Dive into these Mesmerising Visualisations of the Relationship between Earth and Sky

“I don’t always walk away happy with what I’ve created, but I almost always feel like using my time creatively is good for me.”
- Niko Christian

The mystery of the moon and the universe, the excitement of making a wish after seeing a shooting star or the fun of simply spotting animals in the clouds’ shapes – there is a unanimous feeling of curiosity that overcomes humans when staring into the sky. Digital artist Niko Christian has picked up on this fascination in his work, and his steadily growing followership acknowledges his talent of visualising the connection between humans, earth and the sky.

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Playing with the colours of sunrises and sunsets and adding rays of light or geometric elements, Niko has found several ways of expressing the ways in which clouds, the atmosphere and the ground below interact. Sometimes inspired by his family, music or books, Niko’s means of approaching and creating art are as diverse as his feelings during this process.

We got the chance to find out more about Niko and his art in a thought-provoking and personal interview.

THE PLUS: Your images always capture the sky. What fascinates you about it?
Niko Christian:
Humans have been fascinated by the sky since the beginning of recorded civilisation. They even built religions around it. I guess it depends what you believe, but, for me, looking up at the clouds or the stars can make me feel really small and insignificant, and amazed that I even exist at the same time. Besides, the sky is incredibly beautiful, regardless of any deeper thoughts about it.

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TP: Often times, you create a connection between this sky and the earth below it, using the rays of light you insert. What is your view on the relation between earth and its sky?
NC:
There is a fundamental connection, going back billions of years, between the cosmos, the atmosphere, and all life on earth. The sky has a lot of abstract, philosophical meaning for people. That’s why we call famous people or those who excel at what they do “stars”. We also have sayings like “shoot for the moon”. The connection is pretty primal, and I think it’s deeply embedded in our culture as a species.

TP: How did the idea behind these rays of light arise?
NC:
When the sun is behind the clouds, and it hits them just right, you get to see these rays of light streaming from the sky in shafts like arrows. I’ve always loved this, so that was part of the inspiration. It’s like connecting heaven and earth. Plus, I really like pixel sorting, and I thought maybe I could learn to do something with it in my own unique way, so I decided to try it.

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TP: Planets can be found in quite a few of your images. Is the sky your ‘limit’, or do you also think about extra-terrestrial settings? 
NC:
I’m not entirely sure about the sky being the limit. I like space and the mystery of it. Planets and astronauts have a surreal quality to them, and I’ve always been attracted to the surreal in art, even life. I guess I think about the possibility of there being other planets similar to ours where life has evolved, and it can be fascinating to wonder what that life might be like. But it’s not a central thing I focus on during my creative process.

TP: Where do you take your photographs?
NC:
I take photos everywhere I go. For graphic design I love to shoot in nature, or I look for interesting lines and symmetry in the urban environment. Of course, I’m always looking toward the sky. I also shoot conceptual photos and portraits, as well as street photography, although I don’t really post that work.

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TP: In your captions on Instagram, you like to refer to the music you were listening to while creating. What role does music play in your creation process?
NC:
Music is very important in my creative process. It can help enhance or create an emotion and helps me to stay focused. I choose my music based on whatever I feel like before I even start working on any images. I’m not certain how much it influences the final product, but I like to think it plays a part – for example when something suddenly pops into my head out of nowhere, or takes me in a totally different direction than I had originally planned. 

TP: You have a close interaction with your audience on Instagram. What opportunities do social media give you?
NC:
There’s an artist named Alex Grey who wrote a book called “The Mission of Art.” He’s an acquaintance of my mom’s, so I already knew his art when I came across a copy of the book. In it he says it’s important to put your art out into the world. I never really felt comfortable with that step in an immediate sense, but social media has given me a place where I can feel safe putting my art into the world. It has helped me develop the motivation and patience to practice and grow as an artist.

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TP: How does it make you feel when people react to your work?
NC:
I think it’s important to acknowledge the kindness and support I am lucky to receive, so I try my best to be responsive, even though I’m not the greatest at it. Though I hope I could make art in some form a career someday, I’m not at a point where I’m out there trying to make a living. Still, I get caught up with things like anyone. I’m always grateful.

TP: Can you give us some insight as to how you come up with the titles of your art?
NC:
I like language and I like to write, so that has something to do with it. Sometimes the titles I come up with can be influenced by a lyric, or a feeling that a song I’m listening to inspires, or just a feeling I have in myself. I basically try to find the right words to capture it, even if it might not make perfect literal sense. Language does have its limitations. And occasionally, I like to work in a pun.

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TP: You like to feature geometrical elements in your art. What are your thoughts behind this?
NC:
There’s something about the simplicity of line and form, a visible expression of the delicate balance in the world. There is also the juxtaposition of that which is created by man and by nature, and how they can be basically identical at an infinitesimal level. The shapes hold a sense of the surreal for me. Their ethereal light and diaphanous colour are almost like a connection to other dimensions through the geometry of life.

TP: Most of your work has a touch of pink, red or blue, often reminding of a sunset. Is there a connection, or what inspires you to use these colours? What do you like about them?
NC:
I just love the colours, especially the way they look together as a palette. They feel like beginnings and endings to me, and I like bringing those opposites together in some abstract way. Plus, sunrise and sunset have had a special significance for me for a really long time.

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TP: How come?
NC:
My mom does this 3 day event every year where people stay up all night drumming and dancing around a fire until the sun rises. It sounds like your average hippie drum circle, but it’s more intentional, with a big focus on pushing your edges in the context of creativity. It’s held in a really beautiful place. I started taking a lot of pictures at sunrise and sunset.

TP: How do you feel during the creation process?
NC:
Sometimes I feel hyped, sometimes frustrated, sometimes sad, sometimes inspired. But one thing that’s pretty universal is a sense of timelessness. I can sit down to work on something for a little while, and hours slip by before I even notice. That can be a really positive experience, especially if you’re prone to anxiety or depression. I don’t always walk away happy with what I’ve created, but I almost always feel like using my time creatively is good for me.

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TP: What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on new creations?
NC:
I’ve been experimenting a little bit with pen and ink drawing when I have had the time. I’m in the middle of completing a large project that consists of a series of still-life photos paired with poetry, and I’m actually also writing my first novel – maybe my only novel, depending how it goes. I also just like a bunch of average stuff like playing guitar, hanging out with my cat and dogs or watching Netflix!

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