Nico H Brausch on the key to editorial illustration

Dreamy and full of nostalgia, the illustrator and designer evokes the hazy visions of the 70s and 80s for clients including Bloomberg Businessweek and the Verge. He talks to us about the process behind his airbrushed aesthetic and his journey to finding a ‘style’

Based out of Trier, Germany, illustrator and designer Nico H Brausch is known for his surreal, retro-tinged work. This is a style he has developed over the years, honing his technique through art school and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Design, eventually becoming a successful freelance artist with a distinctive aesthetic. These days, his portfolio includes clients such as Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, Jacobin, and the renowned singer and songwriter Paolo Nutini.

“I see myself more as an illustrator than a designer,” says Brausch of his creative practice. “I appreciate and admire good design, but sometimes I struggle to come up with a good design myself. Sometimes I just like to visualise an idea and draw it without thinking about a layout it has to fit into.”

Despite this, much of the artist’s work involves a mixture of both mediums, with Brausch explaining that “designing a poster, a CD or a record combines the two disciplines from the very beginning.” He continues: “The whole process is a tug of war. What direction to go in? What colours? What fits the mood and how can the type, and especially which type, support that? And then I end up throwing it all out and doing it completely differently.”

Top: Editorial illustration for the Verge; Above: Album artwork for Lo Inmanente by Tangram