Elin Matilda

Andersson

My name is Elin Matilda Andersson.

I make colourful hand-drawn illustrations that are typically a mix of ink brush drawings, paper cut-outs and digital processes.

I love making sense of the world through image-making; it’s important that my artwork connects with people. I think of myself as someone who was put on this planet to draw people and creatures of all shapes, colours and sizes. I love drawing things big and small, fun, and hairy: things that make life interesting. I am inspired by observing people as they express their individuality. Diversity in representation is not only important—it’s way more fun!

My work is all about distilling information into creative ideas and images that are both fun and meaningful.

I grew up in a boring and sleepy Swedish town, but I now live in Australia, where I have to pinch myself every time I meet a wild kangaroo during my morning bushwalks. In the past I’ve enjoyed living in big cities like Sydney, London and Paris (désolé je ne parle pas Français!), but now I really enjoy the dreamy serenity of the village existence that I share with my partner, Koji, and our poodle, Party (who is also my studio assistant). The highlight of my day is my dog giving me a cuddle in the morning (and Friday afternoon wine time)!

Although I live in the middle of the bush, Sydney is only an hour away on the train, so I can easily keep in touch with the creative community and happenings in the city. I spend a lot of time with my smart and talented friends—many of whom are also artists—because this is truly how I recharge my brain and make space for new ideas (with or without the involvement of a bottle of wine). It is a priceless support network.

Australia definitely feels like home but I also love spending time in Europe and Japan, where my friends and family live. My studio is currently in my house, overlooking our large veggie garden, because it’s where I feel most happy, healthy and creative. My studio is (nearly) always in a complete mess! When I’ve cleaned it up to take a photo, it looks like this.

I studied science in highschool because for most of my childhood I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist. I was literally dinosaur-obsessed (and, yes very nerdy)! It then dawned on me that biology was, in fact, pretty boring, and what attracted me most to these prehistoric creatures was the dizzying thought that our world was once a very different place, one that now can only exist in our minds. I made hundreds upon hundreds of dinosaur drawings. The fact that we can never know exactly what they looked like meant that the possibilities in my child’s brain were endless.

In general I’m super fascinated by crossovers between art, design and science. Especially in these 'post-truth' days: I think illustration can play a great part in helping people understand why science is important and (sometimes) exciting.

I studied communication design at a small college in Sydney. I was worried about failing the first semester because I couldn’t afford a Macbook or to pay for Adobe software, because I had to use every penny the Swedish government would loan me to pay for the ridiculous course fees at my private college. It seemed I was in competition with others who were geared up with the latest tech and I was going to pathetically fall behind. Imagine my surprise when instead I ended up scoring highly and was eventually offered a scholarship, despite the fact that my work was created by hand and put together using Powerpoint (Powerpoint! I mean … come on)! This taught me not to put too much trust in shiny tools or technology—although they can be of great help, the key to making my best work always starts in my head and my hands.

I always knew my real passion was to pursue a career in illustration. My design background has definitely helped shape my current practice when it comes to developing a creative process, seeing the ‘big picture’, and learning to ask the right questions.

One of the most formative experiences of my career was taking lots and lots of life drawing classes—it was as if this unlocked something in my brain, and I started seeing shapes in everything.

What interests me most about great design and illustration is that it has the ability to stop people in their tracks and make them think or feel something new. Maybe it’s as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face for a moment before they continue on with their day—or perhaps even changing behaviours, which in turn will ultimately impact the way society works.

The key to finding my voice as an artist has been seeking out clients and collaborators whose values and vision coincide with mine: people that do or make things I get excited about. It may take a while to find one’s place or community, but when it happens it’s the best feeling ever. I’m a strong supporter of sustainable practices, social equality and inclusivity. It’s important to me that I work with companies who have a positive impact on the world around them.

It’s really important for me to dedicate time to personal work because thats when new ideas start to grow and I have the opportunity to try out new techniques and themes. Here’s a few of my favourites from the past few years!

Lately in my personal work I’ve been going wild with messy, wonky brush strokes and having fun creating textures.

