Imagine my delight when I came across a video showing a designer’s illustrated interpretation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading the book for yourself, this piece will give you a sampling of what you’re missing out on. The video is completely spellbinding and no combination of words I could put together would ever do it justice. Put together by Marcel Schindler and drawn by Hagen Reiling, it is nothing short of enchanting:
I had the opportunity to interview Hagen Reiling, the astonishingly talented artist whose gifted hands and witty interpretation of Hemingway’s classic totally mesmerized me. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I did:
What inspired you to make this video?
I’ve to confess the inspiration for this video was a project for a university class, the subject of which was image and communication. The challenge was to create a stop motion video of a fictional or existing plot. I decided to take the novel “The Old Man and The Sea” due to the fact that it was a short plot and I had impressing pictures in my mind when I remembered the story. Last but not least it’s a tribute for Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorites, for writing such awesome stories like “The Old Man and The Sea”, or “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
What message do you take away from The Old Man and The Sea?
To do one’s best to reach your aims, even if the outcome isn’t what you expected.
Greatest source of inspiration?
One of my greatest sources is my father, Erich Reiling. He’s an artist and art professor. This is also one of the reasons why I’m studying graphic design. His way of seeing the world and his work is a real inspiration, but I don’t project it onto my own work. For my own work, like “The Old Man and The Sea”, the book was my inspiration.
Finally the main source is the same source that all others are using for their lives and work; feelings, thoughts, moments. Sitting at beach looking at the sky – that is inspiration for songs, and also for creative work on paper. Instead of grabbing the guitar, I take my pencil and start drawing.
Why art? What made you decide that this was it for you?
The first part of my former answers is also part of this one; being the son of an artist, this way of life was rather obvious. Moreover, I love to solve problems in a creative way. The concept of design is to make the world easier for the consumer, to make life more comfortable by creating it more attractive. This is what I like to do.
Hypothetically: you have to choose one colour to use for the rest of your life as an artist. What colour and why?
My decision would be black. Black for being able to represent most of the other colours, for being neutral, and shaping white. You can do almost everything with black. If there’s black, there’s also white. If I’m drawing a rose, and shading the shape with small black lines, you would recognize that this rose must be a red one. Leaving out most of the shades it would be a white one and shading the whole rose would transform it into a black one.
Drawing scenery of a summer day at the beach in black and white, in the viewers mind all elements would receiver their familiar colour. The sea and the sky are blue, the sun is yellow, the sand beige, and so on. Therefore I would choose black, for being able to illustrate everything.
I decided to go one step further and challenge Hagen in my own way. I gave Hagen the sentence “Put the ocean in an envelope and send me serenity” and asked him to interpret this visually. What he sent me was so much more intense and amazing than I expected:
Not only is Hagen a brilliant talent but his unique way of interpreting and looking at the things around him is perfectly refreshing. In my world, people who dare to take things that already exist (and have existed for a while), and interpret them in their own way are true innovators. The beauty of literature is that each person perceives the story, characters, and settings in a unique way. So for obvious reasons, this experiment was interesting for me: getting a glimpse into Hagen’s mind and seeing how he pictured Hemingway’s work and then hearing him explain the mindset behind his perceptions.
Most striking for me was hearing him explain how he draws inspiration from common things and channels this into his own creativity. Sitting on a beach and looking at the sky motivates him to capture it with lines and shades, but would motivate me to capture it with verbs and metaphors. Inspiring things inspire, but they inspire different people in different ways.
One of the simplest pleasures in this world is that of meeting and befriending interesting people. I hope to bring many more interesting people to the table through Connections, and I’ll most certainly be working with Hagen again.
P.S Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Hagen Reiling is currently attending FH Düsseldorf studying graphic design. He has gained much industry experience from holding positions at a wide variety of professional establishments including graphic agency idea.com, newspaper Pforzheimer Zeitung, and print office STARK Druck. Aside from design, Hagen also enjoys photography and we can certainly expect to see more great work from him in the future.