Evolving style with Martin Nicolausson
Drawing as much inspiration from the past as the future, Martin Nicolausson combines digital and analogue elements to create abstract artworks which are nostalgic and bold in equal measure.
It is easy to get lost in Martin’s portfolio; his carefully curated collection of visuals conjuring up a whole new dimension where everything is a little off kilter and far more interesting. Delving through this new world, it is near impossible to get bored as Martin strives to make each piece he produces completely individual, conjuring surreal and surprising results.
This focus on originality has won him commissions both in Sweden, where he is from, and around the world, his impressive list of clients including the likes of The New York Times, Selfridges, Topman and Wrap Magazine.
Can you tell us about how your unique illustrative style came about?
Stylistically my work has evolved quite a lot since I started out, and it still is. In fact I make a point out of not getting too comfortable doing just one thing. I think it’s super important to have this mindset if you want to keep working in this business for a while. The Internet is just one big
The Internet is just one big feedback loop; things get copied, imitated, repeated and eventually played out. I
feedback loop; things get copied, imitated, repeated and eventually played out. It’s important to have a unique style, but perhaps even more important that this style, and the ideas, are constantly moving forward.
One of the things we love most about your work is you varied, unorthodox use of colour. Can you tell us how you go about choosing colours for each project?
I don’t think there is any real logic to how I choose my colours. I usually go for something muted but I use a lot of them, which is a bit odd considering I did everything in greyscale a few years back…
I’m always looking for colour combinations when out and about. The idea is to build a reference library, but for some reason I almost never end up using any of them.
You often use abstraction within your work. Is it difficult to know when to stop abstracting or does this come quite naturally?
I like not to state things too clearly… It’s just the kind of work I enjoy the most personally. But it also depends a lot on what the context is, sometimes the work has to communicate more directly. It’s a balancing act and at times will take conscious deliberation, I suppose.
What’s your process? And is there a tool you could not live without?
I could not live without the computer, it’s my tool of choice. I hardly even use pencils anymore. I’ll usually do sketches and everything on it. Apart from that my process is very open, I’ll just draw lots of stuff and then piece what fits together, together.
Are there any illustrators work or trends in illustration you have particularly been inspired by recently?
I tend to shy away from trends, I know my work doesn’t live entirely outside of them but I think there’s a sweet-spot somewhere in-between being inspired by and being totally irreverent to trends. I’ll see work that I love all the time but then I’ll try to do something different, hopefully.
If you could visit the studio of any artist or illustrator who would it be and why?
Picasso, because who wouldn’t?
Have you read any interesting books lately?
I just leafed through – there’s no other way of reading it – Age of Earthquakes, a new book by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar, and quite enjoyed it. It’s like the 2015 version of The Medium is the Massage.. I’m very much into the futuristic stuff at the moment.
What has been your favourite job from your career?
It’s really hard to name just one, but I love working on something where there’s a meaningful conversation with the art director and the work ends up being something I would not have conceived entirely on my own. With that being said I also love working on commissions where there’s total freedom given by the client.
What’s your dream job?
Whatever my next commission is.
What advice would you give to an illustrator who was just starting out?
Try to find your own voice, but realise it won’t happen overnight.
It’s ok to be inspired by trends and what others are doing when starting out, but perhaps only publish the work that you yourself feel has a certain amount of originality.
Finally, what’s next for you? Any creative projects you would like to mention?
I’m currently on parental leave with my 1 and a half year old so work has taken the backseat a bit. I will be taking part in a few upcoming group shows though. One I’m in that’s coming up soon is CommuteNiceLondon at KK Outlet, which opened on the 2nd of July.