June 18, 2015

German designer Falko Ohlmer deals in the enigmatic. In his graphic universe, bleak landscapes give rise to mysterious creatures. Eyes disappear and then turn up again in unexpected places. It’s a world of unravelling shapes, spiralling wormholes and a deep-rooted sense of unease. Even time is off-kilter. The grainy quality of his pictures seems to suggest age, but closer look reveals contemporary giveaways; moments of photographic clarity that only seem to add to the distortion.

Falko is pretty tight-lipped about what it all means, preferring his viewers to submerge themselves into his world and try to navigate it for themselves. We caught up with him in Hamburg, where he works, gives lectures and workshops at different universities, and is involved with legendary design studio Arndt-Benedikt.

Hi Falko! Let’s start at the beginning: How did you become a designer?

Too many boring days at school. I started doodling during the class.

What ideas inspire your work?

Most of my inspiration has nothing to do with graphic art. Generally I’m inspired by the modernism of Bauhaus but of the ideas of punk art, too. But a lot of ideas for artwork come to my mind without reason.

Your work uses quite a lot of skulls, birds and distorted faces- are these symbols that have significance?

I like to give my work a mystique and abstract touch. Without limiting to the ‘abstract‘, it always plays an important role in my art. So it confronts the viewer on the one hand with a photographic reality and at the same time with their targeted distortion. In this atmosphere of unique elements, there is always a request to define your own meaning.

Lots of your work is created digitally – how much has your work been shaped by technology?

I like to work analogue as well but I spend a lot of time on the road. That’s the time when I’m working on free projects. My laptop is always with me.

Which artists are inspiring you at the moment?

I’m reading a book about Josef Müller-Brockmann. I love his work.