Illustrator Interview: Håkan Carlsson
Håkan Carlsson has made the cover art for Skelocrats’ single on EardrumsPop, and this is our illustrator interview with him. This is how Håkan presents himself and his art:
I started drawing at a early stage in my life making small picture books about a character called The Thumb. I didn’t know how to write words so I forced my mother and sister to write the sentences while I sat next and told them the stories. Since then I´v had a long love for pen and paper.
For 10 years or so I’ve been working with art and graphic design in one form or another. I started my working career as a flash developer, then through interaction and visual design, but I always return to illustration. Lately I´v been mostly working digitally as an visual designer but doing more and more illustrations whenever I get the time to sit down and do it.
My work is most often connected to music which is another passion of mine. For quite a while I played the drums in Stars in Coma and I also create own music under the name Joueur Noir. I always think in music when I´m doing illustrations and always try to have a musical theme.
My illustrations usually lands in warm and cosy colours, a kind of retro look with a lot of textures and a naive sense in form of characters and their surroundings. I always try to incorporate details that you wouldn´t normally take notice of in my illustrations.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I´m working on a large scale map of the town i live in which will be available as a print sometime in the future. Apart from that I´m also doing the artwork for the upcoming Stars In Coma album and taking commissions for illustrations whenever I have the time.
What are your favourite tools?
When illustrating: Pen and paper, ink, my wacom, photoshop, illustrator and SketchBook Pro for iPad.
Please tell us about the process of making the EardrumsPop-cover!
My first idea was to build the cover around different trees, like one tree for each season, but when I started adding and removing parts it made me shift direction an turn it more into a bigger landscape. I had no clear idea of where I was going to end up, so it was more trial and error to nail the composition. Listening to Skelocrats during the process, I got a great feeling of their melodic and catchy songs, and thought a children´s book inspired cover would fit nicely.
Is this the way you usually work?
Sometimes it happens like that, and my experience of it is that you have to go with the flow and it will eventually turn out great. But it won´t necessarily turn out the way you thought it would be from the beginning. Quite similar to writing a song.
Who / what are your greatest Visual Inspirations?
I most often look in the world of comic books for inspiration, like the works of great artists Frank Miller, Eddie Campbell and Dave Gibbons. More contemporary illustrators I like are Andrew Kolb (kolbisneat.com), Gustav Dejert (gustavdejert.blogspot.se) and Jonathan Burton (www.jonathanburton.net) to mention a few. I also like museums a lot, to clear my mind and look for new things. Market places is also a good place to fill up on new images.
Is music or other forms of art an inspiration?
Music is of course a huge inspiration. I often take a line from a song and build a story around it or make it into a picture. But music and art is so connected it´s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. I have been listening to music and drawing all my life so for me, they are quite the same thing.
What do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of different things, and I don´t like to exclude any genres. But it´s mainly indie rock and pop that comes from my speakers. I also like more mellow instrumental things. Right now I´m listening to Joywave, Teen and Susanne Sundfør while working. The swedish Jazz pianist Jan Johansson is also a favourite. His music tends to keep me focused and relaxed.
What are your future plans? Any exciting things you are looking forward to?
It´s been a long cold winter in Sweden so the thing I´m looking forward to the most right now is the spring…
What question and answer would you like to end this interview with?
I live in Malmö, Sweden, so if you catch me on street, come up and say hello! If you don´t find me, you can always follow me through various social media. Twitter: @joueurnoir and Instagram: hakannoir for instance.
I also have my illustration portfolio site over at behance where I post things from time to time: Behance.com/hakancarlsson