3 Degrees of Inspiration: Marika Maijala, Eva Lindstrom & Joanna Hellgren

Editor’s Note: This is part 65 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the sixty-fourth part in the series, featuring Daniel Roozendaal, MVM & Bjørn Rune Lie.

Bjørn Rune Lie is inspired by …

Marika Maijala

I discovered her on Instagram a couple of years ago, and immediately fell in love with her loose and playful pictures. Personally I often feel a bit trapped by my own, rather laborious process and curse my tendency to overwork things. So I really admire artists who are confident enough to be loose and expressive. Her work looks like so much fun to do, but there is so much skill involved. She’s an amazing colorist and draughtsman who keeps experimenting and trying new things. Really inspiring.

The lightness of touch reminds me a bit of mid-century illustrators like Olle Eksell for example. Just beautifully refined and expressive drawings. They have a lovely warmth to them without being “cutesy,” and the colors are amazing!

A lot of people dabble in watercolors at the moment, but this book looks fresh to me. Again, the combination of graphic compositions and really warm and sensitive characters just really floats my boat. I’m in awe!

Marika Maijala is inspired by …

Eva Lindström

She inspires me with both her illustrations and storytelling abilities. She can create a world—a vast sea or a colorful forest—on a spread with just a few brush strokes and elements. I also enjoy the minimalism of her color palette, as well as the free, unforced nature of her drawing and painting.

I love the way there are very tiny things in her drawings, or huge, like in her recent illustration for Den stora vännen, a story by Ylva Karlsson (2017). I love the little hands and feet and the noses of her characters. She can paint sadness, or loneliness, or love, so well.

In her stories the things happen, without too much explanation. You never guess where the storyline will take you. She can create a story as freely as she paints. The world in her stories looks like our world but there is always a little surreal tension hiding underneath. Absurd things may happen quite naturally, which I find liberating. My favorite picture book by her is Oj, en polis! (2016), a story about two brothers and a pilot. There isn’t much text, but it is all in the right place. I can’t even explain why I love that book so much—it touches something beyond the rational.

Marika is also inspired by …

Joanna Hellgren

I really love the work of Swedish illustrator, graphic designer, and author Joanna Hellgren. She has a great talent of telling a story on many levels, going effortlessly back and forth in time and using the space in between the images, and words.

Frances is a graphic novel, a story in three volumes about Frances and people around her, during a long span of time. In the first volume Frances moves to live with her aunt Ada, after her father has died. I remember finding this book at the comic festival in Helsinki, and immediately I was drawn to it. Joanna’s black and white pencil drawings are so full of emotion, and grace, I could study each frame for a long time.

In Småkrypsboll, a story by Tove Pierrou, Joanna has filled her drawings with color. It’s such a wonderful mix of earthtones and clear colors. I envy the unforced nature of her paintings as well as her characters, who move, and breath.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Joanna!

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