Alex Nowak is the latest artist to join the Smart.MAGNA team. We asked him to talk to us about his life, his style and his thoughts on illustraion:
"My main purpose is to learn more with every stroke I draw and to push forward into new fantastic worlds.
I was born and raised 1980 in Salzburg, Austria, which tourists and the city marketing department also call the “Mozart-City” or “the hometown of The Sound of Music“. It’s not easy to grow up surrounded by this kind of lore and (wannabe) high culture. Especially as a young person you’re soon fed up with the baroque fassade, especially when you know than behind it you’ll find only exclusion, stupidity and boredom. There was only one way for me to escape: I drew and created my own world.
Drawing led me to sculpturing and I visited the Technical school HTBLA in Hallein (an even smaller city close to Salzburg), dept. for wood and stone sculpturing. After a short turbulent time in Vienna I went back again to Salzburg to study film and animation, at the University Of Applied Sciences in Salzburg. Still, even there I concentrated mainly on illustration. As concept artist for a computer-game company in Hannover, I gained some (good) experience in the field of game design.
But my way led back to Vienna, where I followed another of my many interests: Theatre and cabaret. I started working in the famous “Kabarett Simpl”. But after two years of being assistant director as well as light and sound technician, I had enough good and bad back-stage impressions. So I decided to follow my wife to Hamburg and to go back to my roots: drawing. Now I live and work somewhere between Hamburg and Vienna.
It’s important for me to draw in a dynamic and playful way. I’m a very curious person and I enjoy experimenting with different styles. Likewise I also like working with clear guidelines.
Once I start working, I dont’t stop until I’m done, like an obsessed person or like a machine. Sometimes I even forget to eat. The only break I grant myself is to smoke a cigarette every hour to clear my head and gain a clear view of the work.
Concerning the contents, I was shaped by my cineastic family background. I always try to tell a story, I draw something like a snapshot and the beholder has to guess what happened before and after. I want my pictures to stimulate the fantasy and to give food for thought.
At first sight, there’s not too much of a difference between Germany and Austria. There might be more stiffness in the northern character, a rest of Prussian accuracy, traces of history.
What I like about Hamburg is its great street-art scene that makes the city look colourful and diverse. My impression is that in Hamburg urban art forms are more alive and appreciated than in any Austrian city. I love to find artistic details in every corner of the city and of course the harbour is a huge source of new inspiration for me.
I think through globalisation there are style borders you can draw along country frontiers. But I guess there are differences of value. Unlike English-speaking countries, illustration and comics are still not seen as an art form in Germany and Austria.
There are so many artists I admire. I was always inspired and impressed by Pop Art. Claes Oldenburg, Roy Liechtenstein, Andy Warhol and especially Mel Ramos influenced me a lot.
I’m a fan of Sydney Jay Meads settings and designs and one of my greatest idols is Geof Darrow. I love his detailed drawings. I could look at his work for hours and hours and will always find something new. And then there are the great old masters like Rembrandt, Pieter Brueghel etc..."