Stina Persson’s illustrations are the ultimate eye candy! Her portraits, fashion illustration, and moody florals are rendered in lush swaths of saturated ink and watercolor. Treat yourself and scroll through her delicious Instagram feed for the short timelapse videos of her process… jealous yet? You’ve probably seen Stina’s work for iconic brands like Veuve Clicquot, Louis Vuitton, and Vogue Nippon but her style remains unmistakably her own. As someone who struggles to find a consistent illustration style I’m satisfied with, I’m always in awe of artists like Stina Persson whose work is its own signature. I’m thrilled to share Stina’s thoughts on her style, technique, and what it means to stay authentic to her craft.
Berry from Trial by Inspiration: Your work has such a distinctive (and gorgeous!) look, tell us more about finding and honing your style and finding your favorite tools.
Stina Persson @stina_persson_illustration: Liquid media seems to come easier to me. I think they also suit my way of capturing a gesture or atmosphere. I also love to combine watercolours and ink with cut pieces of paper, as I am terrified of the too soft or too cute.
TBI: I love your pieces that mix ink illustrations and cut paper! What inspires your composition and color palettes?
SP: With the composition, it is very playful. I have two boxes of paper cuttings, and I place different pieces of coloured paper on top of my drawing, it is so much fun, then I take photos and later see which one I like the most. I love color, on clothing, home interior or on paper.
TBI: In your work, are you more rewarded by your creative process or the end product?
SP: End product. I am slowly learning to appreciate my work process after showing clips of me working on Instagram. But I still work towards a final product.
TBI: Do you have any tips on how to get unstuck creatively?
SP: Oh, I get stuck all the time and feel insecure and useless. I wish I had a fun tip, like put on a wig, dance around and drink bubble tea- but my boring tip is to just keep drawing/painting. That is, in the end, the only thing that works for me. My teacher at Pratt once said “for every good drawing there are 50 bad ones”, which I try to keep in mind when nothing is working. Every flawed piece is one step closer to something nice.
TBI: I struggle to find my muse after I’ve been chasing my toddler around or trying to get through my never-ending to-do lists. How do you balance your personal time with your creative time?
SP: I think we all struggle with this. I have three boys, 15, 13 and 10 and love to spend lots of time with them and my husband. But having kids also made me more organized and structured. I get to work early when the kids go to school and the stay until 5:00 or 6:00. Every once in a while I stay in the city when the family goes to the countryside, and I work like my pre-kids years, which is lovely and amazing but also draining. I need to be able to do this at times though, especially when I have a big project or a show coming.
TBI: Your pieces are so bold and eye-catching, perfect for a platform like Instagram, has marketing your work come naturally to you or have you had to develop it? Is it challenging to remain authentic to your style on a platform that is driven by “likes” and “followers”?
SP: I think working as a commercial illustrator you get used to showing your work and adapt it to various clients and projects. I don’t mind posting my work on Instagram but I have to admit that the likes and the followers part gives me high school vibes that I wish I had left behind for good.
TBI: You’ve worked with some amazing clients! Do you have any advice for finding the right partnerships and projects?
SP: Work with a good agent. Be open about what you like and let people know you appreciate their products.
TBI: Have you ever had a client who wanted to change your aesthetic? How did you handle it?
SP: Oh yes! I have people showing me Leonardo da Vinci sketches wanting me to do something like that, real quick, just like his sketches…
It happened a lot more about ten years ago when budgets were huge and projects lingered on a lot longer. The process is faster now, and people want your style, but pay a bit less too. I prefer it like this though.
TBI: I’ve read that you’re inspired by digitally unaltered art, work where one can see the artist’s hand and imperfections. I’ve noticed more and more bloggers, Instagrammers and influencers re-thinking perfect and polished and aiming for more authenticity in what they present to their audience. Can you speak a little more about what unaltered art means to you?
SP: Unaltered means not digitally altered, or not botoxed or airbrushed. I like to see the paper, the marks of the maker.
Are you as inspired as I am by Stina Persson’s illustrations and thoughts on illustration, process, and art that’s not “botoxed”? You can find more of her work on her website https://www.stinapersson.com/ and Instagram @stina_persson_illustration
Illustrations and photos provided by Stina Persson