Geek Culture, Writing and Other Junk from Writer C. A. Wilke
Spec-Art Spotlight: Niklas Nebelsieck

Spec-Art Spotlight: Niklas Nebelsieck

So… Happy New Year! Seems appropriate to me that my first post of 2020 would be a SpecArt Spotlight. Today, I’m bringing you a great artist straight from Berlin, Germany by the name of Niklas Nebelsieck. As a young artist, Niklas is already on his second career, and from the images you’ll see below, he’s excelling at it too. Anyway, onto the art and the questions.

The Timekeeper and the Altar of Ages: Final, by Niklas Nebelsieck
The Timekeeper and the Altar of Ages: Final, by Niklas Nebelsieck
Question 1

SM: How long have you been making your art?

NN: Hmm hard to say. I got my first easel when I was around 10, but back then I painted maybe once every half a year. When I was 13 I kinda started drawing manga characters I liked, but that was also just for fun. I think my oldest sketchbook dates back to 2015, I’d say that’s the point when I knew that I wanted to get good at this. There was a video by Will Terell (an absolutely beautiful comic artist) and the love and passion that he put into talking about art just sparked something in me. I guess from that point on I became somewhat obsessed, even though I only developed the discipline to create on a daily basis some time this year.

Question 2

SM: I wanted to ask what it is that drives you to create? Like, for me as a writer, sometimes random scenes will pop into my head and, this may sound kind of weird, my brain will kind of act those scenes out. It’s not quite like actually hearing voices, but it probably still makes me sound a little crazy. Sometimes even music spurs on that scene pop. Do you have things just pop into your head or do you draw inspiration from things around you? Or is it something else?

NN: Oh yeah, I can relate to that. I do have quite the colourful imagination and I become miserable if I don’t create for a while. Sometimes I see something online or outside, It might just be a snippet of an idea, but the gears in my head just start turning and I just want to make these ideas visible to others.
Another big motivator for me is learning. I’m somewhat addicted to it, especially to getting better than I was yesterday. If I learn one new thing every day, I can go to sleep happy that day. That’s one of the reasons why I started doing “everydays.” To push myself to do something every day no matter what, and I will always end up learning something from having done that.

Daily 40: Having a Chill, by Niklas Nebelsieck
Daily 40: Having a Chill, by Niklas Nebelsieck

Brooklyn Streets, by Niklas Nebelsieck
Brooklyn Streets, by Niklas Nebelsieck
Question 3
Niklas Nebelsieck as a model in 2015
Niklas Nebelsieck as a model in 2015

SM: So this may seem a little weird, but to get to know you a little before I asked you questions, I did a little search and found this little gem.

Honestly that’s pretty cool… These are two wildly different careers, and it’s interesting you made the jump from modeling to art and illustration. Of course, you could be doing both, but it kind of looks like you’ve made the jump with both feet into your art as a career. I wanted to ask what made you want to make the switch from model to artist and illustrator?

NN: Oh haha yeah, that was quite a while ago. I never really wanted to be a Model, neither did I try very hard. But one day someone asked me on the street if I was interested in doing something like that, and I guess my curiosity got the better of me. I never really thought of it as a valid career path, but not everyone gets the chance to do that sort of work and I guess I just didn’t want to waste a perfectly good chance. After a while, it became clear to me that just being part of someone else’s creative output wasn’t my kind of beer, and that I’d rather be creative myself.

Question 4

SM: Something I noticed about your art is that most of the people are just silhouettes. Even in Peter, Insectoid Assassin and The Aftermath, the people we see have their back to us. Would you say this is a stylistic choice? Or just a product of these pieces being concept art in general?

NN: A bit of both I think. I did try to put more detail into my figures for a while, but I felt like that made things a bit less interesting. I want the figures in my pictures to be someone that you could know, or at least someone who experiences whats happening together with whoever is looking at it. If we see a silhouette, that gives our fantasy room to interpret, and our fantasy a canvas to project something into.
Also most of the time, the characters aren’t the focus of my work. I don’t want them to be a distraction.

