“I need to be entertained by my own work – I guess that’s also part of what motivates me,” says Erlend Peder Kvam.
It is safe to say that the Norwegian illustrator’s work does indeed entertain. Both silly and strange, his character-based illustrations open up a realm of different realities, each one a little weirder than the last. Some are based purely on visuals, with detailed scenes providing intrigue. Others are more literal, relying on comic imagery combined with text – the perfect example being his People With Signs series.
The previous time we wrote about Erlend’s work (over three years ago), it was a lot more defined, featuring clean lines and blocks of colour. In this period of time, he has moved away from this in favour of a more naive approach, that relies less on straight lines and uses colour sparingly.
This isn’t an overly thought out decision, he says, but more of a natural one: “Colours come and go! I guess it’s just a period. I know that I hate the feeling of repeating myself, so I feel like I’m constantly trying to renew something within the way I’m drawing,” he tells us. “I guess this feeling of freshness is part of what keeps me going, although I will always return to the basics – analogue drawing with pen and paper. I’m quite happy with how my drawings look right now!”
That isn’t to say that Erlend is going to settle with how he currently works. In fact, he is seemingly always on the lookout for new ways to experiment: “I enjoy exploring new techniques, and have been switching a lot from analogue to digital drawing, and from 2D to 3D a lot,” he says. “After seeing a huge retrospective of the dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom's work, I’ve also got more and more interested in photography as well – I hope my future works will be more photo-based.”
Having graduated with a BA in graphic design and illustration from Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 2018, Erlend was in performance group Narves1biblioteket prior to pursuing art full time. He has since managed to build up some impressive commissions and a bulging portfolio in this short space of time. “Well, I did a book for Nieves right before Christmas! That was a big deal for me,” he explains. “Otherwise I’m just working with a good combination of personal works and commissions. I have been working a lot with a band called Pom Poko, and I also collaborated with Steph Davidson on an interactive illustration for Bloomberg Businessweek. I love how that one ended up.”
Inspiration from Erlend comes from a variety of sources, yet fitting with his outlook on things he cites Suddenly This Overview, the clay sculpture series by Fischli and Weiss, as a particularly impactful piece. “The two artists were working on this project in between others for many years, with no pressure or ambitions, it resulted in an overwhelmingly playful series full of ideas and witty insight. I find it very inspiring,” he explains.
Continuing on his path to embracing new ideas and media, his next project is actually a departure from his analogue work that we have seen of late. “For the last few months, I’ve been working with the Norwegian rapper Cezinando. Our work will be released very soon, it’s a lot of 3D graphics and animations and I’m very stoked about the whole thing,” he says. “His lyrics are genius, it’s a pity they are only in Norwegian!”
Having graduated less than two years ago, and only recently turning his focus to illustration full time, it is easy to forget that Erlend is still at the beginning of his journey. “I guess that’s about it,” he says. “My career hasn’t been too long, yet!”
GalleryErlend Peder Kvam
Erlend Peder Kvam
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.