I was inspired to make this little ‘dads’ animation because I was recording a podcast about fatherhood at the time. I posted it on my Instagram and was later contacted by an ad agency in New York, Badger & Winters, who asked if they could license it on behalf of their client. I said yes; the best part is that it ended up being used for an installation about gender equality in the workplace!

Recently I’ve been playing around with ceramics to see how I my illustrations can be translated to 3D.

I’ve always wanted to work with Marimekko, or another brand that marries everyday, functional objects with art. I think something like this would look cool as a big table cloth!

Here are some pages from my sketchbook. I love to experiment with combining different mediums and looser styles of freehand drawing because of the energy and contrast it creates. When creating my work, I always start by writing down all of the ideas that come to mind after seeing the brief. I take a moment to rummage through my library of vintage art, kids’ books, illustrated science books, and look through old sketchbooks. Sometimes the brain picks up something seemingly random that connects the dots!

Most of my work starts with making lots of hand drawings, using either a soft pencil or ink brush. Then I cut lots of shapes from paper and explore different colour palettes and compositions. When I have a few ideas going that I like, I scan everything into my computer and continue the process in Photoshop. Once I (and the client) are happy with the concept, I might draw, paint, cut-out and scan more pieces, or use my iPad to finalise the artwork.

What interests me most about working with paper and scissors is the fluidity it enables in the making process. Being able to take things apart, put them back together again, and quickly move things around and play with composition is such a great way to combat Scary Blank Canvas Syndrome. It also leaves room for happy accidents, which I love.

The best thing about working on commercial projects is that the work ultimately reaches (and hopefully connects with) more people. I much prefer working to a brief and in collaboration with a client, simply because the result is often better, bigger and more fun than doing something all on your own. And of course, these projects enable me to be an artist full-time, which truly is a dream come true.

The three things currently inspiring me the most are hands-on print techniques (such as risograph and screen printing), gouache paint and researching '70s activist art.

Here’s a recent series of illustrations I created for a Swedish app called Svalna (which effectively translates to ‘cool down’). Created by environmental scientists, the app not only helps its user track their personal carbon footprint, but offers tools to reduce their impact on the climate. I loved that the client wanted the illustrations to be positive and playful, and that I got to turn some of them into little .GIF animations!

Not long ago I was approached by the University of NSW to create artwork for an event that celebrates diversity in the music scene. It was a great opportunity for me to create some hand-drawn lettering.

One of my favourite projects recently was to illustrate the hero artwork for this year’s Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne. I came up with the concept ‘A hundred ways to fly!’ as a metaphor for all of the different genres and styles of creative writing that the festival celebrates. I took the opportunity to draw a bunch of weird and wonderful characters and some of them were made into giant paper cut-outs!

One of my all-time favourite projects was created for New Zealand micro-brewer Garage Project, for one of their seasonal IPAs. The brief was very open and they let me have fun with bright colours and weird faces, my favourite things! I was super stoked seeing the can on shelves; the beer drinkers seemed to love it too!

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for Google to decorate a meeting room wall in their Stockholm head office. The brief was themed ‘people watching’, which is a peculiar cultural activity most Swedes understand and enjoy: merely sitting down somewhere and leisurely enjoying looking at people walking past (cute or creepy?).

I love to see my name in print! Here’s some magazine editorials I’m really proud of.

One of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever done was to illustrate the packaging and brand story for Makijima Tea Co. We were able to finally work out the concept and style after some intense workshopping—it turns out having your partner as a client isn’t always an easy ride.

I was lucky enough to create work for a fundraising exhibition for the benefit of Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre (WAGEC) in Sydney. My artwork, on the theme of hope and sisterhood, was created using a combination of paper collage, ink drawing and risograph printing. As a lifelong feminist, it feels especially rewarding to contribute to such a great cause.

While I’m not doing client work, you can probably find me drawing hundreds of faces on any piece of leftover paper (these are the ones I drew whilst writing this).

If you want to find out even more about me, my partner and I were featured in the latest issue of SPACES (Vol 5), where I got to describe my creative workspace and process.

That’s me! If you want more, check out my full folio and Instagram. Got a brief? Contact me and the good folks at Jacky Winter.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.