Malin Gyllensvaan lives and works in Stockholm as a textile designer and illustrator.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the Swedish countryside close to water and the woods. On my fifth birthday I got my first pony, she was called Bonnie and she was a little stubborn rascal. We did have a lot of fun together though! We were surrounded by a lot of different animals and if I was not feeding a little lamb I was probably carrying around a chicken or a kitten.
How did you become interested in art?
I honestly can’t tell, it has always been there. My heart jumps a little when I see something I find beautiful. And with drawing and painting I have always had the feeling of ”I wish I had created that”. That is probably what keeps me going.
At what point of your life did you realize you were going to have a career in art and make a living out of it?
That I was going to try to have a career in art I decided when I was 9 years old. I am not sure I even told anyone about it until later, because it made me so incredibly nervous that maybe I couldn’t make a living out of it. I understood that it was hard and without the Internet it was even difficult to understand the jobs you could have and how to go about getting an education. I am still afraid sometimes that I will not be able to continue, after 19 years!
Who/What inspires you?
I am so inspired by nature it’s not a very unique answer. But nature keeps me sane and recharges my batteries. I live in a flat in an old house in central Stockholm nowadays but luckily we are never far from nature here and the water is only 5 minutes away. I also love old vintage embroideries, tapestries and vintage botanical studies etc.
You work with patterns, which are mainly associated with its application to surfaces, textiles and objects, can you tell us how patterns are different from other form of illustrations for you?
I have a degree in Textile design and I guess that patterns are maybe my strongest skill, I love piecing together paintings into complicated repeats. It is such a big difference to work on a pattern that someone is going to wear or have in his or her home, to an illustration in a book or on a card. You have to be able to imagine your work and see how it would look on that particular object. I love having those different challenges.
How is your work routine?
I love to start quite early in the morning with a walk if possible and then I work until 4.00 pm with lots of tea breaks in between. I find it very hard to break my ”flow” with going outside for a walk or errands etc. during the day. I just keep my head down, because I know that at 16.30 my kids come home and then the workday is for sure finished. Until they go to bed that is, if I have deadlines I will work in the evening too.
How is your workspace like?
Since I had my second child I work from home, I really enjoy the quiet alone time while working nowadays. Maybe because the other times are not that quiet. I have a big desk just by a window with lot’s of plants and books.
What are you reading?
I listen to books and podcasts while I work and I just finished listening to "Educated” by Tara Westover.
What would you say to artists in the beginning of their careers who want to work with applied illustration for brands?
When you feel like you have a strong portfolio you should start reaching out to companies and I guess working on your social media will not hurt. I did it differently since I was employed by different companies for 12 years before I went into full-time freelancing. I already had contacts to start me off. And I feel that it is all so different now, difficult to give the right advice. Follow your heart is a cliché, but is still an important point!
Your work is focus mainly on nature, tell us about this.
Nature is such never-ending inspiration to me, I think it’s because it’s so magical and full of wonder.
Folk bunny by Malin Gyllensvaan. Size: LARGE 12 x 16 inches (30,3 x 40,5 cm.) Giclée print of an original in pencil and gouache.
Do you have pets?
No I have not had any pets as a grown up. But when I am older and have more time to spend with one, I will get a small black Weiner dog.
Who is your favorite pattern artist?
I will always love William Morris and all kinds of vintage and folk textiles.
What are your projects for the future?
I am currently working on a Scandinavian Christmas book.
To see more of Malin's gorgeous work click here
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