INTERVIEW Breaking the stereotype: a different portrait of the Superhero, by Andreas Englund
Who doesn’t love superheroes? With all their awesome powers and crazy attitude, we wonder if they could really have a normal life, too, as we imagine after every movie or story about them. Well, Swedish painter Andreas Englund surpasses all our expectations by bringing to life a badass in his 60s, tired or bored , witty and clumsy, facing day-to-day challenges and normal casualities with a modern detachement. With all his magic moments and funny situations he’s been through all his life, he is no Superman. On a closer view, we’d see bits of ourselves in Andreas’s realistic and surprisingly humorous paintings depicting this anonymous superhero.
About Andreas Englund’s background: from art director to full-time fine artist
Well, I’m from a small city in the middle of Sweden called Falun, 250 km NE of Stockholm. I’d say my family is a typical Swedish family of four. I was born with the talent of drawing and I got the gift from my father who is an architect. When I was a kid I used to sit in my father’s lap while he drew all kinds of motifs like cars, animals and just funny crazy figures. I loved it and I loved to paint pictures that had a story. Back then I never thought that I would become an artist. Instead I thought I would become an industrial designer so my studies were mostly theoretical. However I’ve always wanted to share my thoughts with others, either through conversation or visual media. I’ve studied Art Direction in Stockholm and then started working as an art director. It became a natural choice for me at first. From there I built my foundation as an Artist. It has always been two careers living in symbiosis for me, with the common theme of storytelling and communication. I never thought I would become a painter. Therefore, I never studied art full time. I took some courses, but I feel I’ve learned more by watching art from the old masters, reading a lot, and of course, painting a lot. My studies have mainly been focusing on how to create good ideas because for me, the idea is what drives me. Meanwhile, I quit my job as an art director last spring to be a full-time fine artist. And I also have a beautiful family with two kids, a three year old daughter and a 8 months old baby, so no spare time!
About the costume of his Superhero: a badass between Superman and Phantom
When I made my first superhero painting I thought a lot about what his costume would look like, since it’s the trademark and holds a lot of that person’s personality. I also wanted to tell his story in a past time when society in general was more traditional, therefore making his character stand out more, like some kind of a rock star (mentally). This is what made me go for an old school/classic look.
I also wanted to paint in colors similar to an old magazine from the 60s. I wanted to make him feel familiar, like you have seen him before, but on the other hand it was important to be a unique character with his own back story. I chose to do a mix between Superman and the Phantom with his mask but without goggles to feel his expressions better by not covering his eyes. The suit is more cyan blue and his trunks more orange than red. When it finally came to the logo, I had some problems at first. I could not tell his name so it was really important that the symbol could stand on its own. It was important that the character saw himself as, or rather wanted to show others what a cool “bad ass” character he was. The skull to me was the strongest symbol, saying ”I’m a badass and you’ll better watch out!”. Also, everyone knows the impact the symbol had on the pirate’s flag, to scare the shit out of people when they came on their ships. Punisher’s big skull logo looks really cool and I was inspired by it. Mine is smaller without a nose and have more ”teeth” but I guess most skull logos tend to look similar. Most people go ”Oh look! Superman!” when they see my paintings.
What he loves most about human nature
I love when people take one step out of the ordinary. Being funny, nerdy or just different. Saying and doing things that is not expected. When people are true to themselves and follow their inner voice. Not caring what other people think or say. I’m not saying that you have to start a revolution. Just try not to listen to what other media and the general opinion say you should do. I don’t think I have any special features out of the ordinary. Maybe that is why I enjoy people who have them.
Who is this Superhero, in real life?
I’d say he shares a lot of me and maybe I would be a lot like him if I turned out to be a Superhero one day… Some things are a bit exaggerated but the essence of me is always present.
About great artists with a sense of humor and humor in painting
I think I am a humorous person. I like to joke about things and make people laugh. Not that I tell funny stories but I like to make funny observations. Like any genre, there is humor I love and humor I hate. I like when humor is in the situation and I hate when it’s too obvious and overplayed. Banksy has a lot of humor and a Swedish Jesper Waldersten has a lot of humor in his paintings. Also David LaChapelle sometimes use humor that I like. When executed correctly, humor can really make a statement or a comment so much stronger and still being very serious about the subject. Humor adds a lot of energy and one has to know exactly how to deal with it to make it work.
About Andreas’s favorite heroes
When I was a kid there was a bear called Bamse – the strongest bear in the world but also the kindest bear. He, like Popeye eats spinach, eats honey and become superstrong. He was my first hero. Then came Superman and Spiderman. Later I discovered Simon Bisley and his characters. Lobo is an anti hero that I love. When it comes to movies I like Ironman as a character and the movie Kickass and especially his partner – ”Hit Girl” and also the villain ”The Motherfucker”.
If Andreas is, in fact, an undercover superhero
Since it might put lives in danger I’ll have to say ”No comment” on that one.
How it is to be an art director in Sweden
I’d say it’s pretty nice. You get a lot of freedom and at the same time responsibility. You can really make a difference if you like. You are also much more involved in client meetings and therefore add a lot of your input directly which also affects the outcome. In Sweden the hierarchy is quite flat.
Truth: are there any superheroes in our world?
There was this Swedish guy Göran Kropp who rode his bicycle from Sweden to Mount Everest. Climbed it alone without oxygen mask and rode his bike home to Sweden. No comment.
An inspiration playlist:Christian Falk, Robyn – Dream on Frank Ocean – Thinkin bout you The Sounds – No one sleeps when I’m awakeSantigold – Disparate YouthAlicia Keyes – Try sleeping with a broken heartBeyonce – Countdown (love the video)Titiyo – Longing for Lullabies
You can find more about Andreas Englund and his work here: http://andreasenglund.com