Artist Interview: Jonas Karlsson

Since, as a working artist, I'm not able to post 99% of what I'm currently working on, I thought it'd be fun to do a series of artist interviews with artists whom I know and admire. I'm always curious about other people's views on creativity, art, and inspiration. 


For my inaugural post, I decided to interview my friend Jonas Karlsson, a brilliant Swedish painter and illustrator.


Since I'm not much of a journalist, I formed a list of 11 questions, and here's what Jonas had to say:

1. What/who do you find to be your biggest source of inspiration?

I am fascinating of exciting stories so there is where it starts for me. Every painting I do must have an interesting background story. I want the painting to reach further than its own frame and if people get the story it tells its like they get a piece of the painting to bring home.

2. What's your favorite medium to work in?

Watercolour is my favourite medium. I just love how the colours' comes to life when adding water. It's something magic about it. I have tried acrylic and oil as well but overall it didn't click for me as watercolour did. I do love all the unique effects different mediums have and even if I choose watercolour I think I paint with it in my own way, almost as if it was a mix of all mediums. It's like the bees who is theoretically to heavy to fly but believe they can, and that's how they fly. I believe I can paint watercolour as if it was any other medium and that's how it works for me.

3. Any new mediums you're itching to try?

I would like to add ink in my paintings. It seems to add something extra, a very interesting texture.


4. What would your dream project be?

I think it would be to work with people who can reach out in different directions than I can. To be in a project when everyone doing what they are best at and the result turns out to be something awesome that no one in the  group would have been able to do by them self. I would also love to take more time to write down my stories and release books with my own illustrations.

5. Describe your studio/workspace. What would you change, given the resources?

My workspace is very small so someday I hope I will be able to have my very own art studio. But at this instant moment I try to just have the most important things i really use. Besides the actual brushes and colours all I need is a desk, some wifi, a cup of coffee or tea with a small plate of a wide selection of dark chocolate. That is what keeps me going.

6. Do you like to warm up before drawing? If so, what fun exercises do you work on to get in the zone? (ex. Noun generator, word games, etc.)

I never really warm up, I realize that now when I think about it. If I performed sports as I perform painting I guess I would be all bruised up and have the worst pain ever in my limbs. But some good music can always get me in the zone. But that is just when I paint because if I write i rather have it silent.


7. What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a professional artist?

To be professional is the most difficult part!  I have never been in any art school or anything like that, and sometimes that can play silly games with my mind. I believe that you don't need to go through an art school to be able to call yourself an "artist". But of course that can be a big help since you have a degree to show people and so forth. So many pros there. Anyway as an “unschooled” artist you have to just trust yourself and go from there.

So I would say the most difficult part of being a professional artist is when you think less of yourself for not being schooled. That can takes an awful lot of energy and time away from your creativity.

8. What's your favorite thing to draw/paint/create?

I love to involve trees and animals here and there. Some eyes in a dark corner and just random details of any kind. I also begin to love dramatic shadows to add some atmosphere. When I think about it I guess I am more into a certain atmosphere in a painting than certain things.


9. How do you prevent/combat artist's block? Do you have tried-and-true methods of nurturing your creativity?

If i have a creative blackout i have noticed myself to not pressure myself, just go out do something else, using the time instead of forcing creativity back to me. It is very nice to just read a comic book, or enjoy a movie, or go out to a nice café with no stress, because I know creativity comes and goes, it will not be blocked out for forever. While being in the middle of a painting it is different though, since a certain part of the process always is less exciting than others. At those times i just work through it to reach the more exciting parts of the process.

10. Just for fun: Dragons or unicorns?

If I had to pick one I would probably pick a dragon because there is a lot of things about them that I love. I imagine their scales as some kind of gem or jewellery kind of material who can change colour depending on how the light hits it. Only that is pretty awesome. I like that there is both good and bad dragons. They love shining things and can have a wide variety of colours. I wouldn't mind putting a unicorn horn in its face though. That could become a new kind of dragon, a “unicorn dragon”.


11. Best advice you have for emerging artists?

Never give up, believe in yourself because you can accomplice things you didn't know you could. If your schooled or not doesn't matter. It's all from the inside, your heart and mind.

You can follow Jonas on Instagram @jonasofsheaves or use the Instagram hashtag #jonasofsheavesart for more art.

Visit his blog at: