Karin Rönmark is a Swedish illustrator based in Stockholm. Her work, which gently treads the line between bright layered surface design and narrative drawing explores positive themes like play, discovery and the lives of inspirational figures. In a colour-blocked style that seems closer to traditional print than hand-drawn illustration, Karin’s human and animal characters move through a vivid world buzzing with possibility and intrigue.
She says, ‘I’m mostly interested in illustration as storytelling and communication. I’ve been very into nature recently; its complexity and richness. For all the crazy ideas you ever have, nature has already created something crazier, more absurd, stranger or more beautiful. I guess this obsession also is due to my concern with global warming and environmental issues. Thinking about all the animals and plants that die out everyday sometimes terrifies me. There are species we haven’t even discovered yet becoming extinct and we’ll never know we’ve missed them.’
Her thoughtful use of natural subject matter is influenced not only by her beliefs and concerns but also by her immediate surroundings. Karin’s choice to move into a flat surrounded by plants and animals meant that her work soon became saturated with these things. She tells us, ‘I’m a hoarder of plants, my tiny apartment is a jungle and I grow veggies on my balcony. I can’t get enough. In terms of my other inspirations, I always look at crafts and folk art from around the world. At the moment I’m very into traditional textiles. Books I read, films I see, things I do and people I meet all influence me too.’
Karin’s list of chosen tools consists of a Wacom tablet, computer with Photoshop, classic felt-tip pens and a sketchbook. Splitting her time between her studio, which she shares with seven other creatives, and her bed or sofa, she works on a mix of personal projects and commissions. Karin cites her agent as being integral when it comes to seeking out companies and organisations to work with. Graduating with an art foundation, BA in graphic design and MA in storytelling from Konstfack, Stockholm, Karin quickly began working with an agent and has since worked with a range of interiors brands, publications, education and packaging companies and more. Further to hiring an agent, Karin’s tips for young creatives hoping to become professional illustrators are simply, try to be yourself and don’t give up.
This artist’s self-initiated illustrations are probably our favourite aspect of her portfolio. A far cry from outfit of the day scribbles or cute pet portraits, these colourful drawings depict the likes of Nobel Prize winners and female adventurers. Having always been interested in natural science and how the world works, Karin regularly attempts to demonstrate her belief that physics, biology and nature make the word somehow bigger and richer through her flair for creating original images.
’The history of natural science is mostly a male story’ she says, ‘not because there have been no female scientists and explorers but because we have forgotten them in writing. Some years back when my older brother’s daughter was born, I felt an urge to provide her with a history of brave and smart women to be inspired by. Of course, it was also an opportunity for me to read about amazing women. My personal, self initiated works often spring from a urge to tell a story or explore something. I often get obsessed with a particular theme such as space, explorers or beautiful plants.’
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth