Niklas Lundberg perviously made our brains explode with his art, now let him soothe your neurons with his words. His interview follows.
How long have you been working in illustration and graphic design?
I started with digital art 8 years ago, 4 years of experience working professionally and close to 2 years of freelancing.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in that time?
The most important thing that I have learned is to question my own work in order to push myself. Working together with talented people in various agencies gives you a better understanding on how your own work should be refined. A lot of my personal work has evolved thanks to everything I have learned through client projects. I have also learned that a freelance career is not as easy as I thought it would be. Sometimes it stresses you out completely in terms of getting paid, finding time to do other things or the opposite, finding work. But it’s a real adventure and I love it. As a freelancer you have more time to pursue you’re own goals.
Of all your works which is your favorite? Can you tell us about it, about the ideas behind it and what it means to you?
I was very happy with the outcome of “A Final Release”. I experimented with some new techniques including cutting and folding black cardboard. I love to work with my hands and finalize it on the computer. The idea itself came to fit the theme of Depthcore’s chapter “Mythic” which I based around a series of concept including genies and ancient gods.
How does your work represent your own personality and desires?
All pieces have different meaning to me. Usually when I do something I have an idea of what I want to achieve but it can take months after I have finished a piece that I realize the real meaning behind it. It’s a very deep trip into my sub-conscience. That’s what I really love about abstract art, sometimes you can just experiment till you stumble upon a good idea, it doesn’t have to be completely planned from beginning to end.
As every other designer I keep everything on my computer and desk organized, I can’t stand clutter. I work much better this way and I can focus solely on the artwork I’m creating. I think that my experiences as a graphic designer is helping me to control my illustrations. Even if I am doing abstract art, I try to obey some principles of design in order to execute a composition which holds some kind of structure using the grid and the golden ratio.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere I can think of including architecture, music, photography & fashion. I am not limiting myself to digital art which is usually the last place I find my inspiration. It all varies from situation to situation.
Can you walk us through your process from beginning to end?
I try to find subjects that interests me and that I know I can work with. When I have an idea ready I usually make quick sketches, experimenting with composition and colors. When I know what I want to achieve I find the right technique to execute the piece, I gather stock-images if necessary. From there I just put on some music and work. I have no real secrets it just comes naturally. Music plays a big part in my creative process. One thing that I have discovered lately is that If I try to listen to the same album over and over for the project I am working on, I tend to keep the same vibe and not drift away from what I intentionally wanted to pursue.
What programs/tools do you use when working?
I use Photoshop and Illustrator, and not so frequently InDesign, Zbrush and C4D.
How do you think growing up in Sweden has effected your art (if at all)?
I have always been a dreamer. I spend my days in front of the computer screen. Which means I have access to the world, I’m connected. I have never reflected on how growing up in Sweden has influenced my work. To be honest I am more inspired of what’s going on inside my monitor. That’s why I love traveling, to go visit all the places where I know I can get inspired.
What would you like your viewers to take away from your art?
I’m just happy if someone appreciates my art. When it comes to my personal pieces I never try to impress anyone by doing something I think they will like, i.e doing what is trendy right now. I have always created art for myself and will continue to do so. It’s what’s drives me.
Can you tell us about some other artists you like/follow?
I follow a lot of artists, for example fellow Depthcore members that I interact with daily. They are a bunch of extremely talented people who I deeply admire and look up to. I can interact with them daily to get feedback on whatever project I am working on right now or just talk about design things in general.
Whom do you count among your influences?
Definitely the guys from Depthcore, I have made a lot of good friends over the years via the collective and they continue to inspire and push me forward.
How has their work effected/manifested in your own?
At Depthcore each artist always try to push the boundaries and we give great feedback to each other. The thing that manifested mostly in my work is the ability to refine my it, I have definitely become a better self critique in positive ways.
How have you seen the field of illustration and graphic design change since you began?
Well, for me it has always been about the passion. If there was no love and passion for the things we do we would get tired of it very quickly. You can easily see the artists who wants to evolve and keep up with the massive competition that’s out there, it shows very early in their work if they have the passion for it or not. What has changed mostly for me is that everyone is now a designer it’s hard to start a freelance career because of the competitive market. Technology is at a rapid pace and it’s always hard to keep up with everything around it, for example new software where you have to keep yourself up to date all the time.
Mainly it is just tough trying to be one step a head. I think it helped me that I started out a bit earlier. It was more about having fun and not so much about the competition, when it took pace I was lucky to have some key contacts already. Thanks for that!
Did you go to school for art?
No I am completely self-taught. I never sought out to apply for an art or design school. I always have the drive to do things my own way. Sometimes I miss the ability to show a degree on paper but I always come back to the conclusion that I don’t need one. I am freelancing right now and it worked without a degree. Perhaps it would be the lack of fellow creative people and a great set of contacts but it’s the same there, I managed that part as well. School is a good way to learn and get yourself out there, but it is not the most important part. When I started I was so motivated and gave 110% to achieve my goal, and it is all thanks to my passion for art and design. I learned by doing.
Where do you see it heading in the future?
I love that more and more people are getting into the design scene. I think everyone in general is getting a bit more interested in terms of how things look. Because of all the design blogs and communities that’s constantly growing, we designers get a good spotlight to showcase our work, and everyone else gets surrounded by it. I am not sure what will happen in the future, but I look forward to be a part of it.
How do you see your own work changing in the future?
I always try to push myself into new mediums. I could possibly see a future in motion, preferably style frames and art directing. I also want to get better at the traditional things like drawing and painting. There are so many areas to explore and combine together and it makes me excited to experiment with various mediums.
What’s next for you in terms of projects, shows, series?
I have a couple of interesting projects planned right now but unfortunately I cannot share any information about it right now. Other than that I am just focusing on my art, experimenting and learning new things.
Niklas Lundberg, Freelance Graphic Designer & Illustrator