In the work of swedish illustrator and editor Sara Andreasson (b. 1989) gender equality always plays an underlying and very explicit role. From her thoughts on how to construct human bodies to her work with the feminist publication BBY Magazine, all aspects of Sara’s artistic universe point towards a more equal world.
Sara Andreasson grew up in the small town of Kristinehamn in the middle of Sweden. A town from which, as she puts it: “I escaped from as soon as I possibly could“. As a kid Sara’s future pointed in many different directions but after three years studying engineering she decided to follow her heart and applied for a bachelor course in fine arts at HDK – School of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg. Sara has been living in Gothenburg for seven years now and is dividing her time between working as a freelance illustrator and co-editing the feminist publication BBY magazine, together with her partner-in-crime Josefine Hardstedt.
In her illustrations Sara uses a bold graphic language and an expressive palette of colors that always manages to catch our attention. Every pattern, shape and body part in Sara’s work seems carefully executed and arranged, and this makes her illustrations stand out as something close to iconic. It is clear to see from Sara’s body of work that she is an artist who, even though she also takes on commissions, always stands by her vision. We took a chat with Sara to get to know her and her work a bit better and to get some insights into her background, creative process and what she hopes the future will bring.
Hi Sara! What made you choose your current path?
To be honest, I’ve never been able to make up my mind. When I was a child, I dreamed of being a veterinarian, a scientist or an artist. When I was around 18 years old and started applying for university I added two things on my list; engineer and astronomer. That I ended up studying engineering for three years was more or less a question of chance, since that was what the system picked for me. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I had ranked my applications differently. Maybe I would have been working as an astronomer, living my life somewhere above the Arctic Circle by now.
That I eventually decided to do something completely different was because things started getting clearer in my mind as I got older. I realized that I needed to start working with something that I actually love. I will probably never make as much money as an illustrator/editor as I would if I had worked as an engineer, but who cares?
Can you tell us about your working process?
When I get an idea for an illustration, I start by searching for reference pictures. Then I cut and paste them into a composition, from which I draw quite freely. Pictures of men and women tend to be very stereotypical, and therefore I try to use photos of men when I’m drawing women and vice versa. I use layers and masks in Photoshop, which allows me to move around pieces and change the colours as much as I like. Frankly, this part of the process is what I enjoy the most, just working with composition and colour. In the end, I usually have a whole bunch of different versions of the same illustration. Choosing which one to publish is always tricky.
Do you have a project that you are especially proud of?
I’m always most fond of my latest work. For now, that would be my bachelor project White Noise – Critical (Fashion) Illustration, which is a project about ideals of beauty. Last year, I was invited to participate in a fashion illustration exhibition in Estonia, even though I had never actually been in contact with this genre of illustration before. As I see it, fashion can tell us something about the ideals and standards that reach way beyond the glossy pages of a fashion magazine. Therefore, taking a critical stance in this context felt like an obvious choice. I’m very happy about the outcome, and about the reactions I have received so far.
What are your biggest source of inspiration at the moment?
I’m happy to see all the separatist movements that are emerging right now, and I feel very inspired by it. I believe that it’s important to create an independent, solid community where cis-men don’t have a say. That’s also exactly what we aim to do with BBY.
What are you working on right now? Can you show us any work-in-progress?
At the moment, I’m working on a couple of commercial projects that I’m afraid I have to keep quiet about for now. Other than that, me and Josefine Hardstedt, who is my partner-in-crime and also the co-editor at BBY, are actually currently working on the next issue of the magazine. This spring has been extremely hectic, and even though we had hoped to be finished by now, we will have to wait until the end of this summer before we can launch the second issue of the magazine.
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for the future?
Most importantly, I hope that we will reach equality for all, while I’m still alive. On a more personal level, I’m really bad at making plans. But I do hope that I can widen my profession a bit in the future. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working with illustration, it’s just that I really love working with the whole concept; from idea to result. Frankly, I think I would make a badass art director.
Do you have any piece of advice for fellow creatives?
Don’t listen to your teachers, kids.
Rikke Luna (f. 1988) og Matias Albæk-Falk (f. 1988) er stiftere af idoart.dk, og driver derudover formidlingsbureauet I DO ART Agency samt forlaget I DO ART Books. Rikke og Matias bor og arbejder i København.