M.There surely is a Nordic aesthetic; it has something to do with clean lines and a minimalist approach. I don’t feel very much a part of that tradition, even though it is still going quite strong throughout educational institutions here. I think it affected me more when I went to school.
M.I grew up on a small island in the center of Stockholm, which is comprised mainly of islands of varying sizes anyway. It was kind of like growing up out in the country and in the city at same time. I had a rather normal childhood.
M.I did like to draw, but I think most kids do. I wasn’t a whiz kid at drawing or anything. I also played the drums for a while.
M.I try to wake up early and fail miserably; I then usually have some porridge for breakfast. Take a short walk to the studio, work on what needs to be worked on, go home and spend some time doing things that aren’t related to work. Like having dinner or seeing a movie, hanging out with friends or doing what people in general do in their spare time.
M.Almost exclusively my laptop. Sometimes paint and brushes.
M.Cover of Time?
M.I’ve never been a big comic book fan, so no, not consciously anyway.
M.I wish I could choose clients! That would be pretty cool. But usually, no, they come to me. In the case of Monki I think they saw a connection in what I was doing with the visual language of the brand. I had a lot of freedom, which makes injecting some personality into the work so much easier; I always try to do that but in some cases when an illustration goes through who knows how many rounds of amendments will happen…it might end up being nothing like what I would have chosen to do initially. Rarely this will be a good thing, but it does happen. The Topman commission came through Povilas Utovka, with whom I shared studios in London. It was a collaborative effort, something I’d like to do more.
M.I guess my aesthetic in some cases would work well in Asian countries, but I can’t say I’m hugely influenced by Asian culture. Probably because I haven’t spent enough time there. It’s a market that I would really like to tap into.
M.It’s impossible not to have a relationship with technology today; mine is love-hate. It enables me to do what I do, but it also enables compulsory procrastination. I’m very much interested in what the future will bring. Technology-wise however, I kind of envision a Blade Runner-like scenario. Or 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s my favorite movie.
M.Huge budgets, big freedom, endless exposure. Hehe.
M.I like working on personal projects, so probably one of those. The most fun commission I worked on was probably for Monki, as it was applied on so many varying scales and I was given free rein within the brief, more or less.
M.My bio was written by Matt Keon who is a CD at 18 Feet & Rising in London. I’m not that great with words. But I do value originality; something I find is getting scarcer.
M.My biggest influences are all artists that would use analog mediums. I’m a very nostalgic person. I like the idea of tapping into these old ways of doing things, to transition that into present day technology. I do think it’s important for artists to undergo some sort of traditional training. Life drawing isn’t available as a Photoshop tutorial.
M.Not necessarily, future societies will surely be highly digitalized but when it comes to creating, I think there will always be a desire for analog. That has hardly changed since we lived in caves; can’t see it will in the future. When it comes to the reach of art and how we look at and exhibit art, now that’s an entirely different story. I don’t whichever tools come naturally to me.
M.I graduated from design college in 2008; I was set on working mainly as a graphic designer but realized, after some time, that illustration was a more plausible path for me to take. I still do graphic design though and enjoy it very much. I started out as a freelancer straight out of college; don’t know if I would advise anyone to do that but it’s worked out quite well for me. Worked in Stockholm for a while and then moved to London for a few years, which was really good work-wise.
M.They vary a lot, but I keep coming back to the art of Picasso, Miró, Matisse and Hopper.
M.‘m not sure…surrealist? Maybe.
M.Get briefed (usually), think about the brief, start work, think some more, create lots of things, move them around and then take things off until I’m happy with the result. Or something entirely different.
M.It’s my livelihood, so to me it’s just what I do. But, of course, I feel happy to be able to make a living of my favorite hobby in the world.
M.It’s always good to see your work being applied to new things. My Granimator pack was 100% me, the concept and everything. For Monki I had a list of things to do, which is of course usually the case when working on a paid commission.
M.Sure, I like how it allows people to interact with my work in other ways than to just look at it. It would be great to be part of creating an app from the ground up and not just do the art.
M.The personal projects are what drive my commercial work forward; they allow me to try new things out, which can subsequently be applied to the commercial side of things. It’s always a struggle to balance things between commissions and personal work, the former always take priority as they pay my bills and at times there is just no time left to think about personal work. It gets me down, but it’s just part of working commercially I guess. I really enjoy that too, but sometimes there needs to be more balance.
M.I’ve just ended up doing lots of food-related stuff for no particular reason other than happenstance. I enjoy food as much as the next guy, but it’s not a huge interest of mine or anything. However, there is something interesting about how some foodstuffs have become almost icon-like. A sausage is almost like a logo. I like that.
M.I would like to be better at collaborating, but I’m kind of a control freak. I should try it more often.
M.I enjoy nice clothes, but don’t really use them as self-expression. I really like what some fashion houses are doing, communication-wise, like Prada and lately, Kenzo.
M.I’d like to do a solo show on the Moon.
M.I remember seeing Dali’s Enigma of William Tell at age five or something and being blown away by it.
M.Different people from day to day.
M.Music definitely influences my work in some way, as I listen to it all the time. I listen to everything and I throw away way too much money on discogs.
M.II think what Matt was saying was that I want to bring out more of the surname part of my name. Everyone knows Martin but hardly anyone can pronounce Nicolausson.
M.I moved back to Sweden last year. I miss London.
M.It clearly doesn’t apply to my work anymore…that whole philosophy I had…if I ever had one…about working in black and white…, which has been turned upside down as I use a lot of colors nowadays. I don’t feel it has changed my process much either. I just choose whatever colors I like. I usually start out with lots of them and then narrow my selection down until they make sense appearing next to each other.
M.I started out as a designer and I’m still very fond of typographical work. I would say I’m half designer and half illustrator, or an illustrator with a designer’s outlook. Thinking in graphic design terms is what really drives my work.
M.I try not to take myself too seriously. Humor is a great way of accomplishing that.
M.It’s definitely a big part of my work, yes. A composition of textured parts is actually a pretty good way to put it. I work with textures from the get-go most of the time, so they’re really incorporated into my work, not something I add when everything else is done.
M.I wanted to elaborate on a chain of thoughts I had about doors in general and how much of the world is locked away from us. It’s frustrating not to have access to everything; I love entering new buildings and rooms, seeing what’s being kept in previously inaccessible places.
M.I hope so.
M.I love cinema but I can’t say it directly influences my work. Good cinema surely influences my thinking so it’s probably sneaking in there somewhere.
Interview by Ana Cabral Martins
This was originally published in
Tunica No. 2 S/S 2013