Everyday Life of Cyberpunk Cities (1), by Niklas Nebelsieck
Everyday Life of Cyberpunk Cities (1), by Niklas Nebelsieck

Big Ass Volcanic Laser Gun (2), by Niklas Nebelsieck
Big Ass Volcanic Laser Gun (2), by Niklas Nebelsieck
Question 5

SM: What’s your favorite animal?

NN: Racoons, because they look like little robbers.

Nik happened to be one of those artists that I spotted on ArtStation and just started following a little while ago. But I’ve been so impressed with his work, I wanted to interview him for SpecArt Spotlight. And I have to say, I was not disappointed in the pieces he sent me. Below is the one image out of the six he sent that I thought was really interesting to me and hinted at a something really going on more than the others. I wanted to know who the person was and why this cat was sitting in the tree watching them. So, here’s the tale…

Postapocalyptic Fall (1), by Niklas Nebelsieck
Postapocalyptic Fall (1), by Niklas Nebelsieck

The Shadowcat

Yllia huddled against the rocky outcropping. Above, the spring winds howled through the trees as the last remnants of the bitter Hela 4 winter slipped under her coat to bite her skin. She rubbed the skin where her own flesh met the ceramisteal of her cyber-mechanical leg, trying to return some feeling to the numb flesh. Pulling the coat tight, she shifted her position to peek over the ridge.

In the valley below, four bandits crept through the pines. Two of them, one armed with a salvaged spear and the other with a club made of rebar and a chunk of concrete, moved out to widen their formation. The other two held slug-thrower assault rifles and stayed back. It was basic tactics in a hunt. The forward two were trying to pincer their prey and drive it in toward the bandits with guns. Useful when going after de-gen mutants.

Or animals.

On her way to Jovus city, she’d heard voices coming from the valley below and decided to check them out. Now, Yllia scanned the area between the two forward bandits, but didn’t see anything. No troggs or grunts. Then something caught her eye. In the middle between the hunters, the ground shimmered, almost like looking through a puddle of water.

She chuckled and shook her head. Shadowcat. 

Shadowcats were a rare breed of creature on Hela 4, highly prized for their pelts. Below, the shimmer resolved into a large black cat with a long tail. Then it shimmered and vanished again. Zinchencov Industries had even had a research division dedicated to figuring out how the beasts went invisible.

A cacophony of hoots and hollers and clanging of weapons erupted from the forest as the two forward bandits started their push. The shimmer moved, bolting straight into the trap. Yllia’s stomach tightened, the poor cat had no idea what it was heading for.

No. Yllia shook her head. This was not her problem. The shadowcat was just a wild beast, an animal. Not some innocent that needed saving.

The rear bandits knelt down and sighted in. 

Except the shadowcat was innocent. And she’d damn-sure seen enough innocents die, many even at her own hands. Not to mention how many innocent people would be hurt if these degenerates got their hands on an invisibility pelt.

Her gaze flicked back and forth from the cat to the bandits. The cat was moving in close, in just a few seconds it would be on top of the bandits. Then they’d fire. And if they were only half-decent shots, they’d kill it.

“Zajebiste!” Yllia muttered as she hefted her pistol and leaned over the rocky ledge. She sighted in on the bandits below. 

“Hey, Assholes!” she yelled.

The two bandits turned, searching for her. 

And she squeezed the trigger. One of the bandits went down with a hole in his forehead. She sighted in on the second and squeezed, but that one rolled to the side and ducked behind a tree. The shimmer bolted past the bandit and disappeared. 

“You’re welcome,” Yllia muttered as she squeezed off two more rounds. Chunks of bark and wood exploded from the tree in front of the bandit. She ducked back behind the rocks just as a barrage of bullets tore into the stone and zipped by overhead. “Okay, now what? Didn’t think this through, did you Yli?”

