Telling Stories with Pictures: An Interview with Andreas Englund

Interview by Craig Ledoux

08_shopping

Andreas Englund is an art director and artist currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.  His main body of work focuses on an unnamed superhero whose life, while fantastic, is filled, too, with dropped groceries, sticky jam jars, and bad clementines.   His piece, “Shopping,” is featured on this year’s cover of LUMINA.  Andreas believes that humor is the greatest vessel for communication.  His work has been featured in Juxtapoz, and can be found at http://www.artofdala.com/

First of all, I wanted to thank you for lending your work to the journal, and the cover in particular.  I can’t think of a better image to represent the writing and art within.  This year’s issue, Volume XII, features work that is bold, intelligent, and sometimes devastating, though it never seems to lose that sense of humor which is so prevalent in your paintings. 

You’ve said in other interviews that “capturing the lives of ‘perfect people’ is boring and predictable.”[i]  Ever, a graffiti artist and fellow contributor to LUMINA, says that he likes “to ‘deify’ an unremarkable person.”[ii]  What is it about the ordinary that draws you in?  Or, to put it another way, what made you decide to highlight the everyday aspects of this hero’s life?

This person is extreme. He’s someone who you might even have dreamed about being when you were a kid. Someone who has it all. By putting him in everyday situations I try to show that despite being powerful by wealth, strength or intelligence, we still share the same kind of ordinary problems. It’s my way of showing that people around the world, who might seem very different, on the contrary are very much the same.

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Have you begun to formulate your hero’s story over the years, or do you prefer to let the images speak for themselves?  Does he have a name, an origin story?

I guess this is my way of telling this character’s story, not by writing it down, but by creating paintings. It’s what I like best, telling stories with pictures. If I were a writer then I would probably write down the story in a book or two, but I’m no writer so you have to bear with me on this one 😉

Another aspect is that I think it’s easier to connect with a character when you as a viewer can fill in the blanks with your own imagination. Like when you read a book, your imagination creates the pictures. Here it’s kind of the opposite.

photoshoot

What are your comic book influences, your fine art influences?

I love Banksy and the way he communicates through his art. I see myself working on the same kind of foundation as he is. When it comes to comic book artists I like Simon Bisley. His technique is just breathtaking. Regarding fine art, I like Edward Hopper and I think you can see that in my work. Also, classic Masters like Rembrandt when it comes to portraits. I also like two Swedish old masters: Anders Zorn for his amazing technique, and Carl Larson whose house (which is an open museum today) has also given me a lot of inspiration for its creativeness.

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Banksy

You paint on fairly large canvasses.  Can you talk about your process? 

 I want to create scenes, like a director. In my case I do it with the help of taking photos and then, like a puzzle, adding all pieces together digitally, creating the final scene. Since the final piece will be a painting this sketch/image doesn’t have to look flawless. Just enough to work as a template. Nevertheless I love to create these naturalistic looking scenes that don’t exist in real life. This is the creative part and, for me, the most important one. The next phase is to paint this motif with oil on a canvas. Like Banksy with his street art, he first creates the idea then transfers it on a wall. In his case the wall itself gives the motive an extra dimension because of its location or how it looks.  For me, I want the big canvas and the old school technique to give my motifs this kind of extra dimension as well.

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You began this series in 2004 with “Strawberry Jam.”  Do you see this as an ongoing series, or does it have an end date?  If so, what’s next for you?

I have a lot of other ideas that I want to start painting so there will certainly be more than just the superhero motifs coming up. My own guess is that I will paint this character as long as I have something interesting to tell through him.

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