Waldemar Eisenbeis, or Novocircle as he’s known on Instagram, is an artist and designer from Germany. He’s known for his renditions of Disney characters, which he inserts into real-life photography. Waldemar works digitally, often using the Andana stylus to create his characters. We sat down with him to learn more about his life and work. You can search @novocircle on Instagram to check out his art!
Q: Waldemar, thanks for speaking with us! I’ve heard you’re a student, is that right?
A: Yes! Currently, I’m studying for my degree in Economics at the University of Cologne. I’m in my final year there.
Q: And do you work as well?
A: I do social media marketing for digistore. There, I do their Facebook page - we’re starting to expand on Instagram as well. I design some flyers, logos, small things like that.
Q: So you live in the city?
A: I live with my girlfriend in a town outside of Cologne, and we commute into the city every day.
Q: Do you guys have a pet?
A: We have a dog who is 13 years old. He’s a bit old now but we used to go walking out in the woods with him all the time.
Q: Did you grow up in Germany?
A: This is an interesting question for me (laughs), I don’t know where I grew up, because I was born in Russia and my parents moved from Russia to Germany. So in Russia I was the German boy, and in Germany I was the Russian boy.
In Germany I grew up in a small village with 200 people. Me and my gang, we had a lot of funny adventures in the forest. We built a lot of teepees and had fights in the woods.
Q: When did you start drawing?
A: At 11 or 12, I started drawing graffiti and it became my favorite thing to do. I saw graffiti everywhere - on bridges and other places, and had the urge to do it myself.
Q: How did you transition to other types of drawing?
A: For a long time, I only drew graffiti. Eventually, I transitioned to doing graffiti with full sentences, a lot like the quotes I make for Instagram now. I stopped making art during the years when I was training to be a sales manager. So for three years, from when I was 18, I didn’t make any art. It was kind of sad because while I had more money than I knew what to do with, I didn’t have any time. After 4 years, I found that I was losing a bit of my creativity and my feel for nice images - how colors are composed, etc. Once I stopped drawing, it was difficult to get on to the same level that I was at before. When I started my Instagram in 2015, this was when I wasn’t so good at drawing anymore, so I started off with motivational quotes.
Q: Are those quotes all from you or are you quoting others?
A: At the beginning, when I was doing them with the text tool, most of the quotes weren’t from me. Some were, but mostly I would just analyze how I was feeling on that particular day and which quote was right for me on that day. I like quotes, so I thought, why not share these with others? That was the initial idea for my Instagram channel. When I was starting out, I invested a lot of time into the account - if you remember, 2015 was the year when Instagram had a big boom and I felt that I could get a big audience with it.
Q: At some point, you began to do hand-drawings. Why did you switch?
A: I started to draw again - I was inspired by Stefan Kunz (@stefankunz, 406K followers), who is an artist on Instagram. That’s when I started thinking: why not start drawing again and get some of my creativity back? One day in class, my professor said an interesting sentence and I began lettering it - and it looked good!
Q: So it was almost by accident?
A: Yeah, and it also meant that I had no problems with copyright - because I had all the rights to my own work! This was a positive aspect which contributed to my decision.
Q: Were you always into Disney?
A: Who hasn’t enjoyed Disney at some point in their life? I’ve never met anyone who’s said to me, “Oh, Disney is a lot of garbage” (laughs). Everybody knows Disney. But there’s another thing. I was looking for things I could redraw and reimagine, and the funny thing is that Disney allows you permission to use their characters for whatever you want unless you’re making money off of them. My girlfriend and I enjoyed Disney a lot - we’d watch a Disney movie like once a week because, you know, it’s food for the soul. Then Disney (@disney) reposted the picture where I drew a Piglet, and for a while after that I got a lot of responses. I realized that everyone likes Disney, and just kept going with it.
Q: Have you always been drawing digitally or do you also use pen and paper?
A: When I started uni, I resolved never to use any paper. First of all, it’s not great for the environment, especially the graphite you need for pencils. So I bought a tablet, and this was the best choice I could have made. I started off with a Surface Pro. Unlike the other students in my uni, I wasn’t lugging around a whole backpack full of books! And with the Surface, I began drawing digitally. It wasn’t a goal necessarily, it just sort of happened that way.
Q: Your style incorporates photo images with drawings. What’s up with that?
A: There are other people on Instagram using this style - a lot of whom are better than me. I like to lower the opacity of the drawing so it seems to really belong in the image, rather than looking like a sticker. When someone looks at the picture, I want them to see the drawing as part of the picture.
Q: When you’re drawing an image, do you normally start off with a picture or do you start with an idea of both together?
A: The way I live my life, I’m not really a big planner. It’s like I’m in the water - I’m chilling here, and if the water brings me somewhere else, that’s ok. This is my lifestyle, and not everybody likes it, but it works for me. And this is basically my process for creating my pictures. Someone will take a picture of me and, looking at it later, I’ll decide what will fit in with it. I’ll look at the picture and get inspired!
Q: How long does it take you to make one of these?
A: It varies. The whole process takes probably three hours, from taking the picture to finishing the image. The good thing is that my girlfriend is an Instagram blogger, so she has a lot of experience taking good photos. She works with Lightroom to edit the pictures, reworking them and changing the color balance. At first, I used to take her photos for Instagram - at some point, she became my photographer too. It takes some knowledge to take a good picture, you know? So we’re both learning.
Q: How many different styluses do you use to make your drawings?
A: I currently use three different styluses. The first one, of course, is the Andana stylus. I also use the Adonit Ink Pro and the Dash for the smartphone.
Q: You obviously use a stylus every day. What makes a good stylus?
A: I like the rechargeable battery on the Adonit. However, a stylus which is too sensitive is actually a drawback for everyday use. For the final picture it can be really great but for rough sketching, it can be really bad because you need speed. I use the Andana stylus a lot because it’s very sturdy and durable - it literally can’t break. I can put it in my pocket and don’t have to worry about it. I can bring it everywhere, so if I have an idea for a picture I can just grab it. I’ve had times when a stylus has broken in my pocket and that was really sad because I’ve had ideas and work to do and couldn’t do anything that entire day. So I use the Andana pen about 80% of the time.
Q: Did you ever use any other styluses?
A: Originally, I had the Surface Pro pen. It was good as well, but here’s a big ‘but’: it would randomly stop working in the middle of a drawing! Not only was it expensive, but it totally got on my nerves.
Q: What do you like about the Andana pen?
A: It’s a good value for money and reliable. I look for alternative ways to draw, so having a stylus I can use anywhere is really important to me. For everyday use, it’s definitely my go-to stylus.