FUCK THIS REAL LIFE SHIT - Interview with Johan Åberg



I am one of many weird art kids in the world who was always drawing stuff in school, modifying existing drawings in textbooks, etcetera. I eventually grew into one of many weird art guys on the internet. I hope to become a successful weird art man on the internet (and perhaps in the real world if it is convenient) some day.



Tell us a little bit about your illustration style. Why does this kind of style appeal to you?

I think my illustration style is mainly influenced by the line-art tradition intended to look good in print. These methods are arbitrary now in the digital age, but still holds verisimilitude and value to people like me. I love comics, I love the art of comics and I love the wild, untamed nature of comics. I also love the crazy doodles you'd make to offend and concern your teachers. This is the foundation.


What influences your subject matter? Where do your ideas come from?

The question where ideas come from is, to me, probably best answered like this: People have different types of brains. My kind of brain is always on, always absorbing through osmosis and always daydreaming. Comics and pop culture influence my subject matter. As does so-called high culture, Instagram lowbrow artists and late night wikipedia surfing. It all adds up. I enjoy putting it all in a blender and seeing what comes out. Sometimes I strain to come up with stuff, other times it turns out my mind has been working in the background as I'm doing other stuff.


I also think a lot of artists want to move people. Me included. Since I can't be bothered or motivated to move people based on what they like, I strive to move people who think like me or to hopefully offend people who don't. I'd love to be banned by some loser out there. It probably won't happen.


What is most important to you about art and illustration?

The craft. Crude stuff is nice, but I've always wanted to be good at drawing. Imagination is also very important. That's what it's all about. Fuck this real life shit, give me some fuel for a good day dream.



What kind of environment do you enjoy working in?

I am, predictably, a total shut-in. I draw at home. On rare occasions, I'll take the sketchbook outside but home is where the equipment is. Though I don't think I'm an introvert, I wish I had more of an outgoing side and was better at networking with other artists I admire.


Do you have a favorite artist? If so, what is it about them and their work that you love?

Probably Frank Quitely or the late Steve Dillon. Quitely has that Moebius line and eye for detail and staging. Dillon had that immaculate character acting down.


What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?

Besides obvious stuff like absorbing comics and movies and occasionally reading books, I recently developed an interest in tinkering with stuff. I now enjoy building the rare bit of furniture from some reclaimed materials or organizing the comic collection or spice rack.


What are some things you hope viewers take away from your work?

I hope they find my subject matter inspiring. I also hope that they think my pastiches, references and homages are witty. Most of all, I hope they see that my work is perfect for whatever cool project they're working on and that they reach out to me and make me an offer.


What is your favorite horror movie? Why?

Blue Velvet. It's just so utterly unsettling and intense and an utterly hostile experience. Lynch really is a vile man underneath all that meditation and buddhist stuff, and I mean that in the best way. "Baby wants to fuck!", indeed.


What are your goals for 2018?

Oh, just to get better at what I'm doing. I want to keep it up, expand my following. Hopefully, I get somewhere with my plans for art exhibits and an online store. One or two people have asked me about prints. I'd like to get to a point where doing a Patreon or Kickstarter won't be a humiliating failure.


What is your favorite song, band, or artist to listen to while you're illustrating and animating?

I don't listen to music when I work. It stresses me out for some reason. Never been a huge music guy. I have to get in the mood to put it on. I've found that a nice droning podcast is the perfect background sound for drawing. I'll give any old podcast a try to drown out the silence. I think they're a godsend for people working from home. That said, I still love collaborating with musicians on their album covers.


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