Bjorn is not only one of our favourite illustrators but also one of our favourite people to work with – with an imagination that knows no bounds and the attitude of a saint, Bjorn is any publisher’s dream. Amidst a flurry of commissions for a variety of high profile international publications and brands he took a moment to talk to his old friends over at NBHQ about what makes this Bristolian Norseman tick. Here is what he had to say:
1. NBHQ: Tell us a bit about yourself.
B: I’m a Norwegian artist/illustrator who’s somehow ended up living in Bristol, England. It’s been so long I almost can’t remember why. I work too much, eat too much bread and not enough fruit. I can’t afford a car so I cycle everywhere on my hopelessly untrendy bike, transporting all sorts of things on the pannier rack, such as floor boards or bags of firewood. I really like Duke Ellington and that kinda stuff. I really don’t like chart music and consumer culture etc, but I’m not bitter and cynical, although the world is obviously going to the dogs. I’m pretty hopeless on Twitter.
2. NBHQ: What inspires and informs your work?
B: I always try to seek inspiration from as many sources as possible. It’s hard to nail down exactly what inspires me, but I seem drawn towards wonkyness and imperfection; Folk art, printed matter from before the digital age, old photographs of strange plants and weird contraptions. At the moment I’m really inspired by Victorian greenhouses, power stations, botanical illustrations, photos from the Russian revolution, eccentric explorers and adventurers… it all comes together somehow. And things from my childhood seem to reappear quite a lot. Having amazing people around like Ben Newman and Jon McNaught is really inspiring too.
3. NBHQ: Tell us a bit about your process…
B: Man, I’m still trying to work out what the hell I’m doing. I’m always experimenting with new ways of doing things, which leads to a lot of hair pulling. I don’t like repeating myself too much. There always has to be an element of surprise. I’m slowly developing a technique at the moment which really suits me though. It involves: scalpels, sponge rollers and ground up oil pastels. It looks razor sharp, has a degree of wonkyness, is hard to overwork, but has the element of surprise. Best of all, it’s just a really enjoyable process. Good for the soul, but not for the respiratory system, so I sometimes wear a dust mask.