Keeping her head low, she fired off a couple wild, suppressing-fire shots and crept away. After a few meters, she turned right and bolted. The sound of her own boot and mechanical foot crunching in the leaves and underbrush filled her ears. Almost too late, she heard more footsteps. Movement caught her eye and she ducked. 

The bandit’s club swished over her head and smacked into the tree. Yllia twisted and fired off two shots, clipping the bandit’s arm. But he didn’t go down. 

Leaves crunched behind her and she dodged to the side. The other forward bandit’s makeshift spear slid into her open coat, just missing her flesh. She hissed through her teeth as she snatched the spear pole and pulled. Yanked forward, the bandit stumbled. 

Yllia shoved the gun under his chin and squeezed the trigger. His brain vented into the trees.

With the spear still in hand, she whipped around and fired again, taking down the bandit with the club. Leaves crunched in the distance and a raspy woman’s voice filtered to Yllia’s ears. “Holy shit.”

The last bandit step out from behind a tree with her weapon raised. Without blinking, Yllia hefted the spear and threw. The weapon sailed through the air and struck the last bandit square in the center of the chest. 

A lone gunshot cracked the air as the bandit woman stumbled back, but didn’t go down right away. She looked down at the pole sticking out of her chest and coughed. Blood splattered down her front. She looked back up and locked gazes with Yllia.

“Damn, you’re…” The gun tumbled from the bandit’s hand and she sank to her knees. “Good.”

Yllia turned away just as she heard the thump of the bandit’s body hitting the ground. She took a step and her knees went weak. Her vision swam, the leaves on the ground twisting. Shaking off the vertigo, she realized the right side of her stomach hurt. 

She looked down and saw a wet sheen on her black shirt. Yllia pulled up her top and cursed. Hot blood oozed from a red, angry hole in her side. Gently, she touched the edge of the wound. Searing fire tore through her and she sucked in a breath. More red streamed out of her wound. She was losing blood… fast.

“Well, shit.” She’d had worse and survived. Yllia’s knees started to shake and she dropped to the ground. Her arms felt like lead as she slid her backpack off and rooted through it. A growl pulled her attention skyward. On one of the branches above, the air rippled and resolved into the black shadowcat. 

Yllia scoffed. “See what I get?”

Relief washed through her as her fingers wrapped around the thin cylinder she was looking for. She pulled the white and red healthstim from her bag and gave the shadowcat a weak smile. Pulling the plastic, red cap off with her teeth, a scream of anguish ripped from her throat as she jammed the healthstim against the skin next to her wound.

Icy liquid rushed through her veins. She leaned her head back against the tree, not interested in watching as the river of blood from her wound slowed to a trickle, then ceased altogether. When she opened her eyes, the medicinal nanites were already knitting her flesh together. 

Yllia looked back up at the shadowcat. The creature just stared back at her, shimmered and vanished again. 

Holding out the now-empty healthstim, she sighed. That was her last one. She’d need more if she was going to survive. Yllia turned to her left, but the forest was still too thick and she was too far to see what she was looking for. 

Still, she knew where it was, Jovus City. Or, what was left of it. She’d heard the people were gone now, and most of the buildings were destroyed. But with luck, she would find an abandoned medical center with a few supplies left.

A faint echo of energy returned to her and she knew she had to get moving. Gunshots drew attention, so did dead bodies. 

Another growl came from above. Yllia looked up and found the shadowcat still sitting on that branch, watching her. Climbing to her feet, she took her first few tentative steps and forced a smile. “All right then. Time get moving.”

And the shadowcat shimmered and vanished.

And that’s it for our third edition of SpecArt Spotlight! I hope you enjoyed the story. And I also want to thank Niklas Nebelsieck for participating in our little interview.

If you want to check out more of Niklas’s work, you can find him at ArtStation, and on LinkedIn & Instagram.

That’s it for now, check ya later. And remember: stay shiny and keep flying.

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