the Hamburg native can celebrate.
The list of his clients seems endless; alongside precise maps for the Süddeutsche newspaper, he also illustrates detailed medical drawings and political bigwigs such as Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin for Stern magazine.
And he can do even more – his work can be found throughout the New York Times, TIME, the Guardian, Newsweek, Forbes and prestigious women’s magazines such as Maxi, Elle and Glamour.
The Hamburg native is such a successful illustrator not least by virtue of his commitment. Where others wait for the muse to strike, his creativity arises out of the working process itself. He counterbalances wild, free drawing with a structured plan, targeted research and photographic inspiration.
If a client doesn’t like an initial draft, he has several alternatives at the ready, enabling a collaborative process towards a great result. He’s a professional through and through.
Last but not least
What we can expect in the future from our illustrator from Hamburg remains to be seen. There are many great ideas to be found in his desk drawers; some of them are beginning to take form but can’t be revealed just yet.
There’s no doubt that his wild journey will continue and we’ll have another chance to return to his breathtaking animal worlds.
All of us at Posterlounge are beastly excited to have Dieter Braun as a member of our community and we’re grateful for this authentic peek behind the scenes! If, like us, you and your children can’t get enough of the wild animals of this world, then take a look at our selection of Dieter Braun’s wall art.
Discover more motifs by Dieter Braun