Graphic Days is an annual graphic design exhibition/festival at Torino, Italy. This year’s theme focuses around the theme ‘Grow Younger’.
What was your own childhood like?
Stina Persson: “I’m a typical 70’s kid! Brought up in a socially conscious environment with lots of freedom and less rules.”
How did you became an illustrator?
Stina Persson: “I was drawing every day until high school when I started theatre instead, and all that other teenage stuff (worrying about my pimples, falling in love, listening the same song over and over again etc.). After high school my Swedish boyfriend who studied Japanese moved to Japan and I tagged along. I fell in love with the Japanese aesthetics and my boyfriend fell in love with a Japanese girl. Once back in Sweden a friend of mine was going to Italy to study and I kind of just followed. She studied fashion and I studied Fine Art. Then I moved to New York to study illustration.”
Why did you want to illustrate?
Stina Persson: “I have always been drawing. Me and my two friends Maja and Magda draw all the time. Year after year. Maja become an illustrator as well and Magda a fashion designer. But as a kid I thought everyone drew. That was all I knew. I grew up in a university town and the entire city revolved around that, but I felt the urge to see more of the world. Even if I always thought I would come back and work in academics sooner or later. It never happened and I just kept illustrating.”
Can you give us a little feel of your Stockholm (work)days?
Stina Persson: “I live there with my three sons, husband and cat. Our apartment is in the middle of the city, but still with green all around us. I see both deer and foxes and our cat lives among them. My studio is a five minute bike ride away, in a neighborhood full of thrifts stores and cafés.”
Stina Persson: “Every day I bike to work and get to my studio around eight, I check emails and then go across the street for a coffee. I try to get as much done in the beginning of the day as I have found that the best medicine against procrastination. I go to the gym during lunch and then work until five or six. Then I go home to be with my family. Every once in a while I stay in town when the family goes away. Then I work day and night, losing track of time, just listening to podcasts and drawing. This is both energizing and draining. This is how I always worked pre-kids, and being able completely immerse myself in my work every once in a while is amazing but wouldn’t want to do so more often. Life is more balanced now.”
Can you tell a little bit about how you work?
Stina Persson: “Mostly I do commissioned projects for clients, but lately I do more work just for me that I later sell. Either at solo shows or pop up shops in my studio. I sell prints in my web shop too. I love how the illustration business is merging and evolving!”
You have a recognizable style, how did you find it?
Stina Persson: “I do what comes natural to me. The way I solve illustration problems comes from within. I also tend to focus on stuff that I find tricky. Like faces, I thought they were the hardest thing, so I practiced until I could do it effortlessly, or at least make it feel effortless…”
Why do you find it important to contribute to a better world with your work?
Stina Persson: “I have a voice which I use as much as I can, when I vote, when I raise my kids, when I talk to friends or on Instagram. I worry as I see that opinions that were once very common now seem to trigger people. Every time I write something political for example about feminism or anti fascism I do receive a lot of negative email and lose a lot of followers. But I think we need to make our voices heard so that we don’t feel as alone in our worries.”
We are very happy you said yes to making a design for our Face This T-shirt!
Stina Persson: “I knew about Face This already, and one of my best friends is moving to Indonesia so it just felt right. I wish I could do more work helping people. And if I can help with drawings I just feel very lucky. To work with a drawing from a child in Indonesia was very different but a good challenge.”
What materials did you use?
Stina Persson: “I used watercolor and then added Nita’s drawing digitally so that nothing of her drawing would get lost. I hope we add to each other’s work.”
How was your whole experience in the Face This project?
Stina Persson: “Lovely. It happened at an extremely busy period, but that’s life, right?”
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