What things affect your creativity?
I've come to realise that it depends alot on the current season. In the summer everything is in bloom, you visit the beach and spending more time outside. The actual eye vision is much more vivid and clear. So flowers, nature, plants, colors, shapes are often things that affects me, just like collecting stones, watch butterflies and birds. Looking at the ocean, visiting new places.. Also I love to visit fleemarkets and auctions in the summer, collecting small objects and old office supplies. It makes me happy! In the winter I spend much time in front of the computor, organizing and arranging layouts. I tend to enjoy more minimalism in the winter and a more pale palette in early spring. Taking classes online also affect my creativity in a great way, as well as good books and really good tv series. Taking care of my house plants is a calm and regular inspiration to me. Spending time with small children is a blessing when it comes to get creative! And of course above all - visiting creative friends and collegues boost the creative playfulness! Like collaborating with my friend Mara Piccione in Netherlands:
Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
Well, I have been an artist and also a teacher in fine arts for almost twenty years. Contemporary art has always intrigued me, as well as the old masters. Illustration has been one of many fields in art to me, until I started to work at a museum in 2018 as an educator. Then I used drawings, colors, shapes in my own educational material. So I was asked to make illustrations for different purposes and became a in-house illustrator during a cople of years at the museum. I loved it! It was wonderful to focus in only one field of expression and create on mission. This led to freelance when I was asked to create and illustrate characters for the museums big exhibition about birds. Then I knew for sure that from now on I will only work as an professional illustrator!
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
Yes, I studied at HDK - Valand, Academy of Art and Design in Gothenburg, Sweden. My first degree was in education for yonger children, then I expand to a degree in art and visual communication as a high school teacher. I just got my certificate in illustration at Bergs School of Communication in Stockholm, Sweden 2020. I'm also certificated in Teaching critical thinking through art, Smithsonian Institute and National Gallery of Art 2019. I also got several minor educations in different areas such as artistic printing, portrait painting and so on.
Have you always loved to draw?
The alphabet and to draw was my first huge inspirational feelings. I remember the feeling of aaw when the pen made actual marks and lines on a paper - and stayed there! To me as a small child it was magic. I loved books from start and was really frustated I couldn't read at once. I was about four years old when I discovered lettering in my grandparents own handmade gate. My grandfather had welded steel formations that spelled our sir name Levin. This gate fascinated me and you coluld stand on it and swing! One day I just looked and looked at the swirly shapes and made this huge discover. It was letters! Due to my age I did't understand that some one actually had made it, I thought it was just by luck they moved in to a house that had their sir name on the gate. My joy were so pure! I ran inside the house to my grandmother and called out: Grandma, do you know what? Your name is spelled on the gate! This is a story that both my grandparents loved to tell since that day. So these first feelings of fascination and joy when it comes to drawing, writing and reading you could say is my core inspiration. It in its self inspires me to draw, I think in pictures.
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
If I choose one author's books I read so much the books started to fell apart, I'd say Joe Kaufman. The volume of five educational books filled with facts and illustrations about animals, technology, science, the human body and so on. And of course I just loved the creative Barbapapa family written and illustrated by Anette Tison and Talus Taylor. Yes, I'm a child of the mid 70's!
Who or what has been your greatest mentor?
My aunt for sure! She has always shown a more creative way of living. She was my hero as a child and teenager. She painted, wrote long letters, played hide and seek for hours, lived really close to nature, knitted colorful mittens and sweaters. I think her way of living inspired me to dare much more in my own life. In my twenties she made a small handsown pice of one drawing I did as a two year old. She sent it in one of her letters to me and I've kept it, now it's my icon or logo seen on my web page. I really would like to recomend to read and to do Julia Cameron's weekly assignemnets in her essential book "The Artist's way" that gives you a thorough insight in how and why we need to create. I read it in my early twenties and it formed me, it connected the dots and I still use the different creative methods I think. Then I whent to art school and learned how to take a step back from my work, to see it more objectivly and focus on the very process of creating. That part is really important if art is your profession in some way.
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
I live with my family and friends in Sweden. My small hometown is placed very close to a mountain with forest and wildlife. As soon as I could I left and moved to a bigger city, to first study drama and psychology. After that I lived in a couple of more cities and when our children were born I longed back to a smaller city. So since 2006 I've lived close to nature again, first in a cute little countryside house and now in the small city where I grew up.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
Yes, to me the children's play is what creativity stems from. I remember the feeling of playing imaginary plays with my best friend. That freedom and lightness that could occure after a couple of hours! I wish I still could experience that again, the closest I can get is when I create, and the hours just flowes away. One of my magical encounters as a child was with photography and on my fifth birthday I got my first camera, a small Instamatic. I loved to take photos! Through out my life I've had this inner feeling that I must preserve that magical playfulness, the inner curiosity. That hasn't always been eaysy, in my opinion our society is not helping in this matter at all. To me drawing, painting, reading books, making zines, write plays, photographing, writing stories, collecting little pebbles and twigs and so on is creativity. This has been things I loved as a child and still do. I've made some sacrifies and some life adjustments to keep the creativity active! And this is why I wanted to teach, I wanted to let teenagers know that creativity comes from within and how to keep it dynamic.
What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
I'm organised and like to keep everything sorted and tidy. I'm confident in my artistic work process and thanks to my years as an in-house illustrator I'm also confident in the commisioned work. I get energy from having a subject or area to work with! I get started in the early morning with a coffee infront of the computor, take short breakes and focus in the different parts of the production. Usually my mind is more alert in the morning, so the best way to use that time really well is to sketch, draw or paint. Or gather facts and information about a subject and so on. I take a walk with our little dog Max at noon every day. I make an effort to keep my days free of social meetings, I like to save that for the evenings or weekends. Mailing and communication with clients I schedule inbetween, adjusting to their needs. The most important thing to me is that the client is professional and has decided from start where and how they want to show the illustrations. It's essential to know the fixed framework to make the best creative work, from the very first ideas throught the process!
Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.
Now I've got my studio in our home. I've tried different ways, like sharing studios with friends, having a studio in a kind of office space, a separate studio, studio in the backyard. It has taken quite some time to build up everthing I need to work, especially the technical equipments. I still think it's heaven with new paper, pens, brushes, watercolor, gouash, ink, rulers, sketchbooks..eventhough I mostly use the computor in the end! Also I use the walls alot when I start a new project, and when I sort out the finished illustrations. After a project I like to keep the studio walls empty for a while and sort each larger project in boxes as well digitally. Still looking for the perfect way to organize my work digitally in a smart multifunctional system! In the summer the best studio is outside, preferebly in a garden with a big table filled with different materails.