Mr. Martin Nicolausson

THE STOCKHOLM-BORN ILLUSTRATOR, Martin Nicolausson lived in London for two years before returning to his hometown “which is a lot more organised, bordering on tidy… and lately finding its own voice”. His delightful and playful illustrations have enabled him to work with high profile clients which span from editorial work to shop frontages and fashion galas. And more recently, our newest issue of LOBBY

Tell us about your beautiful design for the cover of LOBBY, ‘1961’. How did you start making it?

I worked together with LOBBY’s art director Moa Pårup on various ideas for the cover and we wanted to do something to reflect the issue’s theme of looking back at 1961, not as an encyclopaedia of fun facts but as a mirror to the present. We settled on the idea of using a mask that is reversible both by turning the magazine upside down and by flipping it over, allowing the viewer to look either through the mask or at it. It gives the impression of being able to look at the present through the eyes of the past and vice versa.

On first glance, your work to me is very surrealist with a hint of cubism. Would you say that these are genres you’re influenced by?

Sure. I would say I’m hugely influenced by surrealism. I remember being affected by it very early in life, growing up going through my parents record collection containing covers by Hipgnosis et al, visiting museums looking at work by Magritte and Dalí. It has stuck with me since.

Your portfolio extends from set design to branding and magazine covers. What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working with?

I’d really like to do more large-scale work that can be experienced not while sitting down but by walking around. I’ve not done a lot of those projects so far, but I got to do the windows for a new Generator Hostels location here in Stockholm last year while the building was being refurbished. The illustration went around the whole facade so you really had to move around to see it all. 

Last year I also did backdrops for a fashion gala hosted by Swedish high-end department store NK. In terms of measurements that was probably the biggest work I’ve ever produced, which brought on challenges, but I really enjoyed that. 

Tell us about your design process and the narrative behind it? 

My process is usually quite impromptu, I will start working and keep changing things until I’ve ended up with something good. That probably reflects my personality, I’m not a great planner. I use the computer for sketches, ideas, everything. I scan my textures but that’s basically the extent to which I use pens and papers.

I’d love to take my work into the third dimension but I’m not sure how to approach it as of yet. My work is very digital so perhaps it would have to involve going back to using my hands more, something I’ve been missing. 

You mentioned your parents' record collection earlier, is music a big part of your life? Anything interesting you’ve listened to recently?

I constantly listen to music, especially while working, cycling to work or doing the dishes. I listen to a lot of ambient things right now, Steve Reich’s ‘Music for 18 Musicians’ is my go-to album for working, but also newer stuff like Visible Cloaks’ ‘Reassamblage’ which I really enjoyed.

What most sparks your imagination right now?

Talking to my 4 year-old :)

– Images courtesy of Martin Nicolausson. To see more of his work, click here.