Oslo-based Sunniva Sunde Krogseth (b. 1987) illustrates this year’s edition of the Welsh music festival Green Man Festival, a festival with a rich visual expression designed by Bread Collective in collaboration with a new illustrator every year.
Green Man is primarily about music, but it also includes literature, comedy, science and arts events. It has been held in the green scenery of Brecon Beacons since 2003. Unlike many other festivals, it has retained much of the original hippie spirit, and is without advertising, sponsorship or VIP sites. It all happens in August with headliners such as The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, John Grant and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The overall graphic design is done by Bread Collective, while the animation film is animated by Plastic Horse. Previous years, Green Man has worked with illustrators like Aart-Jan Venema, Hedof and Sarah Mazzetti. Now it's Norwegian Sunniva Sunde Krogseth. This is an interview with her by Maev Lenaghan about her work with Green Man Festival 2018.
So you have been working on the illustration concept for Green Man Festival 2018. How long have you been working on it?
I started the work in the last month of 2017. Since then I have been working closely with the design agency Bread Collective who do all the design for the festival. It is a collaboration that has been both fun and evolving. To be an illustrator can sometimes be a bit lonely and you are often alone with most of the decisions, so I think it has been super cool to be in a project with other people, focusing on different parts of the visual profile.
I know that you have made album covers, gig posters and other music related visuals before. Did you approach this differently? If yes, how?
I really love working with cultural clients and projects, and especially music, so this is somewhat a dream job. But it's a different job making one poster with letters and shapes to making a whole visual universe. It's been very interesting creating and drawing the scenery, the characters and the atmosphere. I really love the earlier Green Man illustrations done by illustrators like AartJan Venema and Hedof and it's fun to continue in their spirit, but make my own version of this mystical, atmospheric, playful Welsh universe. A poster usually has a smaller and a lot quicker role to play, it's fun to make something that will be out there for a much longer period. And it's so fun to see my drawings and creatures go from my messy drawing desk to the internet, to underground posters in London and finally to be all over the festival. I can't wait to see it all over the green hills in August!
Your illustrations for Green Man festival 2018 are full of humour and storytelling. Can you talk about the world you have created? I can imagine the characters are a bit naughty and up to mischief when our backs are turned. How were they born? And do they make you laugh?
It's fun to create them and if they don't necessarily make me laugh, I do get fond of them. I think it's fun to take with me some creatures I've been drawing before, like the living trees. These are inspired by J R R Tolkien’s Ents and also the Norwegian artist Kittelsen’s work, and for me they symbolise the living nature that is all around us. I've been inspired by mythical creatures and creatures from children’s books. I like to create playful stuff for adults, and creating an illustrated universe for a music festival is a wonderful way to do this. I also have to say that it was so fun to see my creatures come to life through Plastic Horse's animation. That's magic!
You often work with ink and brush which you then work on digitally. Did you find a new way to work on this project?
I have worked in my most usual way, starting off with A LOT of ink and brush drawings, and then finishing them on the computer. This is my preferred way of working as it gives me all the good stuff of working by hand on paper; mistakes, surprises and the crookedness that I love, but also all the good stuff about using the computer. Such a good combo!
As an illustrator what is the most important thing you should communicate about the Festival? Were you required to create a specifically Welsh universe? What sort of research did you do?
I want to communicate the playfulness, the green scenery, all the cool stuff you can experience in the festival – from clubbing at night to doing yoga in the day. All in this amazing Brecon Beacons which is a mountain range in South Wales. It's this small world where you can experience anything in just a couple of days. Relax and go wild! I did some research on Wales, but most of all this is a mix of all my references, from Nordic, to Welsh, to kids books.
The Maypole is Welsh inspired though.
Where will the festival goers get to experience your creatures?
I am actually not completely sure how they will be used at the festival. That makes it quite exciting for me as well. To see how they live their own lives after they leave my drawing table. But for now they're on Green Mans web page, on different social media like Facebook and Instagram. The creatures will also be spread all over tickets, programs, beer glasses and wristbands.
What music did you listen to while working on this commission?
It's been an eclectic mix of classical music, jazz, rap and r'n'b. It all depends on which mode I need to be in. Focusing, thinking or just drawing a lot!
Are there any bands from the line up that you would like to work with?
I'd love to work with Dirty Projectors or a local band I haven't discovered yet!
Sunniva Sunde Krogseth (b. 1987) is an illustrator with a BA from the Academy of Arts, Oslo (KHiO) and an MFA from Konstfack, Stockholm. She lives in Oslo, Norway and works with illustration, storytelling and text.
Maev Lenaghan (b. 1979) is an artist from Ireland living in Sweden. A printmaker from the outset, she is interested in narrative and storytelling across Fine Art, Illustration, Literature and Design. She has an MFA from Konstfack, Stockholm. Maev has contributed to idoart.dk since 2018.