Our Featured Designer of The Week is the absolutely lovely, Michelle Carlslund! We got in touch with the Danish Illustrator to find out more about her work and she was able to give us a truly insightful look at her process and shine a light on how to become a successful Designer and Illustrator…
We met Michelle at Pulse 2016, where she grabbed our attention with her gorgeous stall. Her space at Pulse consisted of 3 vast walls full of her sweet and quirky illustrations, all of which were beautiful framed in simple and chic frames. Not only is it clear from Michelle’s work that she is a very talented Illustrator, but she has also managed to brand her work in a simple, strong and stylish manor – a lot of thought and time has gone into all that surrounds her designs which is key to branding yourself as a professional and serious Illustrator and something that is often overlooked by creatives that are trying to get noticed in the industry.
Michelle sees herself as a morph of a kid and a grown-up, and her aim is to bring out some playfulness in us grown-ups leading our busy lives with jobs, responsibility and stress.
So introduce us to Michelle Carlslund?
Well, my name is Michelle Carlslund and I am a 27 years old Danish illustrator based in the old part of Copenhagen, where work and live.
When did you first get into Illustration?
My mother is very creative. We always made handmade invitations for our birthdays and I have always drawn and painted. I did not have a clue, though, that it would be my way of making a living until 5-6 years ago. I started out photographing and got a taste for creating images. I wanted to put all kinds of crazy costumes, animals and other props in my photographs. With no money or means to make such complicated staged photographs I started cutting and pasting things into my photographs. Over time the photographical elements were replaced by cut-outs and drawn elements and it developed into the style I have today. After Photography school, I studied Design and Graphic Design, but didn’t actually finish my education. I got more freelance commissions and started to produce posters that I sold at markets and in small shops and in 2013 I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye to school and hello to a life as a self-employed illustrator.
How did you develop your own personal style and what was that journey like?
I did not really do anything specific to develop the style I have today. It is just the way I draw. Of course I have practiced drawing a lot and I’m always trying to refine my skills, but I am sort of stuck in my style, [laughs] – and luckily I have not grown tired of it yet. Even though it could be very fun to make great 3D art, hand lettering, graffiti, sign painting and so on. These are all things I hope I can explore some time later in my career.
Are there any significant influences or inspirations that go into your illustrations?
I do get inspired by things around me – but in quite an unconscious way. Trends and colours crawl under my skin and sneak their way into my work with out me deliberately deciding that I want to go in that direction. I get a lot of inspiration just from browsing Instagram or Pinterest. It is not often that I actually save stuff or remember the names of the designers but I like to just scroll and scroll and just be filled up with visual impressions.
“I try not to be pretentious in my work – one human quality I really treasure in other people is self irony and I like to have a twist of that in my work too.”
Would you be willing to give us a bit of insight into your creative process?
It is so varied, how I work. If I am making products for my own collections I often get an idea of a theme, colours or an actual finished image in my head. On the good days it is just about getting it down on paper first and then finalizing it on the computer using my Wacom Board. Other times it doesn’t work with me and I have to put it away and get back to it when I have saved up some creative energy! Often when I work on commissions for clients they have some specific wishes and then I need to research and write down ideas, then I make a mood board and send it to the client to be sure that we are on the same page and then I can start drawing sketches. When I work with clients there is a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth via email. The design process on my personal work is a lot more quiet, obviously.
What advice would you give to any young and budding creatives that read our blog?
Collaborate as much as you can as early on in your career as possible, even though the pay is very low in the beginning, but it will allow you to practice – both on your skills, the process of doing a job from idea to delivery and on the business of being a designer. Your network is really important. It is also a good idea to make an effort on building a beautiful visual universe around your designs. Make a sleek website and try to post great pictures on an Instagram for you or your brand.