1. Linnea, tell us about your upbringing. Where were you born ?
I was born in a small Swedish village called Grängesberg in 1983. My parents decided that they only wanted one child, and to be honest I never really missed having siblings. I always enjoyed my alone time and spent most of it drawing or painting. My father was self employed and traveled all over the world, I didn’t see him much during the first, say 15 years of my life. My mom on the other hand got sick of working at a regular office so she decided to stay at home and take care of me. I think both of them have influenced me greatly to who I am today.
" I’m a mix of my dad’s free spirit, wanting to be his own boss and who loves to travel and see the world. And my mother who also enjoys her freedom and to just spend time at home, appreciating the little things in life. "
Neither of them felt like they fit in the ”normal” role that society had to offer so they always tried to do things their way. And I turned out just like that; I have a hard time feeling that I fit in anywhere.
2. When did you start showing an interest in painting and when did the idea occur to you that you could pursue art as a career ?
I fell in love with making art at the age of two when I started drawing with crayons. Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say that I wanted to be an artist. However, as a kid I didn’t know exactly what it actually mean't be an artist - the economic struggle and all the work surrounding it that’s not even related to the act of painting itself. I attended two art schools here in Sweden that are on a ”basic” level that you pretty much need to go to in order to even be able to apply to an art college. I never really felt that I fit in there either, probably because I have an issue with authority and didn’t like it when teachers told me what to do. So I spent those years messing around a lot, and didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know. I wasn’t paying attention to the classes we had, I just wanted to be left alone in my studio to create whatever I wanted. So when the time came and I was ready to apply to the art colleges, I didn’t get in and of course, this was a huge blow to my ego! So I started to think, maybe I shouldn’t be an artist after all? I decided to study languages at University for a couple of years, thinking that I could become a translator. But I felt deeply unhappy not having the time or energy to make art. So I dropped out and decided to pursue art full time. And I’ve never regretted this decision.
3. How did you come to exploring human emotion and the tedious details in an everyday routine? Is there any particular reason why water seems to play such a significant part in your hyper realistic images ?
I think most artists create work that mirrors their inner life in one way or another. My work is autobiographical.
" I started painting myself submerged in water 8 years ago, and I did it because I felt that it would reflect pretty well how it is to be an artist. I feel that when humans take a shower or a bath, we are truly exposed and as vulnerable as we can be. "
It is also a place where we take a moment to reflect after a long day while we enjoy this extreme privilege of actually having running water in our houses. As an artist, you expose yourself via your art to anyone who is willing to take a moment and look. You put yourself out there and you become very vulnerable. Criticism may come from anyone at any time and it may not always be easy to tackle since you probably poured your heart and soul into this piece of art. You’re also depending on others to like your art enough to actually pay for it, just so that you can pay for rent and buy new art supplies etc. So that’s basically how my thoughts regarding this subjects first materialized. And I also thought it would be a fun challenge to paint.
4. Hyperrealism certainly has made a come back over the last couple of years. What would you attribute this to? Where do you see the position of Hyperrealism in the art world in the next 5 years? 10 years ?
It definitely has! I remember 5-10 years ago it was still very much frowned upon by the elite.
" For a long time now art has been all about putting dead animals in fish tanks and claiming it was ”deep and important”. I see a trend where the craft is becoming more important again, and that gives me lots of happiness, since I’m very passionate about the work itself. I think people just got sick of this strange type of art that no one was smart enough to understand. "
People are starting to appreciate the actual work behind a piece of work again. That being said, I feel that some of the photorealist and hyperrealist artists out there have an insane amount of skill and talent but sometimes lacks in terms of content. I am not saying that it’s bad art, but there should definitely be a way to combine the two. This is what I think we will see in 10 years; amazing, beautifully rendered paintings that also has an interesting story to tell, that will be more of a commonly appreciated art form. And I’m not even sure if I would define myself as a hyperrealist. I think I feel trapped when people try to put a label on me, haha. But yes, there was a time when I was striving towards it but I have realized that I’m not that interested in painting people’s pores and peach fuzz. But who knows, this might change over time. Being an artist is all about growing and discovering new things about yourself, and the world too for that matter!
5. What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you surprised by the reactions that you get ?
Sometimes I get surprised when people say that my work looks creepy and suicidal. Or erotic!
" To me, my paintings are about humans fighting their inner demons. It can be me, you, your neighbor and her sister. It’s not easy being alive and we go through intense feelings of loss, grief, anger and disappointment. But also of hope and joy. "
Experiences we go through can make us or break us. I think it’s just fine to have whatever emotion and reaction when you look at my work, there’s no right or wrong. Art is so subjective, like most things in life. I guess the only thing you should fear as an artist is if your work is perceived with complete indifference. Like with a huge yawn. But obviously you can’t appeal to everyone. And that’s ok too. Art shouldn’t be about pleasing someone else (with an exception when it come to commissions), it should be about creating things that are meaningful to you!
6. What has been the high point of your career so far ?
Oh that’s a difficult question to answer. 12 years ago, I would dream about getting into cool magazines like Juxtapoz, and showing my art in other countries. Since then, I’ve been in a book about Hyperrealism published by Juxtapoz and have been in a special Juxtapoz curated group show. I’m represented by The Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles and show my art all over the world regularly with artists whose work I’ve been a fan of for a long time. A lot of really great things have happened. It’s pretty crazy and I feel extremely lucky. But it’s weird because it all soon becomes something ”normal”, even the things you once thought would never happen to you in a million years. I do like to live in the present however, there’s no point in looking back too much. I think every time a new person stumbles upon my work and feels a connection to it, is a high point for me. (without sounding too pretentious. haha).
7. How essential is social media to the practice of your artistic career ?
These days, it’s a very handy tool for sure. I get a lot of commissions when I post art online and I am forever grateful for that. It is a great way to get your work out there and the reach you get is pretty mind-blowing.
" But since there is just SO MUCH art out there, the risk of it just drowning in the constant social media noise is rather big too. So you have to work extra hard to stay on top of your game. "
Be a better artist than you’ve ever been, every single day.
8. What are your artistic goals ?
My goals are always just to keep painting until my days here are over. That’s the only thing I’ve ever asked for. When I took the leap towards being an artist full-time, I had enough money in the bank to be able to live without an income for a year. So that is my artistic goal every year really. Even with all the uncertainty, it’s the most perfect life. And the galleries, the museums, the publications and the fame and fortune may not come from that but if it does, it is just a bonus.