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Emma Löfström's Magic World

The Swedish illustrator on her current exhibition of whimsical collage work and how her home country has influenced her style

Illustrator Emma Löfström’s current exhibition ‘Illustrations of the inner landscape accompanied by romantic meetings and acts of mystique’, hosted and curated by Konstnaring, utilizes her trademark handmade collages that convey a dream-like feeling. Löfström lets us into her world, as she draws inspiration from nature and rural living. The romanticism in her work is enhanced by the use of people or surreal creatures with human faces, it creates this sense of familiarity but still unknown realm.

This is further enhanced by the colour palette she uses, subtle hues of greys and blues but with a recurring brighter colour like red or yellow to highlight details in the image. Having worked on personal art projects and books as well as pieces for commercial clients, Löfström still manages to retain her own style and way of storytelling through her illustrations. Here Löfström speaks to us about why collage is the medium she’s most comfortable using and about the new pieces she’s created for the exhibition.

Dazed Digital: What’s the feel of your current show?
Emma Löfström:
In my work the landscape has an important role, as a starting point for the imagination and as a setting for stories. I create my own imaginary worlds and I enjoy the freedom of creating a world of my own, where everything doesn’t have to make sense, and I can let my imagination flow. I'm drawn to this kind of magic ‘surrealness’, where I can play with illusion and reality, closeness and distance, surface and depth. The settings are drawn from memory, dreams and made up fragments. Sometimes there's more of a story behind the images and sometimes they are completely abstract and unexplainable.

DD: Have you specially created new pieces for the exhibition? What’s been the inspiration for the illustrations?
Emma Löfström:
I've created some new work for the show, using several sources of inspiration. I've created a slide show of images which has been inspired by a track on Brian Eno's ‘Another Green World’ which I've listened to probably too many times by now, I like the mystery and rhythm of the music. Some of the images are influenced by ‘The Bloody Chamber’ written by Angela Carter, a collection of novels with Carter's own take on old classics such as Little red riding hood. I've recently revisited Twin Peaks by David Lynch and that in combination with a trip to an old saw mill in north Sweden has also made it's mark. 

DD: Does your home country of Sweden have any influence on your work?
Emma Löfström:
Yes, I think it's impossible not to be inspired by your surroundings. There are very direct references in the way I draw landscapes, birches and pine forests being a slight obsession of mine. There are also less obvious references in the atmosphere and moods of the images, where a kind of melancholia is an overlaying theme. 

I'm very fascinated by the northern part of Sweden and the contrast of it being cold, dark, vast and at the same time tranquil and absolutely beautiful. People often mention the resemblance of Scandinavian artist like Ingmar Bergman and Tove Jansson when they speak of my work. Although the two artists work in very different mediums, I think the scenery and landscape plays a central role in their work, and they create a similar mood.

DD: Has collage always been a technique that comes natural to you? Why do you feel the method conveys your intentions in the best way?
Emma Löfström:
I've worked in collage for quite some time, and I love the process. Although I can spend hours and hours drawing a character I'm pretty impatient and I like the fact that collage allows you to make quick changes, moving elements around, almost as in a film set. 

DD: What’s your process when creating a piece? Do you start with an idea or just put thing together to see what’s created?
Emma Löfström:
I usually begin with creating an environment I'd like to be in, this could be based on a mood I'm trying to create, or a music piece that inspires me. Then I create characters and props, create a setting, and making up the stories that might be taking place. I let the image grow alongside my ideas. Sometimes when working on commissions though the process is much more directed, you have to create an idea of the picture that the client is looking for, and then the process is building that image up piece by piece.

DD: What projects are you working on now?
Emma Löfström:
I'm working on a collaborative short film project with a Stockholm based production company. A project where we are experimenting with the use of illustration and animation blended with shot footage and stop motion. I'm also interested in music collaborations, I'd like to take a break from the very figurative drawings and develop my more abstract illustrations, as well as developing my work into moving image… So any great musicians out there interested in collaborations, do get in touch!

'Illustrations of the inner landscape accompanied by romantic meetings and acts of mystique', 24 Nov - 11 Dec, 2011