Volkswagen Magazine


From concept to creation.

How might an artist with a keen appreciation for style and form reimagine the sweeping lines of the Scirocco R? Das Auto decided to find out if one masterpiece can beget another.  

Interview by Paul Rodger 

All cars begin life with the touch of a pencil to paper (or, these days, the touch of a stylus to screen).

Many cars are designed perfectly adequately to do little more than the bare necessary. Others, like the Scirocco R, with its low profile, broad stance and purposeful presence, rise above the dross and attain something of the sublime. Few cars can deliver style and speed in such a thoroughly complete package.
If the Scirocco R’s good looks are its calling card – and that’s not to take anything away from its stunning performance on road and on track – how might they be reimagined by an artist with a canny eye for style?
Das Auto enlisted talented Adelaide-based artist Nahum Ziersch and briefed him to let loose on a modern style icon.  

DAS AUTO: How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Nahum Ziersch: I guess the ‘art seed‘ was planted from pretty early on by growing up in a creative household. My mum did a lot of pottery/clay work and my dad still actively paints and creates sculptures to this day.

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember – and I’ve been illustrating professionally for about 15 years now. I majored in Visual Communications at university, but afterwards I was pretty much left to find my own way, as the course didn’t really help illustrators make a jump from studying full-time to being in work full-time. It’s not like you can look in the careers section of the newspaper and find a heap of illustrator jobs!

I’ve done the hard yards to get where I am now – doing the mundane and interesting jobs along the way. It took about four years to really build up my client base to a point where the work just comes to me naturally now. It’s something I’m proud of because I know it says something about my work ethic and the attitude I apply to each project.  

Nahum Ziersch.

» I’ve done the hard yards to get where I am now. «

Nahum Ziersch, artist.

DA: Tell us about your creative process. How do you turn a blank page into a finished piece of artwork?

NZ: I generally take in all aspects of the brief that I can. Often I’ll hear something from my client that instantly triggers an idea or thought process. This often leads me straight to my sketch book or the computer where I start on some very loose sketches and try to find a composition I think will work.

I predominantly work in the digital format these days (using a drawing tablet screen). It allows me to get things done a little quicker, especially when there’s editing or colouring to do. Linework still takes most of the project time – there’s no shortcut when it comes to that! 

DA: What projects have you worked on over the course of your career? And what subject matter do you most like to work with?

NZ: Some of my first work was on a series of pilot-style cartoon animations. It was a great learning curve for me, but the downside was the hours and pay, something I never wish to revisit, ha!

I’ve done numerous jobs working on background artwork and character concepts over the years for animated TV ads and various TV series for kids. My other main work involves publishing, comics, gaming and sports projects. I’ll do anything from cover designs and illustrations for junior novels/readers, comic pin-ups and covers, to computer game artwork, sports branding and character design.

More than anything, I love working on projects that allow me to explore my own ideas. The comic work is great for that. And this project for Volkswagen I definitely put in that category, too. 

DA: Where do you derive inspiration from generally?

NZ: It’s kind of lame to say, but I think my inspiration comes from everywhere. My mind takes in so many things without knowing that some ideas might stick for good, while others can be forgotten right away.

I think my main influence comes from other illustrators’ work – there is always something new that makes me think: ‘Wow, that’s cool’. It can be the simplest thing at times, but it can be enough to make my ideas start to flow.  

DA: What were your initial thoughts on how to approach the Scirocco R?

NZ: Getting those first ideas down proved challenging. I wanted to best capture the essence of what is a sporty vehicle without doing anything clichéd.

The Scirocco R is such a sweet-looking car, so I instantly wanted to capture the car from a low angle and convey a sense of speed and power. In the end, it was the name that inspired the final artwork.

Not knowing much about the meaning of the word, I discovered that a ‘scirocco’ (or ‘sirocco’) is a hot, dust-bearing wind that crosses large sections of the Mediterranean (Malta, Italy and Greece, for example). I visualised a huge dust storm with a golden God-like figure (of my own creation) sparking life into the car and giving it speed and power. 

Like Nahum’s style? You can find out more about his work here:

a collection of his most recent work:

» I predominantly work in the digital format these days. « 

Nahum Ziersch, artist.

DA: And the Nurburgring element?

NZ: That’s a nod to Volkswagen’s German heritage – and to the racing element of the car. Being such a sporty model, I wanted to give some indication of a racetrack and capture people’s imagination that way. 



DA: Was there anything you found challenging about this particular artwork?

NZ: From concept though to finished artwork took a solid 3.5 days. That included working up some basic sketches, choosing the best layout, creating the linework, then finally the layering of colour.

I have a tendency to overdo an image at first, so I find I need to step away from it, come back with fresh eyes and then remove elements that don’t suit the composition. It means a lot of what I draw is scrapped or erased!

The main thing I wanted to capture was the contrast of the blue and orange/reds across the image. Getting that balance was tricky at times, but I think it worked out pretty well. 

DA: What’s next on your agenda?

NZ: I’m still trying to work up my own graphic novel around the famous Ned Kelly story, but one in which Ned actually escapes back into the bush with his posse. Their tale of survival ends up involving a group of very frightening fantasy-based creatures and characters they had no idea existed in their world. I’ll finish it one day! 

Drawing aside, you can find me spending time with my family, playing basketball and enjoying some downhill mountain bike riding. 



For more about the Scirocco R, check out the Volkswagen Performance Range at: 

The numbers that matter

Model: Scirocco R

Engine: 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged direct injection petrol

Transmission: 6-speed manual; Optional 6-speed DSG

Max. power: 188kW

Max. torque: 330Nm

0–100km/h: 6.2 seconds (manual) and 6.0 seconds (DSG)

Average fuel consumption (combined): 8.1L/100km (manual) and 8.0 (DSG)*

* Fuel consumption figures according to Australian Design Rule (ADR) 81/02