Flip Flop Flying

Mein Berliner Würfel / My Berlin Cube

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I thought maybe possibly it could be interesting to a handful of you to see the thought process behind doing something. That something is this:

So basically, that is a drawing of Berlin. It’s specifically my Berlin. It’s not really meant to be a tourist-y landmark-y image of Berlin (although there are several easily-recognisable elements), but it’s more a drawing of the city that mean something to me, from my time living there. A couple of weeks ago, I had no plan to do such a drawing. This is how it came to be.

I don’t really do much isometric pixelly stuff. I like drawing things flat. But I was doodling and fancied doing a nice isometric cube. That idea evolved a touch into doing two cubes, the colours of a pencil/ink eraser. Moving those pink and blue cubes around in the Photoshop document lead me to the idea that they could be attached to each other by a pole up the middle. And then that pole became red and white like the top of the Fernsehturm in Berlin.

I thought about animating the upper cube so that it moves up and down the pole. I did a quick base for the drawing with some green squares, and added wooden stilts for the bases of the cubes. At this point, I was wondering if I could do a tower of different architecture styled cubes on top of the stilts. For some reason, I started thinking about a Web site design project I worked on when I worked for Defcom, a Web design company, in Berlin. The project was for a record label and I did some pixel drawings for the fairly minimal pages of the site.

Looking at old drawings from, like, 15 years ago, and I still kinda liked the U-Bahn entrance steps. So I cut and pasted them into my new drawing.

And this was the point when the eraser cube idea gave way. I thought about doing a drawing using patterns or elements of Berlin.

I added U-Bahn trains that left the cube on simple bridges. I added the some of the blocks from the Holocaust Memorial, and an old drawing of a self-ketchuping hot dog statue. Started working on other bits, too.

Because the idea had developed, I didn’t really want to be staring at a dark screen for the whole project, so I made a lighter gradient for the background.

Things changed and moved around. On the lighter background, the U-Bahn bridges looked a bit rubbish. See:

So I go rid of them. and kept on keepin’ on…

Adding things…

Moving things around…

Changing things so similar things aren’t too close to each other…

I tried re-introducing a dark background, but now, it didn’t feel like a dark drawing.

And that was that. Finished. (This image is slightly re-sized to fit the column here on the blog. You can see it real size here.)

Here’s some close-ups of various parts:

And should be interested to know exactly what you are looking at, here’s the full image again and below a list of all the elements:

Top layer clockwise from the back: Neue Nationalgalerie; Holocaust memorial; Bebelplatz; one of the many table tennis tables you find in the parks of Berlin; my lovely dog Billy near a big skip of trash in Mauerpark where we used to go every day; the fountain at Strausberger Platz; the U-Bahn entrance (slightly amended from the drawing mentioned previously, now it looks like the one at Ernst-Reuter-Platz); part of the Soviet war memorial at Treptower Park. And, obvs, the Fernsehturm in the middle.

First level (left to right): Part of the Palast der Republik, the old DDR parliament building which was being demolished when I arrived. Took a while, but is now completely gone; Mr Dead & Mrs Free, my favourite record shop in Berlin; Oscar-Niemeyer-Haus; the now-closed Knaack Club; and the also now-closed Negativeland video store on Danziger Straße.

Second level: a couple of the photoautomat booths that you see around the city; U-Bahnhof Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz; International Imbiss, a döner kebab place on Kottbusser Damm, just around the corner from an apartment I lived in; a Zigarettenautomat–cigarette machine–something I loved back in the day, so very handy; Zur Fuchsbau, a bar close to an old apartment; and the old white metal facade of the Galeria Kaufhof at Alexanderplatz.

Third level: lovely tiles at Paradestraße U-Bahn station; the old Tresor on Leipziger Straße with Volksbühne posters on the front; a Robben & Wientjes box, something you get used to when you live in Berlin, because you move house, and every time I did so, I rented a Robben & Wientjes van and bought their boxes, too; the Blinkenlights project on the Haus des Lehrers in 2001; and finally Alexanderplatz U-bahn station.

So yes, a whole load of lovely warm nostaligia for a city I love that is very very far away.

Written by Craig

February 29th, 2016 at 11:24 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah

5 Responses to 'Mein Berliner Würfel / My Berlin Cube'

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  1. A beautiful piece of work, elegantly explained.

    Peter grundy

    29 Feb 16 at 12:04

  2. Thank you, Peter.


    29 Feb 16 at 12:06

  3. This was fun to read and look at. I used to love the stadium lights at mauerpark – they had a sort of Gerry Anderson quality that the five-year-old-me thought the future would look like. Berlin was good like that in general.


    29 Feb 16 at 12:12

  4. Thanks, Ed. Indeed, loved those lights. Did a drawing a few years back: http://flipflopflyin.com/muchfuckitsdrawing/44-1x.jpg


    29 Feb 16 at 12:18

  5. I don’t know Berlin, but this makes me happy.


    29 Feb 16 at 17:28

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