Stina Persson's stunning illustrations have appeared in magazines worldwide and major ad campaigns for Absolut Vodka, Nike, Godiva Chocolatier, Atlantic Records, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, UNIQLO, American Eagle Outfitters, Volvo Japan, Franco Sarto Shoes, 2K T-shirts, Bjorn Borg Clothing, and DKNY.
I have been a long-time fan of Stina Persson's gorgeous illustrations, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to interview Stina. Many thanks to CWC International for helping to arrange it! I'm going to mention it now, but I'll be writing about it again soon--mark your calendars--November 30th is the debut opening in NYC of gallery hanahou. Thirty of CWC's artists (including Stina) will be offering one-offs and very limited editions just in time for the holidays.
For those of you familiar with Stina's work but not her story, Stina has lived, studied and worked in Tokyo, New York, Florence and Lund, Sweden, where she was born. Stina now lives and works in Stockholm with her husband and sons Astor and Edgar. She says her illustration style is basically about "finding the right balance between the edgy and the elegant the raw and the beautiful." To achieve this, she uses ink, watercolor and gouache, as well as Mexican cut paper.
Recent projects include the poster for the musical Billy Elliott, the cover of Flaunt Magazine and a summer campaign for Absolut. She is featured in Laird Borelli's new book "Fashion Illustration Next", Pao & Paw's "Clin D'Oiel" as well as the Italian book "Fashionize" by Delicatessen.
mj: What is your favorite project that you've designed so far?
stina: Doing a series of Sicilian girls for the Anita Mrusek's magazine Squint. Commercially it must be a job I just did for a credit card company. They wanted me to do an Rorschach styled ink blot. That was the easiest job in my career.
mj: You have such an identifiable style; when did it solidify or has this always been the way that you draw/paint?
stina: I think it's always looked like this, but has of course matured over the years and that's what I hope it will continue to do. I think doing less commercial work and painting large will be a possible next step, to take my work to a new level. We'll see.
mj: Do you have new projects that you're working on? I saw there is a Products section on your site, what sort of things will you be selling?
stina: I would love to create everything from bags to T-shirts and pillow cases, but having two small children doesn't really let me. Just yet. But for CWC-International's Hanahou Gallery I will be creating some personal gifts. That will be fun. Also I'd like to spend a spring in Sicily, continuing the project started with Squint. That's a dream!
mj: How would you describe your own style (fashion as well as art)?
stina: I strive for beauty but I want it to have an edge, and not be too easy or slick. And I want my portraits to have eyes that say something but mouths that don't. And no smiles... Smiles are lovely as long as they're real. But portrayed they for some reason become tacky.
Here are some THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT STINA PERSSON:
A) THE FOUR MOST STYLISH PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCED ME:
1. Tippi Hendren and other Hitchcock muses, we must have the same taste me and old Alfred.
2. Claudio Concato, one of my best friends and an amazing fashion consultant.
3. Sara Singh, a friend a fellow illustrator who is stylish even when covered in ink.
4. Magda, my childhood friend who always dressed better than anyone else, and still has an amazing eye for style.
B) FOUR WAYS THAT STYLE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
1. It makes it prettier.
2. Lack of it makes great gossip.
3. Imagine how scary it would be with more Trumps and Beckhams!!
4. It doesn't have a price tag. You could have it even if you're poor and most likely not have it if you're filthy rich. At least there's some justice in the world!
C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS
1. Elsa Schiaparelli, she's such an icon.
2. Miu Miu, because it's almost like vintage
3. H&M, without whom I'd go naked.
4. Cacharel for their prints. And also for their 70s clothes that one can find in thrift stores for a buck or two.
D) FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE:
2. Ice cream vendor
3. Hotel Maid
E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER (AND DO):
1. Anything by Hitchcock
2. Any Swedish movie from the 40s or 50s
3. In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai
4. Auntie Mame!
F) FOUR PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED:
4. New York
G) FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH:
1. I don't watch TV
H) FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
2. New York
3. Poros, an island outside of Athens
4. Southern Italy
I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):
1. BBC World
2. My gym, looking at their schedule.
3. My bank. (How boring, right?)
J) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS:
1. Italian Cucina Povera ("poor man's food").
2. Japanese, unless it's florescent pink or alive.
4. Indian food the way my husband makes it.
K) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
1. Some place warmer than Sweden.
2. In New York with my husband.
3. In Sicily with my little family.
4. In a soba or sushi restaurant in Tokyo