Interview: Sylvia Stølan

1. Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.

My name is Sylvia Stølan. I’m working as an artist and illustrator. I studied Visual communication and illustration at the art academy in Utrecht, The Netherlands. That’s where I met my boyfriend, Ashkan Honarvar, fellow weird collage artist. After our studies we lived a couple of years in The Netherlands, working as a freelance illustrator and designer and enjoying biking around and the creative environment. Last year I moved back north to Norway, where I’m busy getting new clients, walking trough the woods and accumulating inspiration.

2. Recent, current or future projects you are involved in that you would like to share with us?

I recently got my new website online (it’s worth a visit 🙂 ) and working on a very exiting project featuring “alice-in-wonderland-like collage’s” for a shopping centre. And also, of course getting the weirdness up to Norway!

3. What kind of things influences your work?

I love the unknown and strange. I can look for colour combinations and patterns in the traditional clothing or in the latest fashion. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small city in the north of Norway, that I’ve always had cravings for stuff that’s got an exotic feel to it, animals, plant life, people and culture.

4. How is your normal process of collaging? (idea or commission, where do you get your materials or find your images, which is your cutting technique, best way you have found to paste, where do you work and how, and very important: what do you do with your scraps)

My library of old dusty books is always growing and my drawers filled with scraps. I love second hand markets and bookstores, but try to restrict myself to use the material I already have accumulated before gathering new, unless I can’t help myself and feel it is really necessary. It also depends on if I’m working in an assignment or personal work. For my own personal work I try to restrict myself to not using the computer that much, but I do love the scanner and the possibilities it gives by enhancing images and discovering structures that otherwise would be impossible to see with the naked eye. Most of my scraps I save. It try to organize them in plastic folders, but they sometimes just end up getting shoved into a drawer or if I’m really tired of them, into the trash bin.

5. Which is your latest discovery in the collage world? What advice can you give to a collage beginner?

There are so many collage artists/designers! I’m really amazed how many there are and how different their work can be. That shows that even though re-using images you really can create something new and very personal.

I love the work of Becha, and how she combines collage elements in fashion shoots. I also get very inspired by artist as Madame Peripetie, Simen Johan and Seydou Keita. Even though all are photographers their work really has something collage-like.

For the beginners: Make a lot! Nothing comes without sweat and tears  Experiment a lot! But don’t put everything on your website. Your portfolio should contain your strongest images. A blogg or portfoliosite (like flickr or behance ) on the other hand can be handy as a personal place to play around, put up a lot of your work, and to organize your work and see your own development. Let yourself get inspired but stay true to yourself and keep you own style unique!

6. What do say your friends/family about your collage work? And, what do you do when you are not working on art?

They are very supportive! When not working I try to remove myself from sitting too much behind a computer-screen and give my eyes a bit of rest by spending time out in the garden, taking walks, or trying out new food recipes. I love seeing things grow, and have really set my mind on growing my own vegetables this year, which I’m quite curious to see if I’ll manage with the unpredictable climate we have up here in the north.

7. Would you like to ask anything to John Baldessari? Shoot.

What do you do in your spare time?

8. What for did you get into this WEIRD stuff?

It is great to have a community that supports and sees the value of collage. They are maybe weird but they are all professionals and their work is really inspiring! A lot of credits to their new website as well, which has a lot of inspiring interviews and works on it!