Swedish illustrator Kilian Eng is the natural heir to the Moebius throne of staggering sci-fi artwork. In his relatively short career he’s imagined bewilderingly complex intergalactic landscapes, the architecture of numerous hypothetical civilisations, reinvigorated countless movie franchises with his reimagining of their theatre posters and worked on any number of extraordinary commercial projects too.
He’s also been the subject of two monographs of his work, and the first of these Object 10, has just been re-published to satisfy some serious demand. To honour this auspicious occasion we caught up with Killian to find out about the evolution of his work and his sci-fi obsession.
This is a reissue of a previously published book, why did you decide to reprint and are there any updates?
The main reason was that both me and Jason Leivian (the publisher) felt that the first edition didn’t do the images perfect justice and we wanted to present them in better quality and larger format. Also the first printing sold out and people have been asking about a reprint so it felt right to create a definite edition of it.
Tell us about the period of your life during which this work was made.
The artwork was made during the two years or so after I graduated. It was a very productive period. It’s not that long ago, and I still like to keep busy, but there was probably a certain energy to that period. I think the most important aspect was the complete freedom I felt. I wasn’t doing that many commissions yet so I could spend much more time with my personal work. It was also made during a period when I worked a lot with creating music – not just listening but creating myself – and I discovered a lot of interesting bands during that time which most certainly inspired my drawings.
What’s evolved in your work since you first made these images?
I think I have started to work with more detail and I can clearly see that the line work has improved.
You’re clearly inspired by the natural world but what is it about organic life on other planets that particularly excites you?
The fact that we have no idea how it looks is interesting; it’s free to interpret. I often like to think of a place where no one has ever been, like a place out in some other world’s wilderness. You can be sure that it exists at this very moment while you read this.
Was there a definitive moment in your past when you realised that science fiction imagery was what you wanted to make?
No, it’s something that has come naturally. But of course being very interested in the literary genre and a long-time fan of many artists in the field has most certainly driven me more and more in this direction – I just feel a natural connection to it.
Does the real world seem bland after years spent creating your own fictional world?
Absolutely not, but it does feel great to be able take breaks from it.
Can you recommend some underrated sci-fi movies we should check out?
I recently did a soundtrack cover for a film called Phase IV, that one is great and I think not too well known. Also the film Quest, by the same director [Saul Bass], is really good. Another one is The Quiet Earth.
As for animation I would strongly recommend Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories which is three short films. I don’t know how underrated these actually are but I highly recommended them anyway – especially the first one.
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