What if screwdrivers didn’t want to screw anymore? Erlend Peder Kvam’s new illustrated book investigates

The Leipzig-based illustrator’s publication explores a reality in which the tools humans have created decide they want to pursue a different role in life.

4 April 2023

What has always made Erlend Peder Kvam’s work so brilliant is his ability to let his mind run away with itself, creating new – often quite farcical – realities. This was the case in 2020, when we last spoke to the illustrator, and remains as such with the release of his new book Tools of Encouragement. Throughout its pages, adorned with colourful characters and finished in his trademark style, Erlend questions: what if the tools we make one day decided they didn’t want to carry out their specific function anymore?

Such a unique topic arose after Erlend began musing on subjects like the regularity at which humans question their ‘purpose’ in life. “I guess it was a bit easier some years ago, when you would inherit whatever profession your parents had,” Erlend ponders. “As my father is a farmer, my purpose in life would also be a farmer. I guess it would be good! But today things are more complicated.”

Alongside this pondering, a disparate line of thought also began bugging Erlend – the fact that one of the things that divides humans from animals is our ability to create tools. “These tools, whether they are material or conceptual, are always created with a purpose to perform a certain task.” Combining these thoughts, with his previous thoughts on human free-will and ‘purpose’, Erlend devised an entirely new concept: “as tools get more civilised, we must reckon they also want to do other stuff than what they were made to do. This is somehow what happens in my book.”


Erlend Peder Kvam: Remembering the signs (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)

As you can imagine, this results in some pretty absurd scenes: water bottles and toilet rolls doing a spot of shopping; a group of torches engaging in an orgy; and nails reading newspapers. However, most of the scenes remain somewhat nonsensical, pushing their audience to accept ignorance or fabricate their own storyline. To really get into the mind of his characters, Erlend will try to create works from their perspective. This was the case with his piece Spike News. “This was actually a drawing I had in mind for a long time, but didn’t figure out how to do it ‘right’,” Erlend explains. “I have to admit that I was very happy with the solution of making the drawing from the spikes’ perspective – which of course is a vertical perspective.”

Putting what he preaches into practice, Erlend shares that, as an illustrator, he’s always very conscious of his tools. “I have to treat them as good friends, I have to be faithful to them and not change them all the time”. Religiously using a thick Edding marker pen alongside a thin Rotring pen, Erlend manages to create such depth and layers with simple mark making – the thicker lines give his work the playful, naive impression, while the thinner allows for small details and textures to be made.

Overall, Erlend is “super happy” with how the book came together, and it’s now being published all over the globe by one of his “all time favourite” publishers Nieves. So if you’ve ever wondered if the various tools in your life are planning a revolt, it might be worth getting your hands on a copy.

In 2020 Erlend starting his own independent zine label Foot Books alongside Martin Asbjørnsen, take a look at it here.


Erlend Peder Kvam: Lights On (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: Spike News (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: Right Way (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: At the ISFC (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: At the ISFC (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: Beg the bag (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: Trust your feet (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)


Erlend Peder Kvam: Transference (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)

Hero Header

Erlend Peder Kvam: The Plague (Copyright © Erlend Peder Kvam and Nieves, 2023)

Share Article

About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.