Into The Magical Wild With Malin Gyllensvaan
If you think that a world inhabited by singing birds, enchanting plants and colourful patterns is too good to be true, you might love diving into Malin Gyllensvaan’s wild fairytale. Underneath the lush and ethereal illustrations lies the Stockholm-based illustrator’s ever-growing love for all the living things on earth — and gouache! Malin brings herself (and us!) closer to nature whenever she works her magic on fabrics, puzzles and a wide array of paper goods. Here, she shows us her painting process step by step and shares 3 essentials that get her creative ideas blooming.
AWW: What do you want to explore and bring to people through your work?
Malin Gyllensvaan: I want to give people a break! To get a moment of joy through colours and the magic of nature from my perspective. I also want to encourage and inspire people to start creating themselves. You can find parts of yourself while you paint and slowly piece them together and find out what resonates with your soul.
AWW: How did you find your passion for illustration and develop your current style?
Malin: Drawing has been a part of my life as far as I can remember. I have a degree in Textile Design so creating patterns is still a big part of my practice. I was always an illustrative textile designer and now I see myself as a decorative illustrator — to me that is pretty much the same thing.
Painting came much later and I didn't really start using gouache as I do now until maybe 10 years ago. I fell in love with it almost immediately and I have not looked back since. Also, the desire to paint nature has always been with me. I never seem to stop getting inspired by flowers, plants and animals. I guess a lot of us long for a deeper connection with nature.
AWW: Can you walk us through your creative process?
Malin: It starts either from a brief from a client and licence work from my agent or from my own initiative. Depending on what I’m working on, I collect inspiration and reference images from Pinterest, books or the internet, etc. I sketch little thumbnails of my ideas based on those images. After I decide which one I like, I sketch it onto a bigger piece of nice paper. Then I start painting one colour group. I often start with the greens or blues since they tend to dominate. And then I move on to the other colours, and paint all the pinks at the same time. I might also leave out some shapes to fill in with a pencil. I really like the grey of the graphite to balance out some of my stronger colours.
When I am done painting all the details, I will scan the image at a high resolution, like with a minimum size of 600 dpi. After that I will remove the background in Photoshop and play around with the background colour and maybe add a texture to it.
AWW: How do you stay motivated?
Malin: I don’t all the time! And when I don’t I probably sit down at my desk and start working anyway… and it will come back. Or if I am really fed up, I go for a walk or call a friend. But most of the time I just show up for normal working hours and maybe flick through books or scroll through Pinterest until I see something and get the feeling of "Oh I wish I would have created this!" That usually gets me working.
AWW: Can you show us your studio or work desk? What are the 3 things that have inspired you most?
Malin: I love this old piano shawl from the 1920’s that I bought in L.A. about 15 years ago. It is so in line with both my painting style and colours. Creating with other materials inspires me as well, such as this little paintbrush holder I carved in green wood and painted with Acryla Gouache. And of course lastly, my favourite painting materials!
To find out more about Malin Gyllensvaan, please visit the artist’s IG account | @malingyllensvaan
All images provided by Malin Gyllensvaan.