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a conversation with…

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Karin Åkesson is one of my favourite contemporary illustrators and artists…and I had to profile her on All Kinds of New as soon as possible to share her work with anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of seeing her before!

Karin moved from Gothenburg in Sweden over 10 years ago to study Illustration – firstly at Brighton University and then at the Royal College of Art where she gained an MA in Communication Art & Design.

Despite being several hundred miles from her Swedish homeland, Karin’s work constantly refers to her Scandinavian roots reflecting on her love of Swedish nature, the flora and fauna, and essence of Swedish outdoor life. Karin also brings a strong sense of personal nostalgia and warmth to her pieces, and her beautiful decorative style means that her work is truly a joy to receive!

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ke: Where do you live and work currently?

ka: I work from home, in Shoreditch, East London

ke: How would you describe your work?

ka: Decorative…feminine…with “Scandinavian colours”

ke: Can you tell us some of the clients you have worked with over the recent years?

ka: Arctic Paper, Boots, Guardian, Habitat, Hat-trick Design, Hodder Publishing, The Independent, Orange, Orion Books, Pentagram, Random House, Royal College of Art, Time-Out, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sam Creative and Start Creative..

ke: If you had to choose, which would be your favourite piece or commission that you have worked upon?

ka: It is really difficult to choose a favourite commission! The thing I enjoy most about my job is the variety – I never get bored. I once designed a tattoo for someone as a personal commission, and it was such a special feeling to think that that person must really really like what I do!

I recently completed a collection of illustrations for a cookery book and I really loved working on the project. The book is called FLAVOUR: A World of Beautiful Food, and is available this coming April. It was a lovely project! The commission enabled me to create patterns and drawings using inspiration from different countries and cultures all over the world..mixed with bits of photo collages.

ke: Who, or what, would you say has been your biggest inspirations for your illustration work?

ka: I find inspiration in many different places depending on the subject matter I am working on. But google is always a good place to start! In my personal work I love drawing flowers and birds and they creep into many of my pictures even when I try to keep them out!

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ke: I always find it fascinating to see peoples’ working space..wether it be their studios or bedrooms, kitchens, garages.. or a tiny space on their living room floor! Please could you describe your working space, to give us a sense of where and how you work?

ka: My base is a desk with my mac, scanner, printer and a few pencils. I like to keep it quite tidy.

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ke: How difficult has it been for you to establish yourself as an artist?

ka: It has been a lot of hard work reaching a point where jobs come in on a regular basis, and it is a never-ending process. But as long as I enjoy what I do I think it is the right thing for me.

ke: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in a similar field?

ka: If this is something you really want to do, be prepared to work really hard at getting the jobs and don’t be discouraged when the 100th person says that they like your work and they will keep you on file until something suitable comes up…
Doing the actual work is the easy bit!

ke: And finally…what are your aspirations for the future?!

ka: To be able to carry on working freely and keeping a balance between work and the rest of my life. Not too much or too little!

ke: Thanks Karin!!! x

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Go direct to Karin’s website to see more, or to contact Karin to discuss any personal commissions!

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