3DValley Featured 2D Artist for October 2008 – Stina Wiik. Stina is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer for over ten years. She lives and works in Sweden. She is an illustrator with a background in fine art, illustration, and graphic design. She has studied art and took an part-time apprenticeship of several years with artist, art teacher, and art historian Björn Dolk. Today she does all kind of illustrations for printed matter and digital use. Her passion and goal is children’s book illustrations. She used to sketch the first ideas on paper, but nowadays she more often use digital tools right from the beginning to finished work. Please read our interview with Stina below to get to know her and her work a bit better.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Stina: I’m a Swedish illustrator with a background in fine art, illustration and graphic design. I was born and grew up in a suburb southeast of Stockholm, Sweden and currently live with my husband in Stockholm. I’ve always scribbled! My interest in illustrations goes way back to my childhood days and I still have some of my first drawings saved – my favorite horse, a princess and a squirrel family in a tree house. The squirrel-drawing actually won the first price in a competition for children drawings. I was 8 years old at the time and completely overjoyed. I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer for over ten years now. I do all kind of illustrations for printed matter and digital use and my passion and goal is children’s book illustrations. My latest commissions are cover- and inlay illustrations for one of the biggest Swedish publishers Raben & Sjogren. I’ve done two books for them this year. I really love illustrating and I’m still as passionate about it as when I started!
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
Stina: In the 80’s I started my education in art. I took several courses and went to art school fulltime for a year. From 1993-97 I took a part-time apprenticeship with artist, art teacher and art historian Björn Dolk. I was taught different techniques, color and composition in classical painting. The period also included photography. I learned everything that is involved in running a photography studio as well as taking photos. Then I took several courses in digital art and I graduated in 2001 from University College in narrative techniques concerning digital media. In 2007 I graduated as a Bachelor of Education concerning illustration, graphic form, narrative techniques and web design. I’m also awarded a Bachelor of Social Science in Educational Sciences.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional materials do you use for your artwork?
Stina: I used to sketch the first ideas on paper, but nowadays I more often use digital tools right from the beginning to finished work. It’s quite easier and as a bonus you have the illustrations digitized and pretty much color corrected from scratch. I work with a Wacom in Photoshop, Painter and Illustrator and sometimes Indesign with printed matter. But when I’m traveling I always bring my sketchbook with me.
The Golden dragon
Christa: Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Stina: No, not really… Illustrating has always been a natural part. And when I grew up I got the privilege to earn my living, doing what I love the most. I’m very grateful for this.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Stina: I usually start off with research and then some kind of reference. You most likely need help with humans and animals in difficult poses/ actions, a building in a particular style, clothes or flowers and foliage, especially if they are connected to certain geographic areas and time periods. If there’s a painting to be made I build the basics, light and darkness, in grayscale. On top of the basics colors are added gently in layers, with fills and brushes with various transparencies, as a final coat. The underlying grayscale painting serves as a map over the light and dark areas. Today’s digital applications such as Photoshop and Painter provide dynamic tools that are extremely good at simulating classical techniques if you know how to do it. Many of my children’s pictures are made “al la prima”, direct painting. Here I don’t use a grayscale basic, I just choose the color I want and start to paint from the sketch.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and if so why?
Stina: Tough question, my favorite is always the latest 🙂
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work?
Stina: I’m quite childish and will probably never “grow up” and I think many of my pictures speak for themselves. I love fairytales and I often hear people say that my illustrations are expressive, lively and colorful. And according to some art historians my style has been described as “Naturalistic/ Romantic”. One of the foremost influences is the style and ideas of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. I love the romantic era with influences from mythology and the old sagas, “…art is essentially spiritual in character…”
Christa: Which areas of creating art do you enjoy the most?
Stina: Every creative step in the process has its own fascination!
Christa: What is your favorite place and time to create art?
Stina: I mainly work in the studio connected to our home. But I also like sketching on the subway, sitting on a park bench or at a pleasant café downtown.
Christa: Where do you see your art go next? Do you still have a dream assignment?
Stina: Oh yes, and the funny thing is that the dream assignment changes over time, I guess I’m always going to wish for it. Every time I finished a commissioned work I wonder what comes next…
Christa: Can you tell us a bit more about the way you choose the colors for your art?
Stina: Each illustration has its own language and manifesto. Commissioned work often comes with a manuscript which I doing my best to interpret. But personally, I have a deep affection for “vintage colors/style” which you can see in some of my paintings.
Christa: Is there a painting/ illustration out there that you wish you created?
Stina: Ah, there are so many paintings I wish I had done, to mention a few… Albrecht Dürer, “The Martyrdom of the Ten thousand“… where he, despite the horrible theme, painted himself with a colleague standing in the center objectively discussing the fearful surroundings. An odd but somewhat humorous touch. The wonderful illustrations by Ingrid Vang-Nyman for Pippi Longstocking, one of my childhood favorites. One of my all-time favorites is the timeless reporter Tintin and his companion Snowy, I love Hergés unique style. Botticelli’s Primavera.
Christa: Besides creating 2D art you also a very good photographer. (go to Stina’s photography website.) When did you get started with photography and does it complement your painting in any way?
Stina: Ah… photography has always been a more of a hobby 🙂 but the darkroom work was a perfect complement to my classical art studies. Especially when working with light and shadows, to understand that not all shadows are equal and why light direction matters in a painting.
Cover illustration – War of The Witches/Varghonans klan
Christa: You are currently working freelance. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of work?
Stina: The biggest advantage is that you are in control of your own time, a certain amount of freedom. Every assignment has a deadline, but if I want I can work at late nights or weekends and then do other things on workdays. The disadvantage is that you haven’t the regularly income that comes with employments.
Christa: How did your personal website/ portfolio help you to promote your art?
Stina: My personal online portfolio stinaw.se is crucial in any kind of work situation and more than once it has generated commissions. I’m also member of the “The Association of Swedish Illustrators” and their image bank for professionals “Illustratörcentrum”. As much as possible I try to participate in different events such as the yearly Swedish competition for professional illustrators and graphic designers “Kolla!” and also interesting online events. Yes, it really helps a lot to having a nice and regularly updated portfolio. Employers are often looking for a specific style and my experience is that they also take notice on how you present your work and when you had you latest commission.
Christa: What skills do you feel are important working as an illustrator, graphic designer?
Stina: A creative mind! Carefulness and when you working as a freelance, the ability to listen to your clients.
Cover illustration – Black Beauty
Christa: Are you currently working on something that you can share with us?
Stina: My husband and I have some interesting fairytale projects going on which are quite in the early stages at the moment… I’ve also done some card illustrations for Orion’s Bell, “OZ Collectible Card Game”, coming in fall 2008. In October 2008 the Swedish publishing company Raben & Sjögren releases a new Swedish version of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and translated for younger children. I’ve done the cover illustration and 14 b/w inlays. I’m also involved with a couple of paintings for a Swedish commercial project. I will publish them as soon as the company releases their product this fall 2008.
Christa: Besides 3DV, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?
OZ Collectible Card Game
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Stina: The coffeepot and my hubby are essentials :heart:
Christa: What do you do when you’re not working or creating something?
Stina: Spend quality time with my family, playing online games such as EverQuest and Vanguard and gardening. I also like to attend selected art exhibitions and then maybe having a nice dinner at some well-reputed restaurant… take a walk.
Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview Stina!