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when robert jahns isn’t traveling around the globe photographing an exotic mangrove forest in koh yao noi or sitting on a skyscraper’s edge in new york, he’s behind the computer, carefully crafting otherworldly landscapes that could only exist in our wildest dreams. the hamburg-based digital artist is best known as nois7, an instagram phenomenon whose collaged compositions of surreal cityscapes and hypnagogic natural panoramas have amassed more than 800,000 loyal fans. a seamless blend of reality and fantasy forms awe-inspiring and amusing scenes, like a whale swimming through the canals of venice, or an elephant weightlessly lifted on a bundle of colorful balloons. 

 

designboom spoke with jahns about using instagram as a platform for his work, the process in making each composition and the everyday things that feed into his creative practice. 

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a small tent hovers high above a rocky natural landscape  
image © nois7 (also main image)

 

 

 

designboom: how long have you been using instagram, and what do you like most about it as a platform for your work?

 

robert jahns: I’ve been on instagram for four years now. the community is just amazing. I created my account because I wanted to receive feedback on my work, and with instagram that was possible pretty easily. also the platform is huge, with over 400 million monthly active users, so there is a great chance to build a large audience. whenever I finish a new artwork, I first publish it on my instagram account.

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a huge bundle of balloons lifts an elephant above new york city 
image © nois7

 

 

 

DB: what are the initial stages involved in creating a composition? where do you draw inspiration from?

 

RJ: first of all, I need the concept or idea. I have a massive image archive from all my travels so whenever I need a specific image there’s a good chance that I already shot it. a great part of my work is collaboration. I have collaborated with many photographers from all over the globe, which helps me create my artwork. I’m inspired by everything that surrounds me, I listen to a lot of music and I look through thousands of images a day. traveling is also a great way for me to get inspired.

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a single rainbow colored umbrella emerges among a sea of black ones on the brooklyn bridge  
image © nois7

 

 

 

designboom: are there particular themes or concepts that you are looking to express?

 

RJ: what is most important for me is to make people feel something when they see my images. I always tell a story with my artworks and try to inspire people to think positively. in general, I like to create surreal images which look realistic so you never know if an image is real or not, which makes it exciting.

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a man dangles over the edge of the eiffel tower in paris  
image © nois7

 

 

 

DB: how long does it typically take to edit a single image, and what are some of the tools you use?

 

RJ: it takes at least two hours; this always depends on the concept. the artwork with the rainbow umbrella in between all black umbrellas on the brooklyn bridge for example took me three days. I’ve been using photoshop for 15 years, lightroom, and also apps like artstudio and vsco cam.

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a rollercoaster dips high above the natural terrain  
image © nois7

 

 

 

DB: what is the most challenging aspect of creating your work?

 

RJ: I want to stay unique. the most important thing is a seamless execution of the concept — it has to look realistic, which is always a challenge.

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a footbridge connects to an illuminated dwelling built into the side of a tree 
image © nois7

 

 

 

DB: do you have a particular composition that is your favorite, or one that stands out to you?

 

RJ: I have a bunch of favorites — one of my favorites is the rainbow umbrella on the brooklyn bridge, the new york city elephant and the frozen venice series I did.

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the famous canals of venice are frozen over  
image © nois7

 

 

 

DB: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

 

RJ: I’m totally fascinated by travel. in 2015, I traveled once around the globe in 100 days — the earth has so much to offer. I took over 450gb of images, so there will be many more artworks coming which are inspired by those trips. you can see the original shots from my travels on my alternate instagram account, as well as my youtube channel.

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feet dangle high above times square at night 
image © nois7

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a sandstorm heads to paris’ city center 
image © nois7

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a skateboarder looms dangerously close to the edge of a building 
image © nois7

 

 

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