INTERVIEW WITH NIKLAS ASKER:
Today Niklas Asker joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Illustrator! Niklas is a painter, graphic novelist and illustrator. In his commercial work he has done everything from illustrating the advent calendar for Swedish television in 2009 to adapting the Random House bestseller The City of Ember into a graphic novel.
In 2009 Niklas first original graphic novel, Second Thoughts, was published by Top Shelf Comics. Since then the book has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Danish.
In September 2009 he had his first solo show in Malmö, Sweden and has been exhibiting regularly since then.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
After studying painting for three years after high school I decided to apply to the Comics Art School in Malmö, Sweden, where I studied for two years. I really felt that I wanted to make comics, my own comics, but it's really hard to get by making your own comics even if you get published, especially if your comics are a little alternative and for older audiences. So for me, as for almost all the comics artists I know, I started searching for illustration gigs. Now, 10 years later, I've done almost all kinds of illustrations you can imagine; newspapers, kid’s books, commercial, TV-spots and lots and lots of covers for magazines and books.
Who influenced you?
So many different people. The artists that opened my mind in the beginning, erasing the line between comics, illustration and "fine art" include Kent Williams, James Jean, Dave McKean and Paul Pope. Lately I've been more influenced by painters and have been studying classic painting a lot more. But influences change all the time.
Do you have a favorite artist/subject/medium?
No/no/oil paint and ink
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an illustrator?
Be inspired by others, but try not to get too influenced, you can never get "as good" as your idols because you are not them. You have, however, things and abilities that they don't have. Figure out what those are, what's special about you and your life? Often a flaw is what makes us special, for example, I often have no patience in drawing EVERYTHING in the background of pictures. I focus on what's important and leave other things out and therefore have developed a style that is maybe more impressionistic and partially abstract than others. It makes me special.
Where is your favorite place to work?
In my studio, where I can control the environment (music, light, temperature)
What else would you like to tell us?
Almost always the artists that I find interesting are the ones that have tried different things in life. A carpenter who became a fine arts sculptor, a painter who became a set designer, an art historian who became a poet. Looking outside your field makes your world bigger and your art better.
I try to mix my art making. These days I mostly paint and work with galleries in Sweden and abroad, but I'm sure to come back to comics one of these days.
Also, as a short newsflash, my book Second Thoughts is released in Spanish in the spring from Roca Editorial. It is now available in 6 languages, the original English version available at Top Shelf Comics.
Niklas, it has been a pleasure having you join us for Six Minutes with an Illustrator! It is been an exciting interview!