I've been a fan of Annika Wester's work for some time now. Annika is a Swedish illustrator living and working in Paris. Her work, hand drawn for the most part, is a beautiful mix of the fantastical and real life things that inspire her. All the while her work includes delicate details with a timeless feel whether she's drawing from nature or archtitecture. Most of Annika's inspiration comes from the world around her; her passion for clothes, movies, music and her environment, but most of all from her own imagination and background.
Her enviable client list includes Anna Sui, MAC Cosemetics, Vogue Girl, Penguin Books, and Knoll International. She has also exhibited in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, Stockholm and New York. She is currently working on magazine assignments for Japanese and European clients as well as a series of paintings on materials collected from antique stores.
What originally made you want to become an illustrator?
When I finished years art studies that I decided right away, but I thought about it for a long time since my childhood years. I have combined my lifelong interest in drawing and painting along with my interest in clothes, beauty and other things.
What inspires your work?
It is mostly my own imagination and ability to think very freely as soon as I start drawing and painting. I also get inspired by movies, music, clothes, fun people and stories.
Would you recommend working for an agency to aspiring illustrators?
I think that all has to do with how well one connects with the agent as a person also the agent has to really work at getting jobs and the illustrator must also deliver. It is very much about building up a strong relationship. I would not like to depend only on agents, because I am strong at dealing myself and I like to handle some clients on my own too, outside their territories.
Have you ever have any ethical issues about the use of your work?
Absolutely, I have though not come across so many obstacles that way during my 15-year old career as an illustrator. I have turned down clients offers for that reason a few times. But, I work for fashion magazines where they do major retouching of women, and that is very tiresome. I mean, a person's face or body can turn into something unrecognizable and I wonder when that madness is going to stop.
Do you find yourself being constantly inspired or do you sometimes have to search for inspiration?
I don't need to search too much, I am curious by nature and use a lot of things I see, feel and hear around me.
Do you have a typical working environment like a studio where you work every day?
I work in one room in my home where there is a lot of daylight with a grand view of the sky. I had a spot in a studio with other creatives in Stockholm where I used to live, but I actually missed sitting at home having my lovely cat around (I brought him to the office sometimes but he made a bit of a mess and his footprints were everywhere!).
How are when it comes to meeting deadlines? I know a lot of artists and designers who put off working on projects until the very last minute and then do their work in some kind of frenzy.
It depends, if the assignment is not so time consuming then its okay. Otherwise, I need more time to finish. The thing is also that many magazines, newspapers and ad agencies often give people a very short time to finish a job. Then one must work weekends, at night or so... I don't mind, the most important thing during a rush is that the communication is clear. But I would not like that with my own works, the ones where the deadlines are decided when I say they are finished.
Have you ever used, or plan to use, digital media to create your work?
What I use as digital media is Photoshop. I always draw by hand, but I can adjust handpainted colour or recolour that way, using filters and so on. For some clients, I totally colour in Photoshop and save in layers so that I can adjust easily.
Is Paris a good place for you to live and work?
Yes and no. I enjoy living here and it is a good place to hang out, but most of my clients are abroad. I must say though, that when I get a French clients they are usually very good ones. Paris is very different from, let us say, New York; it is not on an international scale the way French clients often think.
What are currently obsessed with?
Right now, I just enjoyed going to south France to be by the sea or sitting on a sunny terrasse with a dear one. No need for anything else. Otherwise, my life and view on things around are there to give something to tell.
You can find examples of Annika's work on her blog HERE