AN INTERVIEW WITH EMMA AHLQVIST
1. some of your illustrations are based on novels. we're huge bookworms, so are wondering who some of your favourite authors are and why? how does literature serve as a creative prompt for you?
I have a strong interest in literature and I love working on design and illustration projects that is inspired by fiction. When I illustrate a book I like to focus on the atmosphere or theme rather than a specific scene. One of my favourite books that inspired an illustration project a couple of years ago is White Noise by Don DeLillo. I love the humour, the dialogue and how it reflects on postmodern life. I also read a lot of Swedish books and I don’t know if many of them are even translated into English. One of the most originally beautiful books that I know is Sweetness by Torgny Lindgren. It is a story about two brothers who no longer meet or speak. They are both very ill and dying and hate the other one with a vengeance. The language is extremely considered and beautiful at the same time as it describes things that are so repulsive that you almost want to put down the book. It would be a great challenge to illustrate.
2. we see you have a graphic novel coming out in 2016. can you tell us a bit about it?
The title of this book is still to be confirmed, but it is a story about a girl who has recently finished school and still lives at home with her dad and sister in a small town in the middle of the forest. She spends a lot of time writing on her blog and dreaming of being discovered by someone. She wants nothing more than moving away to a big city. It is about mundane, everyday life, and how we all think we need to grow up to become something special. I didn’t actually know what a blog was when I was the same age as the character but I guess it is still inspired by my own experiences growing up in a small village in the south of Sweden. I am self-publishing the book and I will start selling it at ELCAF in London on the 10th of June as well as on my website. Keep your eyes peeled.
3. you're also a photographer - what is your favourite camera? what sorts of objects/subjects catch your eye?
I love to document places and environments, focusing on the unexpected details. I think I often photograph things that are overlooked or considered ugly by most people. I am currently working on a photo book about Sweden where I am juxtaposing idyllic nature scenes with photographs of industrial areas. I have also recently started to get into food photography and I even started a food blog because I love cooking, eating and photographing food.
I mainly use old school 35mm film and currently my go to camera is an Olympus om20.
4. there is a spectacular illustration called "wild trump" on your website. what are your thoughts on donald?
That illustration was too easy to draw because he is a real life caricature! Donald is terrifying, and he’s just going wild in politics. He is not following the rules and unfortunately it is working for him. When he started his political campaign a lot of people were laughing at him and thinking of him as a joke. Now we’ve all started to get a bit scared, I think that he is so dangerous because he knows that he can do and say anything and the people that vote for him will not care, he will still have their votes.
5. let's speculate. you can create anything for anyone. what is your dream project and why?
That is a very difficult question. The first thing I though of was that I would just like to create my own graphic stories. As a designer I often work for or collaborate with other people. It is really fun to be part of a team and it pays the bills but in between that I want to work on my own projects where I’m the boss. Saying that, there are loads of jobs I dream of, such as working as a graphic designer for film. I love the work that Graphic Designer Annie Atkins did for The Grand Budapest Hotel and getting a project like that would be absolutely amazing.