"NO TINY HANDS"
INTERVIEW WITH ILLUSTRATOR ALVA SKOG
Meet ALVA SKOG; Swedish illustrator and graphic designer, who is currently in her final year at Central Saint Martins in London. Already with a V&A Illustration Award 2018 under her belt, Alva is paving the way in the industry with her artwork characterised by bold colours, big hands, and a lots of fabulous female representation
I came across Alva's pieces and was instantly struck by the de-sexualisation of her work. Alva wants to highlight and challenge social issues in society and contribute to the much-needed diversity in media and advertising and she has my vote! I managed to grab a moment with her amidst her busy final term at Central Sain Martins, whilst preparing for her final year graduate show, to ask her a few questions about her inspiration & future projects.
WHATS YOUR BACKGROUND?
"I’m from Stockholm, Sweden. My parents have always been very supporting of my work. My mom always said whatever you do I will love you. Become a hairdresser or whatever as long as it is something you want to do. I have always been very inspired by my dad’s choice of profession (he directs tv-series and ads). My mom has always inspired me when it comes to feminism and political view points. She has also helped me inform many of my projects."
What is the motivation to create your pieces? / What message are you trying to get across?
"I started doing this kind of illustration in a project where I wanted to communicate advice to my younger sister (fourteen at the time). I wanted to communicate what it was like growing up as a woman with three posters. When I did the illustrations I was very conscious of how I would depict the women in my illustrations. Because this project was meant for my sister I was aware not to make them sexualised and objectiﬁed in any way. And also free from narrow body ideals that we see so much in media and advertising. So that is how the ‘No tiny hands’ thing started. And that is how I try to think every time I make my illustrations now."
HOW DO YOU WORK?
"I usually start with writing down words or themes on Notes on my phone, when I am on the tube for example. After that, I research references and inspiration. Then I draw rough sketches with a 6B pencil on paper, getting the composition down. After that, I use ink to draw the ﬁnal line work. I erase excessive pencil marks and scan it. I continue the work in Photoshop and play around with a limited color palette. With the color palette, I try to create the mood I want in my illustration."
WHO ARE YOUR KICK-ASS CREATIVE CRUSHES?
"My mother. My sister. And all women and non-binary people that stretch the border and dare do new things in new ways."
WHAT has been your favourite project to date?
"When I did the three posters that was titled ‘advice for my younger sister’ it was my entry for a design competition. Before I sent it in to the competition I asked someone, who’s judgement I valued at the time, for some feedback. He wanted me to basically change my whole project and that made me kind of put down. BUT I decided not to follow his feedback and I sent it in to the competition and I won. For me that was a great achievement because I learnt to trust my gut feeling and I have since and it has been going very well."
YOU'vE GOT A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS NOW.... DO YOU THINK INSTAGRAM MAKES ART MORE ACCESSIBLE?
"I enjoy Instagram a lot. I think it is very individual if it enhances creativity or not. Because I like to see other people’s work and I am a competitive person it makes me work harder. There will always be people that are better at what you do but you just have to accept it and try to get inspired to work hard instead of being put down. So that is what I am doing. I necessarily don’t think that art is better off in the ‘age of Instagram’ I just think it is different. If you have an instagram where you promote your art you have to be active and do it a lot. Because I am so new in the industry, I am just about to graduate, I con’t know if my business would be as successful without this tool. I started using it and I enjoy it a lot!"
WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK ART PLACES IN SOCIETY?
"To be a feminist is to be aware of the patriarchal structures of our society and of how these structures are being repeated and reestablished in everyday action and attitudes.
As a human being, a feminist and a illustrator it is my responsibility to be aware and, at least try, not to repeat these structures in my professional work."
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS?
"I have two artists that will always inspire my work. The ﬁrst artist is Marlene Dumas. I absolutely love her ink portraits and her fast way of working. The second artist is Helene Schjerfbeck. I have a poster with one of her paintings above my bed. I am also very inspired by graphic novels. Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan is a favourite right now and the other day I bought a graphic novel about Billie Holiday by Carlos Sampayo, which I absolutely love! Still, where I ﬁnd most of my inspiration is from all the women in my life, their strength and wisdom always inspire me."
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING EXCITING AT THE MOMENT? WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
"I’m working on a collaboration with a company called unique board that is based in New York. We are making 3D sculptures based on my illustrations. It is super exciting. The project will be launched on the 13th of June. Right now I’m just curious about all the different areas of illustration! I want to try everything!"
CHECK HER OUT ONLINE!
Alva's Instagram: alva.skog
Alva's website: www.alvaskog.com