Illustration to me means playing around with my Japanese ink pen toy.
When I create I follow visuals entering my mind.
A canvas is a yet unmapped exploration.
The jungle is also where I find creative energy. Maybe this is not too visible in my designs, but mentally I return recharged every time. Sometimes even with nice photos. You have to look for the exact moment, or luckily stumble upon it. Wild forests are never posing, as a temple will.
I just can’t remember not drawing. My granddad always kept a sketch of a car on his wall, which I made when I was 2 years old. Illustration seamlessly went from being a hobby to a job, through my education as an art director back home in Oslo, Norway.
My CV is heavily dominated by comics. Together with my childhood friend and work colleague Ivan Emberland, we have published more than 8000 pages of comics in 14 countries.
We also write all the scripts, so storytelling is an equal part of our job. This experience means that we rarely slip up when clients demand ideas, and not graphics only.
I always find creative inspiration in fields also outside graphic art. Ambiente music, moods in books or movies, clever observations my daughter comes up with, nature and wildlife. Of all the aspects I love about Vietnam, I´d say the wild nature tops my list.
When other expats hit the beach, I search out remote national parks. The jungle is also where I find creative energy. Maybe this is not too visible in my designs, but mentally I return recharged every time. Sometimes even with nice photos. You have to look for the exact moment, or luckily stumble upon it. Wild forests are never posing, as a temple will.
The last cartoonist who really moved me was Guy Delisle, with his travel diaries from around Asia. Yes, I see the link… Like many other great artists, Delisle sketches what is meaningful, funny or exciting to him.
As an advice for other creatives, this is always a good one. Try including something you care about in your work, like a theme or message. Stating the obvious here, I know! Without relation or joy, you might as well do accountancy. And who wouldn’t hate that?
The front pages for the iAMHCMC magazine and the ads for Vietnamese Food Lovers were both assigned to me by Innovo publishing house. Director Patrick Gaveau gave me permission to experiment with different styles.
That was the main attraction for me; a chance to mix influences from Vietnamese art and Asian pop culture with whatever I’m into at the moment. I feel that I’m allowed to play around, and I’m trusted as an illustrator.
Sometimes I find modern illustration trying too hard to be clever. Especially back in Norway, the trend for the last decade has been to draw like a child. The more naive and simplistic, the better. Add something sad or sinister as well, and you’ll receive awards.
For the iAMHCMC covers, each piece has a given topic reflecting the current issue. I try to create colourful and visually pleasing images that are actually nice to look at, while still showing off a creative idea. Ridiculously naive of me, maybe, but I am a commercially trained designer. There haven’t been too many obstacles to speak of, but censorship is an aspect here which I’m quite inexperienced with from back home. Let’s just say that their input feels slightly random at times, art-wise 🙂
Øyvind Sveen has lived with his family in
Vietnam since 2007, save for a couple of years
in Singapore. Please get in touch!
You’ll reach me on email@example.com