Mattias Adolfsson

November 9, 2009

The final frontier

Date of Birth: 1965

Mattias Adolfsson lives with his wife and two children in Sigtuna outside of Stockholm, Sweden.

Inspiration:

“…My favourite Illustrators as a child where: Oscar Andersson,  Tove Janson , Kjell Aukrust ,  and with Richard Scarry as an exception to the rule…As for stories, I early got hooked on European (gallic) comics, Tintin and Asterix, I used to read them and still do.” (2)

“I love buildings and especially of the older kind. Though, when I started studying Architecture, I soon found out that I wasn’t too good designing modern houses. So now I can design what building I want, not having to think about the dwellers.” (2)

“I can’t remember the first drawing I did but I can remember the first time I got real feedback for my drawings. It was in 4th grade I did a cityscape (not much has changed since) my teacher thought it was very clever, and since then nothing much has changed in my style apart from a enhancement of line quality.” (4)

Education:

Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at HDK, school of arts and crafts Gothenburg

Works of Note:

futurum

Futurum

Migration

Migration

Moby Dick and friends

Moby Dick and Friends

DPI magazine, Taiwan

A5 magazine, Israel

Xfuns magazine, Taiwan

Illustrator Miscellany:

“I’m currently working on a book for a Swedish publisher, and I might do another book with them when that is finished. Ultimately, I hope to get a grant so I can finish some of my own projects I’ve been working on.” (4)

“Jennifer:  Your recent scholarship sojourn in Greece produced a wealth of work which we all saw evolve over the months on your blog site. Tell us about winning the scholarship and where you see the outworkings of that experience taking you?

Mattias: Well winning was not that hard, it goes to professional Swedish Illustrators ( and I guess not too many can leave home for one month). I’d love to do more traveling and drawing but, in order to do that, I’d have to finance it in some way, maybe via some magazine.” (2)

“…Have been a professional 3d artist since 1995 when he left school making first animations for music videos and film then involved in making computer games…” (3)

Examination of Materials:

“My main tools are fountain pens and watercolors. The fountain pen I use now is a Namiki Falcon with a fine nib. I also have a Mont Blanc Meisterstück 149 but tend to use this less and less, the nib is rather wide (I’ve dropped it too many times).” (7)

“I use American Eel from Noodler’s Ink, this ink is permanent yet works in fountain pens without clogging. The only drawback with this ink is that it takes some time to dry, when I first started using it I smudged a lot. Now I tend to wait a day until coloring my drawings.” (7)

“I’ve been using Moleskine sketchbooks, I love the paper but it’s hard to scan. I’m trying to use the sketchbooks in my work but I haven’t yet worked out a perfect way of reproducing the materials in the sketchbooks.” (7)

 

Style Analysis

Star wars, the Baroque version

Modern day illustration is one of the broadest creative careers where there is a countless number of visual styles. It is an industry where an artist’s personal esthetic becomes their signature and marketing opportunity. One notable illustrator stands out, known for a drawing hand and personal style that sets him apart from others. The combination of Mattias Adolfsson’s background in illustration, his personal technique and his work experience make him a relevant and important modern day illustrator.

Adolfsson was born in 1965. [i] “…With his wife and two children [he currently lives] in Sigtuna, outside of Stockholm Sweden.” [ii] As a child his parents would give him many books to read. He lists off some of his favorite Illustrators: “…Oscar Andersson,  Tove Janson , Kjell Aukrust ,  and… Richard Scarry… As for stories, I early got hooked on European (gallic) comics, Tintin and Asterix, I used to read them and still do.” [iii] He not only read the many books his parents provided him, but also discovered his inspiration as an artist:

I can’t remember the first drawing I did but I can remember the first time I got real feedback for my drawings. It was in 4th grade I did a cityscape (not much has changed since) my teacher thought it was very clever, and since then nothing much has changed in my style apart from a enhancement of line quality. [iv]

An overwhelming amount of Adolfsson’s portfolio features ink drawings of fantasized cities and ornamented buildings. When asked about his subject matter, he stated that he

always enjoyed drawing older buildings. At first he would take the people who occupied the spaces into consideration, but over time his creation of buildings has become all about the design and not about the habitants. 3 After high school he continued his education and currently has a Masters of fine arts in graphic design from HDK School of Design and Crafts 2 and since then has “…been actively involved in the creative world [from] 1994…” 4 The experience gained from being in the field translates into the quality of work produced through Adolfsson’s technique.

