Therese Larsson is a professional illustrator located in Sweden who has created some incredible works for clients like Disney, Google, Coca-Cola, and many more. In this interview, Therese discusses her path to becoming a professional illustrator and the lessons she learned along the way.
QWelcome to Psdtuts+ and thank you for joining us for this
interview! Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you are from and how you got started in the field?
Hello my name is Therese Larsson and I'm a professional illustrator currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. I specialize in character design. I first started off when I got out of secondary upper school and I never actually went to art school. At first I had to take on projects with little to no pay at all just to get the experience. It was a struggle economically but my parents helped me a lot despite not having a lot of money themselves. Although I had a few years with a lot of uncertainty it all paid off in the end. You have to be willing to work hard for your goals, sometimes for many years.
QFor many, illustration is not an easy field to get into. Why did
you want to become an artist and what motivates you in your work?
I knew it was a tough business and I didn't expect to make it as an illustrator, so I applied for regular jobs. I didn't get anything though, so I actually did not have a choice. Illustrating was the only thing I was sort of good at. I had no artistic pride; I drew whatever I had to just to get some pay. I was an illustration opportunist. Drawing stuff you don't want to draw is actually something you have to come to terms with, but it gets easier as the years go by and you can become more specialized.
QYou’re an expert in different mediums too, not just digital. Many artists find the transition from traditional to digital mediums a difficult one, did you experience the same?
I started as a traditional artist as well and I also found the transition really difficult in the beginning. Now I would never go back because you really have a hundred percent control over what you create. As a pro, it's basically the only way. Time is money and projects can change fast, so digital art really excels over traditional in that sense.
QWhat are your favorite tools to work with and how do they help you work better?
I work in Photoshop CS6 and I paint using a Wacom Cintiq 24-inch HD screen and my work station is a 32GB HP Z1 which I love. It's important to have a strong computer and if you can afford a cintiq it’s a great investment.
QMuch of your work features the most adorable character designs of animals, what do you enjoy the most about illustrating animals?
I have always been fascinated by animals. They come in a huge scope of colors and textures which to me as an artist is fun to draw. When I don't work I paint what interests me, and since I love cute animals it's naturally something that awakens my inspiration. I'm a huge fan of animated movies and it's something I would love to work more with in the future, so I try to paint a lot in that style too.
Q“Don’t worry, I have it covered” is a sweet illustration full of
expression of an adorable concept. How did you come up with the concept for this piece? Could you walk us through a little of the process?
I started off painting a chubby owl sitting on a ridiculously small twig simply because chubby owls are cute. When I was almost finished my boyfriend thought the picture was a little empty so he basically came
up with the concept of adding the mouse and the leaf. Don't be afraid to ask for input from friends and family. They can be very creative even though they may not be able to draw for themselves.
QAmongst your extensive list of clients are Disney, Google, and
Coca-Cola. What advice do you have for illustrators who are building their portfolio?
It can be hard to get big clients and there is really no other way than to send out your art and try to put yourself out there. But with clients there is usually a snowball effect. For me it was getting my first big break working with IKEA. To be able to put IKEA on my resume was kind of like getting a certificate of quality. Clients can be very cautious but if they see that you have one or a few big names it’s easier to get more big names on the list.
QThank you again for the opportunity to interview you for Psdtuts+!
Are there any final thoughts or words of advice that you might have for our readers?
Paint what you love and don't try following trends too much. Be aware of them and learn from them but don’t be a slave to fads because chances are you will only become a pale copy. Try finding your own style and become great at it. Practice and persistence will always win over lazy talent.