Karin Soderquist studied at Camberwell College of Art and first captured my attention at her 2011 graduate show. She is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden, has contributed to numerous exhibitions and publications, and is a member of Bat Country Collective with Emma Farrarons. The Magician’s Assistant was guided by a subconscious instinct to make an image with a little bit of magic. ‘As I started working on the image the woman turned into a cyclops. I added more details such as the pigeon, the gloves and the apple, but the final question remains: who’s the magician and who’s the assistant?‘
Your artwork is the result of a conversation with your subconscious… is this a common way for you to work and if not why were you inspired to work in this way?
When working on illustration commissions there are usually a lot of planning before sitting down and actually making the illustration. You have to send sketches and roughs to the client to show them your idea so that they can say if they like it or not. Therefore, when working on personal projects, I sometimes like to take a different approach where I don’t plan ahead as much. I usually start out with just a rough idea of what I want to do and start drawing. I find it a very relaxing way of working. That’s how I created my submission for That Which We Do Not Understand. And I felt like letting my subconscious guide me was very much in keeping with the theme of the brief.
How do you put your illustrations together?
Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a way of working that I really enjoy. I start off by drawing the image out in pencil. Then I cut out all the pieces of the image in coloured paper, scan them and reassemble them in Photoshop where I add the colours. I like the hand made feel that working with paper and scissors gives the illustrations and finishing the work digitally gives me a lot of freedom to play around with colours and composition.
You have done a lot of work for Akademikern, what kind of magazine is this?
It’s a magazine for the members of the union SSR. It’s for people who’s studied HR, economics and behavioral sciences etc. It’s always a lot fun getting commissioned by them, the art director and the editor are great to work with and the articles are always interesting to read. I love the challenges that doing editorial illustration can bring!
I adore your Lets Fika pastry images… can you tell us more about the deserts featured? what is your favourite?
They’re all traditional Swedish pastries, I did them for an exhibition at the swedish cafe Fika on Brick Lane about two years ago. It’s a chocolate ball, a princess cake, a semla and a cinnamon bun. I made them into pin-ups to add a bit of swedish sin. My favourite Swedish pastry is actually not included. It’s called a Dammsugare (which means vacuum cleaner) or Punchrulle. It’s flavoured with arrack and covered in bright green marzipan, yummy!
Why did you decide to study in the UK?
I wanted an adventure and I’d been daydreaming of living in a big city for a while, so studying was a good excuse to move there! It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. After about four years I got home sick and moved back to Sweden but now I feel home sick for London!
I first came across your work at your graduate show, what is the most important thing you have learnt about working in illustration since leaving uni?
Everything, haha! In hindsight I think there are a lot of really important things you don’t learn at art school (at least not on the course I did). I’m still figuring a lot of stuff out. But I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is how to work quickly and how to make an illustration I’m happy with in a couple of days or sometimes a couple of hours!
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