RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Michelle Carlslund’s charming and playful illustrations are characterised by her clean shapes and soft pastel colour palette. Michelle produces work for her eco friendly brand, which is stocked in over 100 kids and design shops worldwide, and also for a range of commercial clients as part of her freelance practice.
Michelle shares her reflections and valuable lessons she has learned throughout her career, including how focussing on her unique strengths as an artist has helped develop her practice. You can enjoy more of Michelle’s work in Pictoria Volume.1, The Best Contemporary Illustrators Worldwide.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a Danish illustrator and I have been working freelance and with my own brand (posters for kids) since 2013.
How would you describe your work?
I aim to make work that is charming, nostalgic with clean shapes and lines and a Northern colour palette. I work mostly on products for kids, but it is a big goal of mine always to make designs that appeal to the parents as well. To make things that you don't necessarily want to hide away the minute the kids are asleep at night.
How do you go about creating your artwork? Do you prefer to work digitally or with traditional media?
I work mainly digitally now. It really fits my mood well that I can move around the elements, play with colour and delete something if necessary. I hate to start over on a design and when I make my work digitally I almost never have to.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am working on three different children’s books simultaneously. One bedtime story about a baby bear with pull out panels and ribbons to discover. Two others with the themes Space and Dinosaurs with pop out dolls that the kids can assemble and play with while reading.
Who or what are the top five inspirations for your work?
It is not very original but I really like to just go on Pinterest or Behance and look at beautiful things. I almost never notice names or websites - just browse and browse and usually after that I get a thousand ideas for posters or colour palettes that I want to try out.
What's one resource every artist, illustrator or designer should know about?
Hmm.. As I said Behance or Pinterest, but I am sure they know those places already!
What is the most valuable lesson you've learned during your time working in the creative industries?
I am still practicing this one, but I try to not think too hard about what I think people would like. At least in my first ideas or sketches - then I of course listen to client feedback if I am working for a client. But I try to make what I like myself and hopefully just because of that people will like it because it is not like anything else they see. I often want to be able to draw like others or do a craft, but I really try to tell myself that what I can do also is special and that I should just keep doing it.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
When I was younger I wanted to do everything myself. I was creating poster collections, running a shared office space with my boyfriend, going to trade show after trade show to sell my new products. Doing photoshoots, packing orders, managing production, running the web shop, designing catalogues and so on and on and on! It was too stressful and really also dissatisfactory because who does all those things well at the same time? Not me! Now I have outsourced a lot of practical stuff, I am not going to trade shows anymore and I am focusing a lot more on working freelance instead of making a lot of products myself. This way, most of my time is spent drawing which is really what I like most about the business. However, having managed all the other aspects really has taught me a lot.
What are your professional goals for the next year?
Well, we are actually having our second baby in the beginning of next year. This time I have promised myself not to take on as much work in that first time of his life as I did with our daughter, Cleo. So a goal is to say yes to the most exciting job offers that I just can't resist and to find a nice balance between family life and the work that I love!