Here is another must read interview with an extremely talented designer by the name of Niklas Lundberg. Only 22 years old and already a part of the Depth Core Collective creating, some astounding art. In our interview we discuss why he chose to become a designer and the trouble he had at first with achieving that goal. Niklas also shares a lot of interesting tips and info for the readers about the practice of creating art.
Q Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?
My name is Niklas, I am 22-years old and I was born in Umeå, Sweden where I also currently live and work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. My passion for digital art started in 2002. As everyone else at that time I started out at the famous DeviantArt community. At this time it was just a hobby, something I did after school just for fun. Later, I applied for a high school with a media program which was a completely new school so it wasn't easy to determine if it would be good or not. Unfortunately it left me with little satisfaction. I applied because I thought there would be other people with the same interests as me but most of the students only applied because they got a free laptop.
I got bored and tired of school after 2 years and I felt like applying for something else but I looked around and I managed to find an internship at a local agency/printer which I worked at for around 8 months or so. In the meantime I was building my portfolio and I was determined I could manage without school, since I had so many bad experiences from it, it was the only option for me. So after my internship, I managed to get a small position at a construction/road company called NCC, where my dad works. I was still building my portfolio during this time and I set a new goal, to become independent. My own boss.
After 2 years I finally managed to take this step. Peter over at Ars Thanea contacted me about a possible job for Nissan and asked me what I would be doing for the next month. I was so happy, I got my first big freelance gig. Since I worked under my dad there was no problem to quit immediately because he was very supportive and understood that this was my real goal and we had already been talking about it 6 months prior to that. Just a month after I finished the job for Ars Thanea I felt confident that this is what I would be doing. Instead of working from home I wanted it to feel more like a job so I looked around for office spaces. In the meantime I was also looking for possible client work and at an interview with a local agency called Racer, I also told them I was looking for a place to sit and they told me that maybe I could rent from them and it felt like a brilliant idea. So I have been renting from them ever since. I love the separation of home and work it gives me more motivation and satisfaction.
Q If you had to place your specific design style in a certain genre what would it be and why? What has mainly influenced you to create the type of art you make?
The funny thing is that I can't really put my work into a genre, I don't even get inspired by the same kind of work that I do myself, I find it nice to look at for sure but it's not my main source of inspiration. I am mostly influenced by photography, architecture and fashion and most importantly music. I think once you reach a certain point with your work that your style can count as your own it's important to maintain consistency with your own style. I always look at my style to be the composition itself, it leaves room to play with new elements and new techniques, but its how I put it together that makes it mine.
Q When working on a design are you strictly using Photoshop? Or do you draw a rough draft of your design before hand?
I threw away my mouse out the window some time ago and completely replaced it with a Wacom. It was the best thing I have ever done, it takes a few weeks to get used to but if you don't unplug your mouse you won't get used to it as fast because you will always move your hand to the mouse every time the Wacom feels awkward. So I often use my Wacom to make rough drafts of what I want to produce, it's just faster and I can add several layers and colors with ease. Of course at times paper and pen is the way to go as well, it all depends on the situation.
Q What is the first step you take after an idea hits you? After that walk us through your normal workflow for an illustration.
I am a heavy user of an application called "Things" where I write everything down with the combination of fast sketches. Things is also available on the iPhone so I can put all my thoughts in there wherever I am then just sync them via wifi when I get to my computer. I try to put all the key elements in there so I know somewhat what I want to achieve. After I know what I want to achieve, I usually start in Photoshop and mock up a few fast compositions and play around with color, I think it's very important even though in the beginning to get a nice feel to it so you know what you want to aim for. I usually work with Photoshop and Illustrator simultaneously. I draw shapes in Illustrator which I then import into Photoshop as vector smart objects. From there on everything else just comes naturally.
Q "A final release" is an extraordinarily unique illustration you made for Depthcore's latest exhibition. Please walk us through the creation of the piece and also talk a little about how you used cardboard cutouts in it.
I always try to find new ideas for every piece that I make. I wanted to create something by hand and then bring it in and digitalize it. I got the idea of folding black cardboard after making a few sketches that ended up looking like folded paper. After I had the shapes down I photographed different angles of it and imported it into Photoshop. After that it was pure magic, I blacked out for 4 months, then I woke up and the piece was finished. Joke aside, the piece really took about 4 months though, I was never really able to finish it because I never really knew what to do with the shapes. I had the shapes finished in February and got it finished after a hard working weekend in June.
Q You have been commissioned to create artwork for several high profile clients, what would you say is the key to landing jobs as a freelance designer?
Probably a lot of you already know that the key is contacts. The real question is how do you go about to get these contacts. A lot of my commissions have gone through agencies, which has allowed me to work with different clients that they already have in their contact roster. Like everyone else I always try to promote myself by e-mailing, giving out business cards and I have learned that it is always best do go straight to the agencies. If you go straight to the client (depending on the client of course) it can be difficult to establish a connection since the probably already have an agency that does all their work. If you know a client that you want to work for why not find out which agency they use and call them up or email them your portfolio. I think it's the best way to proceed. You can always get an agent to do this promotion for you, that being said I am currently looking for any international agents that are willing to represent my work, so if you are reading this get in touch with me!
Q Not too long ago you updated your portfolio Diftype with some new art, do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
That's right. I think it was long time overdue but I am always such a perfectionist when it comes to my own portfolio, I want to be 100% satisfied with it. I have a few new works to be released I am just waiting on client confirmation on some of them. So stay tuned.
Q Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed. A big thanks to everyone who follows me and my work. I want to let you know that I will open up a small web-shop soon where I will sell prints. For more information you can follow me on twitter.
Where to find Niklas on the Web