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Bodendieck. Hinnerk Bodendieck

by John Curnow 4 Apr 2019 21:06 PDT
Building the second boat in 1992 © Hinnerk Bodendieck

OK. You’re right. It might not roll off your tongue as smartly as 007’s, but Hinnerk is nearly as famous. Well, certainly in the art world anyway. So right there is the key to all of this, for ever since the global superyacht campaign that Martin Baum arranged, Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance have utilised Bodendieck to create some very memorable pieces.

In Australia, we first got to see his works when the now famous container image was utilised in Pantaenius’ advertising. That was just on 12 months ago, and apart from setting the scene for a campaign that would attract significant and positive social media comment, it is probably most recognised by one customer, for the very thing happened to them just as it was released.

This year’s Sail Port Stephens regatta will mark the seventh time Pantaenius has been a sponsor of this family-friendly annual regatta. Having just seen the final draft of the image for this year’s Sail Port Stephens regatta (SPS), I wanted to go and find out more about who is creating these stylish, and impactful paintings that have been the backbone of the interesting and intriguing advertising that has cut through so well, and been so enthusiastically received.

This latest series is the brainchild of Anna Baum, and Bodendieck now spends part of his week at a desk in Pantaenius’ HQ in Hamburg creating all of the gems we now get to see. The wrong zoom factor images have gone a long way to raising awareness about the incorrect use of digital charts. Yet it was a very clever Bodendieck who took an offshore image he’d made with a female helmer, and turned it into last year’s banner for SPS by making it inshore, and adding a smart little backstay flag. Of course the 2019 Sail Port Stephens banner has been created exclusively for Australia, and is unique to us, as well.

Bodendieck refers to himself as a painter and illustrator. His inspiration is drawn from 1930s art deco style European advertising, the great Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), the Impressionists, and the Hamburg based photographer, Peter Neumann, who also ran a small ad agency (YPS).

He actually commenced tertiary education by doing two years of medicine, but as he says, “At that time I wanted to build an eight metre centreboarder. So I had to earn money for the boat, and well something had to give, so I cancelled the studies. There were a lot of problems with my parents after that decision, as you can imagine, but my girlfriend and I finished the boat, and made two great journeys with her. The first was into the Baltic and to Stockholm; the next was to the Norwegian Coast and the North Sea. There were a lot of adventures that we had with that boat.”

Bodendieck would later go to Hamburg’s College of Design (whilst still with Neumann because he needed to keep earning money), which is where illustrators and advertisers come from, and not at the rival college of fine arts. So that commercial element is very evident in his philosophies, and the unassuming creator states that, “My pictures can be seen in magazines all over the world. You don’t have to go running to an exhibition or into a museum. To me, this is fantastic.”

Yet it is quite likely that his architect father could well have been the initial genesis for it all, with his ‘scribbles’ as Bodendieck calls them, being a genuine element of the way he wanted to demonstrate his feelings about what sailing was delivering to him. The rest came from the great painters, and thus Bodendieck’s own style was born.

It was during the Neumann years, some 33 years ago, that Bodendieck met Harald Baum, who created the Pantaenius we know today. Baum would become a client of his works for both home and office, and thus the friendship began.

By the time Pantaenius commissioned Bodendieck to create works specifically for them, one of the big inspirations were those created for the last of the passenger liners before and after WWII. “These pictures had a big influence on my work, because I liked the simpleness. For example, Toulouse-Lautrec, had to use just three or four colours because they were just printing from stones, and it was not possible to have too many colours. So he had to find a way to show them all, and in the manner that he wanted, despite the small palette, yet was also easy and simple to produce. Based on this thinking, I have tried to reduced my own colours.”

Apart from the aesthetics, Bodendieck also shows great aplomb with the marketing. Having created the landmark superyacht series with the giant ladies, he then created the very slogan to go with it. ‘No passion without risk’. Talking about how that series came into being, Bodendieck said, “Martin was so impressed with the concept and imagery that he asked me to create a slogan; to find something that combined the ladies with their business. By morning, and a night with out any sleep, I had it. It was a little bit longer than now, but it was something like, ‘well, we know there is no passion without risk’.

As for women and boats, Bodendieck says it may actually be because his mother did not really want his father to have one. So the art was a way of combining the two harmoniously. As we know, he would go on to build his own boat with his then girlfriend, of whom he says, “…she sails better than I do. I am sure that there are a lot of women with the capacity, and the passion for boating and sailing, just like any man would. So all this came together in these pictures of ladies.”

As for the actual creation of his art, these days it is computer generated, with a stylus and tablet. “What I did in former times was I painted in oils, and scribbled with a pencil. When I started to work for a newspaper in Germany, they wanted me to do political illustrations; I found out that it would be better, easier, and faster to do that on the computer. Working from one day to the other, you have to be very, very fast.”

Bodendieck still sails today, so his own passion is very still alive and kicking, having begun in school at age 13, before becoming a skipper at 16. He may refer to himself as a bit of a problem child, “…but when I started to sail on that boat, I was saved. I loved it and it was my best time in my life. I had the boat with a crew of eight and the sailing club was far away. I could do what I wanted; it was a great time.”

Open 8m centreboarders, called V-Jolle, are a class particular to Northern Germany that were developed and built in the 40’s. The one he and his girlfriend made back in his early years was modern designed, had three trapezes, quarter tonne style rigging, and “She was a very, very fast boat. I sold her twelve Years later when my wife and I got our second daughter, and that is something I really regret in my life.”

In a time of patching things up with his father, he got on the phone and said, “Dad. We have to build a new boat. Dad asked, ‘What kind of boat do you think?’ Well I said a smaller one - a beautiful small boat. It was more like a joke, but he said, ‘When do we start? And where do we want to build it?’ I said I had no idea, but we could start immediately. In the end we built a new boat in the living room of my parents’ house on the third floor of their riverside apartment. After three years we ‘launched’ her through the window, and lowered her down into the garden. It was a beautiful…”

“All of us, including my parents, went on many a trip to France, Sweden and England with that boat, and had a lot of adventures. Both boats I built have their own character, and are so beautiful. I still have that boat. My father died four years ago, and now the boat is mine. She is still part of the family.” No passion without risk it may well be, but this is a story that allows you to get a real handle on just what both can really mean…

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