Introducing — Emil Öhlund

Introducing Karl Emil Öhlund — Painter and Artist from Sweden.

Total sucker for cartoons, video games, action figures and more. He joins us at Winterµte for an interview.

I was born in 1985 in a small town called Valdemarsvik on the east coast of Sweden, and I mean a really small town.
 So it was easy to become bored, so I started trying out music, mainly playing drums in a grindcore band. Later on, about 10 years ago now, I started making music on my computer instead, breakcore / hardcore stuff. 
 So my creative path began with music.
 But after a few years i felt like “only” making music wasn’t enough, I needed some other ways to express my feelings and ideas…
 So about 8 years ago, after coming home from Japan(were i lived for a while) i applied for art college in a town, Örebro, where I still live now.
 I got in 2009, and after about 2 weeks at the college I tried out painting, and been painting almost every day since.
 So since about 2012 I’ve been working professionally as a painter artist.

I’m inspired by anything, even though that might not be totally true. Escapism is mainly what inspires me; video games, anime/manga, toys, music and so on. These fantasy worlds where you can escape to, like gaining power to handle certain things in real life. I know there’s a certain risk with escapism, but I always tried to balance it well and not letting it swallow me totally. 
I also get inspiration from other artists(ofcourse) and their work, like Takashi Murakami, POSE, Katsuhiro Otomo and many more. My ideas comes to me whenever, mostly all the time my head is filled with them, sometimes maybe too many… But I try to sort them inside my head, and into concepts for a specific exhibition and so on…
 So yeah, basically there’s thousands of big & small ideas floating around inside my head 24/7, but it’s a pleasant curse you know. I would never want it the other way around.

I like this flat, almost mechanical perfection and feeling to the work.
 So I focus a lot on the finish of my work, to make it look as digital as I possibly can, even though its made with only brushes and acrylic colors.
 Since a few years back now I’ve managed to erase the brush strokes, to get a super flat surface. I want the spectator to think they’re looking at a digital screen (of course from a short distance anyway)… And they often do, haha… So I guess I got there finally.
 The last year or so Ive also started working a bit more digital, to be able to produce more work faster (maybe Ive taken on too many exhibitions to handle, first world problem I know), but now i finally feel pretty satisfied and comfortable with the result and that way of working too, but painting will always be my
 favorite medium. 
 Also, prints and digital works are easier to sell; because of big editions, faster to complete and not gigantic in size.
 I’m not using a Wacom board or anything, I ink every line on paper, then I scan all of it, coloring in PS. It can sometimes be a bit tedious, but totally worth it in the end.

What’s my top 5 all time science fictions stories? Oh, this is a hard one… Too many of them.
 Some of my all time favorites would be Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Thing (1982), Akira, Star Trek TNG and Tetsuo the Iron man.
 NGE and Akira were some of the first anime's I saw as a kid, so I keep them close to my heart, and also they contain Everything you want I think.
 They’re mind-blowing in so many ways, both artistically and story-wise. Yeah, and also the color composition on EVA-01, nothing beats that.
 The Thing (1982) is one of those movies I see a couple of times every year, I cant say anything bad about that one. It also contains one of my favourite kind of creatures, just a mish-mash of everything melting together, looking totally disgusting but oh-so gorgeous at the same time… Magic.
 Which has inspired me sometimes in the past making melty looking stuff.
 Star Trek is just the “cozy” one, when I was young I would love to go up every morning around 6–7 watching a episode on TV. It became kind of a ritual
 for many years, so i’ve probably seen it through a couple of times.
 Tetsuo the Iron man, well that one was a big moment in movie history for me… I remember watching it the first time, I had bought a Coke, sat down in the
 sofa and pressed play… Then 67 min later when the movie was over, i still sat with the coke in my hand, unopened(due to being too engaged in the movie).
 staring at the screen and were like “-Whaaat the fuck did I just watch?”… So that movie opened up such a big library of weird japanese flicks for me, which
 I still watch and collect today.

Maruosa Vs Shitwife on Omega Warfare Records.

Music-wise I mostly listen to Black Metal when I paint, which can seem a bit odd due to my work being very colorful and not so dark, motif-wise.
 So there’s a lot Mayhem, Mörk Gryning, Deathspell Omega, Marduk and more spinning every day in the studio for maybe 10 to 12 hours.
 Being a breakcore producer I would say music influences me in a great way, but I cant really explain or pin point it.

For the moment I have a lot going on, there’s 3 solo exhibitions this year alone, all happening this spring. And one of them being in Osaka, Japan makes everything even more hectic. 
 But I will make it in time for sure, I always do, (Laughs) Then there’s also a couple of group exhibitions happening in Stockholm, so you could say I’m a busy man.

More From Karl Emil Öhlund here or visit

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