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Work / Illustration

Artist and illustrator Karl Joel Larsson turns his attention to people

When we last featured artist and illustrator Karl Joel Larsson’s work it was steeped in the traditions of past masters – particularly Picasso and Matisse. Since then, Karl has been focusing his work on developing his own style, and in particular concentrating his efforts on drawing people. “I first started drawing people in my Matisse paraphrases. Gradually, after I’d found more of my own way of drawing I began to realise how one-sided women where portrayed in a lot of Matisse’s work. And he was not alone in this, art history is full of similar works. I found that I too had fallen into that same trap with my paraphrases, I hadn’t reflected on things like skin colour, body shapes and body language and posturing,” Karl explains. “In those drawings I thought of the people as just like another part of the interior. Now the people I draw take centre stage and the rest of the motif is composed around them.”

Karl’s new work is simple and emotive, looking for ways to explore situations that spark interest in the viewer with an economical use of line and colour. “These days I always reflect on how to draw people in a fair way. I’m exploring how I can draw women in a dignified manner with love and respect. I am also exploring how I can portray people without gender defining them,” he says. “Often in my drawings it doesn’t feel at all relevant to define genders. I want to create images that are open to everyone, which doesn’t exclude. This is both a work and personal development that I feel I’ve just begun. It’s something that I’ll always continue to explore and develop.”

Having taken the time to produce these personal works, Karl has been collaborating with independent magazines and print makers such as In Shades, Yuck Print House in Manchester and Mästerverk in Malmö, Sweden. “I feel like I’m in that slightly weird state of building up a freelance practice where there’s a lot of fun commissions coming my way,” he says. “I’m focusing on developing my drawing skills and my style and building a more solid portfolio with which to draw future clients.”

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Karl Joel Larsson: Friends reclining in the park

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Karl Joel Larsson: Billie Holiday – Solitude (Take 1)

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Karl Joel Larsson: Luciana

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Karl Joel Larsson: Bla Bla Bla for Masterverk

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Karl Joel Larsson: The Art Student

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Karl Joel Larsson: In Shades Magazine

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Karl Joel Larsson: Love Songs

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Karl Joel Larsson: The Sailor

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Karl Joel Larsson: Work for FEM project