Mattias Adolfsson is a successful freelance illustrator from Sweden who has been commissioned by the New York Times Magazine, The Onion, Spotify, and published a book of his art entitled “The First in line, from the sketchbooks of Mattias Adolfsson.” His drawings feature infectious characters, fantastical worlds, sci-fi elements, and gentle, pleasing colors. We spotted Mattias and had to get in touch. Lucky for us, he agreed to do a short interview with the Nonsense Society. Read on to hear about this career, experience, and see some of his work.
NS: How did you get started as an artist? Is this something you’ve been doing since childhood? Please expand on how art has influenced you growing up and maturing.
MA: Well I have had a rather unfocused career starting studying to be an engineer, I was rather gifted in mathematics so it felt like a safe bet. I loved the math part but wasn’t to interested in the engineering part of the education. Taking a break from higher education a worked with some crude computer generated imagery before trying Architecture instead switching half way to a master in fine arts in graphic design. I fell in love with 3d modelling and animation during the time in college and spent the better part of ten years after graduating in the game industry. So it was deep in the dungeons that I suddenly felt fed up with creating on the computer that I broke free five years ago instead opting for a career in Illustration.
Your pieces are so fantastical. We get lost in them. Where do these inspirations and concepts come from? Are there other artists who inspire you?
Not sure where I get the inspiration sure there is probably other artist that inspires me but I tend to spend little time looking on other artists work (sorry) I get a lot of inspiration from listening to music and online lectures apart from stuff I saw while growing up.
Why do you draw such incredible pieces in sketchbooks so often? What draws you to the sketchbook and not to a larger canvas?
Well I’m thinking of switching from sketchbooks, but one reason is the ease of handling and working on larger fromat really takes longer time.
Are you content where you are as an artist? What would you love to do in the years to come? I could see your work on an animated TV show for example. I could also see you gathering a huge cult following and simply selling your art and products that people love. What do you think?
The problem is that I have no clue to this moment I’ve just been drawing and getting more and more commissions. I’m at a stage when I might have to much assignment and I might have to cut down on my free outlet. I hope to find a balance, but at the end it has to come down to pure economics.
Can you tell us about your experience being published in the New York Times Magazine? That’s a huge accomplishment, by the way! How did it happen? Did they give you guidelines? Did they find you or were you networking and reaching out in that direction?
The first time they contacted me I was invited to the Clermont Ferrand Sketchbook symposium so I had to pass the first assignment, so I thought I had blown it but they contacted me again a couple of weeks later. Each time they have given me an assignment they have presented me with an image I have already made, so they wanted something in that vein. Not sure how they found me, I seldom do but I keep coming up all over the web these days.
We’d also like to hear about your sketchbooks being published by Sanatorium. Can you tell us about that process? Specifically, what made you decide to publish a book? Was is a fun experience or a difficult experience? Has the book brought a lot to your career or a little?
I was contacted by Jens at sanatorium, he had been following my work for some time and wanted to do a book. It was a nice experience and for me very easy he more or less curated the book and I gave him free hands. We had very little success in Sweden getting more or less no press but as a whole it has been great and the book is out of print. I’m trying to get the second volume in print this spring.
Finally (we ask this of everyone), please give some advice to the many young artists who read our blog. What have you learned so far in your life that you can pass on to the artists who definitely look up to you?
It all comes down to putting in the hours, it’s a rather boring answer I guess and I guess there is some artists that are blessed from the beginning but I was not one of them.