Stockholm based artist Andreas Englund is mostly recognised for his photo realistic and humoristic oil paintings, telling the story about the everyday life of an anonymous superhero. The series ranges from the superhero’s first mission as a toddler to being an old man, who still struggles with everyday trivialities. For more information visit his website www.andreasenglund.com and check out the interview below.
“I always wanted to share my thoughts with others, either through conversation or visual media. To understand and analyze what makes people connect. To share insights and thoughts, experience and humor. At the same time the insights from working with communication gave me the tools from where I built my foundation as an artist. For me it has always been two careers living in symbiosis – being an Art Director and an artist – with the common theme of storytelling and communicating.”
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
175 cm tall with a mustache. Ha ha… I actually think my paintings tell a lot of who I am. Instead of reading my horoscope one could “read” my paintings and surely find out quite a lot about me.
Whom do you look up to?
I look up to all people who strive for a better world. Sure we all want that but some people really dedicate their lives to it and they are admirable.
Are there any personalities that have contributed to your successful career path?
When it comes to the way of thinking I have to thank the teachers at RMI Berghs School of Communication. They gave me the tools from where I built my communicative foundation as an artist. I went to that school when I was in the mid twenties and they taught me to start thinking like I did when I was a child – limitless without boundaries. I think in general most schools moulds people to think and express themselves alike so they can be compared and graded. It’s a very blunt model and often it limits your creativity. It did to me anyway.
How did your art career start?
When I was young I loved to do paintings and drawings but when I got older I lost my interest. Why? Because I felt I had nothing to tell. I knew how to paint but painting itself doesn’t interest me that much. It’s the story behind the motif that intrigues me. That’s why I chose to work within the advertising business at first – creating ideas and stories for all kinds of brands. Then back in 2002 I started to paint in oil and I fell in love with it. A couple of years later I made my first superhero painting and I felt I had something I wanted to share. Over the years I have developed this story but also developed new ideas and stories. Finally I felt that I had more to tell and share through my work as an artist than as a creative at the agency so I quit my job and went “all in” on my career as an artist.
What was your favourite project and why?
I think the painting “Heimlich” is my favorite art project so far. It’s my biggest painting (3,6 m x 2 m) and I had a pretty tight deadline so it was quite a challenge. When it was finished I felt so good that I pulled it off. Another memorable project was at my agency. The client was the Swedish Public Service (back in 2009). The viral campaign had 52 million views on their site (not a film on YouTube). On the site you could interact and make your own movie – becoming the hero for public service. We had a great success and got acknowledgements from all over the world. (Here’s a link if your’e interested to know more about the campaign www.mobileinc.co.uk.
Quotes and Wisdoms
How do you define creativity?
Create big out of small. Find possibilities within limitations. To find similarities between unexpected contexts. Combining known factors into something new. To dare question the common truths.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
“Can’t is the cancer of happen” – I read the quote by Charlie Sheen some years ago and I liked it. I always try to see possibilities instead of problems.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
This is something I’m really dedicated to so I cannot give you only one advice. I’m not that creative ;). Like Albert Einstein once put it “insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
To me being creative one must try and dare to try new ideas and believe in them. They might not lead you in a straight line but they surely lead you forward. And somewhere along the way you will make unexpected leaps that creates new ideas. Also surround yourself with the right people and energy that pushes you forward and doesn’t hold you back. Being in a negative environment with the wrong people is dead end to creativity. Don’t be afraid of telling your ideas to others and be sure to listen – you never know what or how new input can contribute to enhance your ideas.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
I did a commission for Sony Playstation last summer. I got an email from the agency – BBH New York and they asked me if I was interested to do a huge painting for Playstation. Since I’m a gamer myself I couldn’t refuse. It turned out to be a very complicated project with a lot of people involved and everybody had to have their say about things. So the final week I painted about 19 hours a day and 3 days were around the clock. I was exhausted but I made it in time and everybody was happy. (Here’s a link if your’e intersted to know more about the campaign: PS4 Gamer Master).
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for art?
My family comes first so I guess if I had to I would give it up for them. I kind of lost my passion of advertising, at least for now but I don’t think I will lose or give up my passion of art. I also hope there are new passions yet waiting to be discovered…
All images © Andreas Englund