Falk Louis: ‘I just kept zooming’

Who is Falk Louis?

Me! I am an illustrator and comic artist from Berlin. I am lazy and not especially good at drawing. But I feel that this doesn’t hurt my art. I always loved to create stuff. It started with Lego Bricks and then went on with short stories and comics.

Whenever I saw something I liked, I wanted to do it too. When Pokémon came out in Germany, I created my own monsters called ‘Dangers’. I numbered them and drew over 1000 of them and created card games, fictional video games and comics in that universe. Pretty crazy when I think about it now.

Everything in its right place

At age 10 I sold my self-made comics in school. They were very much influenced by manga such as One Piece but drawn in a style similar to that of Lewis Trondheim, who was my favourite comic artist at the time.

In my teens I switched the pen for a guitar and was completely into making music. Somehow I got back into drawing which I am quite happy about. It takes me back in time to when I was a child drawing for hours and hours, creating a parallel colourful reality full of weird creatures.

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Tell us about WO!

WO is a comic I publish online (wo.falklouis.com), somewhere between abstract graphic design and underground comix.

The challenge is to upload one full page every day for at least 100 days, which turned out to be quite a lot.

WO is basically a never-ending zoom. I started with the idea of a science fiction comic and thought that a zoom-in on a planet would be a nice intro. But somehow I just kept zooming and never arrived at the science fiction.

For me it is the same journey as for the reader since I don’t have anything planned beforehand. I just zoom in and see what new and exciting forms, characters and places emerge. This way it won’t get boring for me, and hopefully for the reader too.

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“WO is basically a never-ending zoom. I started with the idea of a science fiction comic and thought that a zoom-in on a planet would be a nice intro. But somehow I just kept zooming and never arrived at the science fiction.”

WO is german and means ‘where’. The comic poses the existential questions ‘where the heck are we?’ and the even more important one ‘what size are we exactly?’

I also think it is the first ever comic that can be read in both directions. So when it is finished you can choose to start with the last page. If that is good for anything… I don’t know.

WO will also be released printed in multiple zines and hopefully as a book if I find a publisher crazy enough to do it.

You have quite a unique style, how would you describe it, and what influenced you along the way?

I would say it is a simple and childish style, since I try to get into the mindset of a child when drawing. Basically I transform into my 10-year-old self. I like living things, so everything has eyes and at least one mouth.

My main influences are actually my laziness and my inabilities. If it weren’t for them I would draw landscapes that look super realistic but would be super boring to look at. To me it’s much more about ideas and your mindset.

Geschwurbel

In WO I also mix in some graphic design, very abstract stuff. Strangely it goes well with the childish characters and monsters. This also just happened naturally since I draw WO on an iPad in Affinity Designer. I just started to use the vector shapes and went from there.

Working completely digital has surely influenced my style—and especially my workflow—a lot. I don’t do sketches, I just start to draw right away and then change it afterwards. This way of working is only possible digitally.

I am not nostalgic, using new methods is exciting, even when I do drawings on canvas I work in this ‘digital’ way. It is way more risky than on the iPad but that’s where the fun is.

Of course there are also many artists that inspire me directly. Someone on reddit recently said that I am a Michael DeForge copyist, and he is not completely wrong. I am also heavily influenced by Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), Lewis Trondheim and Chris Ware.

Music is another big influence since I always listen to music while drawing. I let my brush be guided by the beautiful sounds of artists like The Beatles, Radiohead, Deerhoof or Four Tet.

Weird Fishes Arpeggi

How have you found working with Affinity apps?

I mostly use Affinity Designer for iPad, since I draw WO on a 9.7” iPad, which is way too small. That’s why I currently also experiment with Affinity apps for the computer.

I like that they are very intuitive and don’t feel as complicated as Photoshop. One of the main points is of course that Affinity is much more affordable than comparable software, which is very important not only to me but to everyone. Art shouldn’t cost that much to do! Digital Art should be open for everyone and that to me is what Affinity stands for.

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On iPad it’s the best app for professional illustrators as it comes with full functionality like CMYK mode, all the export options, shapes etc. Other apps don’t have that. I won’t hold back that Affinity Designer for iPad still has a long way to go, especially for people drawing by hand, the non-vector way. It is a very young app and with it come some bugs. But I am willing to accept these for what I get and the potential is there to make it a really smooth experience. I’m looking forward to the future of the app!

What does a typical day for you look like?

In Germany we plan our days strictly. Immanuel Kant did it, and look at what he was able to achieve! So each of my days is exactly the same: Wake up at 7.30, cutting fresh fruit, grinding flax seed, doing exercise, eating muesli with yoghurt.

Then I draw and draw and eat and do organizational stuff and post a page of WO and draw and eat and draw. Then I go to bed at exactly 21.30 and watch an episode of Seinfeld. I found that laughing right before going to bed makes for a better, more restful sleep.

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What other projects are you involved with?

I recently started doing ‘song-comics’, in which I put a song into the form of a one page-comic. I did two Radiohead comics which were well received by the fan community. The plan is to do more of these, and since I am a huge Beatles fan it is inevitable that I will turn some of the beautifully strange Lennon lyrics into pictures…

I also run a comic in the wonderful German magazine Neue Narrative. Besides client work I have some more comics in my head that I want to realize. But these are big projects and will have to wait until after WO is finished.

Oh and there are some top secret animation projects coming up. The future is an exciting place!

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What do you like to do in your spare time / for fun?

In my spare time I also draw. With the right mindset, drawing is the most fun you can have. Just sitting down, not knowing what will happen and create something out of nothing.

Music is something I do for fun but that’s just because no one is paying me for it! I love composing, singing and playing all kinds of instruments. My room is basically set up to record stuff, and hopefully there will be some releases this year music-wise.

I also like to watch ASMR videos and play indoor hockey. No one is paying me for these either!


For more on Falk’s work, check out his Instagram and his website, follow WO here and listen to his music here!