Looking at the pieces Adolfsson produces, the materials are easily identifiable but it is the quality of his drawing skills that brings the work to life. He states, “My main tools are fountain pens and watercolors. The fountain pen I use now is a Namiki Falcon with a fine nib. I also have a Mont Blanc Meisterstück 149 but tend to use this less and less, the nib is rather wide (I’ve dropped it too many times).” 5 He also goes into detail about the ink stating, “I use American Eel from Noodler’s Ink, this ink is permanent yet works in fountain pens without clogging. The only drawback with this ink is that it takes some time to dry, when I first started using it I smudged a lot. Now I tend to wait a day until coloring my drawings.” 5 Most of his pen and ink work being produced can be found in the pages of his sketch book. When asked, he states that Moleskine is his choice brand because of the paper quality. 5 One work that demonstrates both the quality of his hand and extent of his imagination would be Star Wars, the Baroque Version (fig. 1). Not only does the work show his sense of humor, taking a pop culture image and putting a historical twist on it, but his meticulous detailed eye. The piece pulls together the visual aesthetics and the tone that can be found in all of his portfolio.

Technique aside, Adolfsson also has the experience in the industry that separates himself from other current competitors. Three international magazines have featured his work, DPI and Xfuns magazines published in Taiwan and A5 Magazine published in Israel. 6 Three works stand out as being highlighted in all three publications, Futurum (fig. 2), Moby Dick and Friends (fig. 3), and Long Distance Runners (fig. 4). 7 When asked about his current work Adolfsson stated, “I’m currently working on a book for a Swedish publisher, and I might do another book with them when that is finished…” 4 Adolfsson also just returned from a scholarship sojourn in Greece where he produced months worth of sketches that he’s posted on his blog. When asked about how the experience meant to him he said, “…Well winning was not that hard, it goes to professional Swedish Illustrators ( and I guess not too many can leave home for one month). I’d love to do more traveling and drawing but, in order to do that, I’d have to finance it in some way, maybe via some magazine.” 1 Also, one random bit of information, Adolfsson started his creative carreer as a 3d artist after he left school. It was only when he started sketching again did he take illustration into consideration. 2

The illustration world is one with many artists and creatives, all of which having a different voice to market and sell. Mattias Adolfsson has successfully separated himself from the pack through his unusual inspiration and past, incredible drawing technique, and experience in the field. As long as he continues to create and fill sketchbooks with drawings, there will be people to admire.

– Casey Crisenbery, Spring 2009


Endnotes:

 

[1] Mattias Adolfsson, “Mattias Adolfsson’s JacketFlap Profile,” JacketFlap, http://www.jacketflap.com/profile.asp?member=MattiasA

[1] Mattias Adolfsson, “The Home of Mattias O Adolfsson,” Portfolio, http://www.mattiasadolfsson.se/

[1] J.R. Poulter, “Interview with Mattias Adolfsson, the Lewis Carroll of C21st illustrative art,” Blog at WordPress.com, http://jrpoulter.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/interview-with-mattias-adolfsson-the-lewis-carroll-of-c21st-illustrative-art/

[1] Mattias Adolfsson, “Featured Artist Interview – Mattias Adolfsson,” TAXI, http://www.designtaxi.com/article.php?article_id=100580

5 Bill Turner, “Mattias Adolfsson,” The Tools Artists Use, http://thetoolsartistsuse.com/2009/03/mattias-adolfsson/

6 Mattias Adolfsson, “In Print,” Behance Network, http://www.behance.net/Gallery/In-Print/17884

7 Mattias Adolfsson, “mattiasa’s Photostream,” Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattiasa/

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