Pontus Arvåsen's illustrations are based around a fascination for animals, nature and our planet.

Pontus Arvåsen's illustrations are based around a fascination for animals, nature and our planet. Here you can see influences from Asian storytelling style, Greek frescoes as well as Scandinavian fairy tale illustrations.

This makes us of course want to find out more….

When did you start illustrating?

I've been in the creative field for all of my career. As a photographer and Industrial Designer but it wasn't until my thirties in my dream role as Lead Designer at Hasselblad that my drawing skills really developed and I started to see an artistic voice. I got so consumed by this that I quit cold turkey and took a year just sketching drawing painting thinking and further searching for that voice I had seen a glimpse of.

Today as an illustrator and artist I use many of the skills and sensibilities learnt from these two careers. Photography trained my vision and sense of composition. Product design got me thinking in 3D and also trained my ability to ideate and develop ideas visually with quick loose sketches.

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?

My wife is the one I turn to for honest and direct feedback. Her immediate reaction tells me if the illustration is filled with life or if it's just an image. She is encouraging but understandably she wasn't jumping with joy when I quit a solid corporate career with nothing but a gut feeling.

To be honest the biggest fan throughout has been me :) Not that I thought everything I did was good but I could feel some inner potential of what could be. The problem was that for a long time I was naive about it and believed somehow it would magically turn into skill just by thinking about it.

One memory that has stayed with me is from Industrial Design school were I had many class mates who were natural talents drawing accurate lifelike drawings of just about anything. One day the professor held a sketch of mine in front of the class and said that I had the confident yet loose line work you should all strive for. This short moment of acknowledgement has stayed with me as a reminder that ok I might not be the artist I'm aiming for yet but there's a core to build on.

Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?

Yes I've always imagined some kind of art career and been convinced that it will eventually happen. For a long time I thought a profession where you use your artistic sensibility was enough. But then is stood clear that I needed to go deeper into the art itself.

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

I get inspired by animals and I love to use them in my illustrations. I look at the real life animal anatomy fo reference but then I make my own interpretation of it. I also take a lot of inspiration from our pet animals. For example my foxes and tigers all move in the way our Rohedesian Ridgeback Doris does. And the poses are very much hers.

How would you describe your style?

I have a whimsical fantasy style revolving around animals, nature and our planet. You can see asian influences as well as Scandinavian fairy tales and Greek Fresco paintings. I want my art to have a narrative feel giving the viewer a sense that something happened just before or will happen just after the image.

Composition plays a big role in my work and I often do 20-30 thumbnail sketches where I block out the basic composition. This is similar to the way I approach designing physical products where I will spend a lot of time initially to find the main volumes and will not take it further until the overall balance is just right.

I like a sense of surrealism in my work. But not just for the sake of it. I want it to be a reminder that we don't know everything and that there might be important things in the universe that we are missing.

I believe the world would be a better place if we could keep some of the open mindset which we are born with. I want to reach the inner being of the viewer and tickle the imagination, if just for a second to make sure the door stays open.

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

I recently did a series of illustrations with an accompanying colouring book that are used at a children's hospital in Sweden. It's a long term facility where the children can take the framed art work and decorate their room and then also make their own versions of it in the colouring book. The idea that my art could help make their stay at the hospital a bit more enjoyable makes me smile.

What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?

The overall tone of the Illo agency really appeals to me. It’s clear concise to the point without loosing heart and soul. That's not easy to achieve but just the place I would like to be part of!

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

I always get slightly stressed out when getting this question. I'm very inspired by books films and all kind of design but I have a hard time naming names .I don't have one that I follow or like everything he/she does.

I'm drawn to books with universal themes. Right now I'm reading “The Lonely City” by Olivia Laing and “The art of hearing heartbeats” by Jan-Philipp Sendker. I also have a book with poetry by Tomas Tranströmer on my bedside table which is great when I just want to read a few pages before sleeping.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

I have a book/graphic novel which I've been working on for a while. It's kind of a collective consciousness story. Things that we miss and that would be seen as paranormal or supernatural but is obvious and appear normal once you've seen it.

It's been a quite slow and organic progress with scattered drawings, sketches and notes on post its, on the iPad in sketch books etc. Now I feel it could be time to start making a more focused approach to it and begin tightening the story.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

I love listening to podcast but it goes in waves. Meaning that I might listen 8 hours a day for two weeks and then I get fed up and need to listen to only music for a week before getting back to podcast. At the core of my library are all kinds of artist and designer interviews they are always interesting.

For example “John Dalton Gently Does It” who talks to Fine Artists, “3 Point perspective” about the work life as an illustrator, “Make it then Tell everybody” more towards cartoons, “Creative Peptalk” general creative and business inspiration that always manage to gets you going.

When I need a break from art and design talk I go to “Autonomous Cars” , “Tech meme Ride Home” or Freakonomics Radio”.

I hope you've enjoyed reaading this article. 
If you have a project in mind for Pontus, please contact his agent: [email protected]
at illo agency we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.