Hello pattern designers! today I am happy to bring you a new interview with a designer and illustrator whom I admire and whose work is always inspiring, both for its originality and for its delicious palettes of colours. If you only see a small part of an illustration of her, you will know at the moment that it belongs to her. I’m talking about Åsa Gilland, a Swedish designer who has been living in Jakarta, Indonesia, for years (a country whose atmosphere, customs, costumes and other cultural themes have provided her with a rich and exotic material to inspire and create her designs. Add all this to an aesthetics with Scandinavian touches -which comes from her country of origin- and you get a body of work with a wonderful unique style.
“Hello Åsa, I am very happy to have you here today in my blog IN PATTERN WE TRUST, sharing your ideas, experience and knowledge. Shall we start? Tell us a little bit about how you started your journey in illustration, pattern and surface design. Was it something you’ve always planned for or it naturally happened in your career?
I studied art and interior design in Sweden and Italy and never had a thought that I would end up in surface design. After I arrived in Indonesia I worked as a graphic and packaging designer and developed a larger interest for surface design and patterns. It helped me think of shape and form in a new way and I love the versatility and wide scope of being able to imagine illustrations and patterns on different materials and surfaces.
Your style is very beautiful and, as I said before, I admire you very much because you are an artist who has dared to express herself in a different way: you only have to look at the stylization of your characters to realize that you draw like nobody else. How was the process of creating your own style? Who have been your artistic references or what artists do you think have influenced you in the creation of your style?
I am a history buff and I love studying various forms of folk art. I was always fascinated with the beauty of the Javanese shadow puppet artform and their odd proportion. I like the idea of seeing the character as a shape and distorting it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing even if anatomically improbable.I have also always admired the limitless creativity of mid-century Swedish designer and illustrator Stig Lindberg.
What advice would you give to a designer or illustrator who is looking to create his/her own style?
First of all, don’t stress out about it. The only way to find your own style is to keep drawing, painting and creating until it feels like a natural extension of your creativity. You can’t force a style to develop, I think it has to happen naturally and feel like a fit. If there is a theme or a certain color palette that you constantly go back to, there is usually a good reason for this. My advice is to dive in and swim in that direction (having said that, I greatly admire artists who have a wider range of styles, I think there is a positive aspect to not being too fixed on a certain style too.)
Where does your creative process begin? Do you have any “creative rituals” to work with? Tell us what a normal day at your studio is like.
I pack the kids off to school at 6 o’clock in the morning so I usually get a very early start. I am a huge coffee consumer and will have to have the pot on before I begin working as well as music or an audiobook. I can’t work in absolute silence. Before beginning a new project I collect inspiration and explore a specific topics. Typically I have a color palette as a point of departure before I even know what to draw. I usually create a lot more material than I need and try to be pretty ruthless when deciding what to keep or discard (not always successfully).
Tell us about the project that has given you the most satisfaction and why.
I love projects that connect creative people from different walks of life and different artistic viewpoints. I have been involved in a number of these and they might not be the projects that bring the best income but are fulfilling in so many other ways. Being and illustrator or designer can be a lonely profession, so it is important to get out of your comfort zone every now and then. My absolute favourite project was a range of mugs and espresso cups with a modern take on the Javanese shadow puppet characters.
How do you see yourself in 5 years? (this is where dreams, projects, or anything you want enter your future).
Oh, wow, to be honest I don’t usually make five-year plans, maybe I should but I have also learned that you need to be flexible and be prepared to change plans at the drop of a hat. Sometimes opportunities come along from unexpected directions. Right now my focus is on the preparation for a trade show in the US, which I will be attending for the first time in 2018. I am going through my portfolio with a critical eye and creating a lot of new work in anticipation for it, hoping that it might lead to new exciting things in the future. I would also love to create more children’s products.”
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview to a marvellous designer. She’s pure inspiration. If you liked it, I’d love to know in your comments below! See you in the next post, here, in IN PATTERN WE TRUST!