Interview with Herr Nilsson
When, how and why did you become an artist?
I was pretty young when I found out that I was good at expressing myself in drawings, most often much better than in spoken words. I spend a lot of time drawing and when I was about 21 years old I decided to aim for the goal of being a professional artist.
How do you see your role as an artist today?
To make people have a good laugh and start to think critical to norms at the same time. I want my art works to be like punches with a smile, hard and precise, but in a fun and good way. In contrast to all the visual commercials I like to do visual mind benders.
How would you describe your working method?
I’m almost constantly trying new ideas, sketching them in my mind until they are pretty much done, then I realize them in a painting or a sculpture. Most often I experiment with two strong symbolic things or characters that convey totally different messages. And then, when I put these two together in a painting or sculpture, the new meaning conveys something totally different. Something I would like to share with my audience.
Can you name some contemporary works of art or projects that inspire you?
Fat Porsche – Erwin Wurm
Pepsi Cola – Lana del Rey (Rick Nowels / Elizabeth Grant)
Piss Christ – Andres Serrano
Banksy – Napalm and Dismaland
Yoko Ono – Instruction paintings
Caravaggio – All of his paintings. I know he’s not contemporary but the story of his life is very fascinating and his painting skills were the best.
How can artists be paid for their work and at the same time maintain a critical attitude towards the commercial art market and public funding partners?
Most often you can say “fuck you” to people if you can laugh about it together. The collectors that buy my art, at least those that I have had the chance to talk to, are all persons that like critical thinking and satire. Provocative art is not for everybody but there are a lot of people out there that like it.
Sometimes you are lucky and get a win-win situation together with the client. For example my latest art work, the sculpture of Ariel is entirely constructed out of rubbish from Lake Mälaren. It was sold to a Swedish entrepreneur, Konrad Bergström, founder of a company, X Shore, which builds electrical boats. He has a strong interest in the environment and the waters in particular. All rubbish that the sculpture of Ariel is built from was retrieved by the non-profit organization Rena Mälaren that specializes in retrieving debris from the bottom of the lake. Konrad payed me a good amount of money for the sculpture and then I give back a major part of that income to Rena Mälaren to finance their ongoing work, and then I can finance constructing more sculptures and so on. I find this cycle being very good for all participants.
What would you like to change in the street art world?
More and more cities around the world are commissioning big murals at boring buildings and many artists can make their living on this. This is very good of course. But it is also a trend that these murals are almost always made to be decorative and nice to everybody, like the music on a big commercial radio station. Without any provocative or critical thinking concepts at all, this street art will be nothing more than generic. I would say that I wish that the clients could be a little bit braver when they commissioned these murals.
The good part is of course that all of us still can do street art works without permission and stay free in our creativity.