The First Uprising: Jostein and the Invisible Paperclip


Today the spotlight rests on the visual art and blog of my friend Jostein, of Invisible Paperclip.

Violin Girl - an experiment on watercolor paper, combining inked lines and coffee as a coloring medium

Violin Girl – an experiment on watercolor paper, combining inked lines and coffee as a coloring medium

Introduction

My initial impression of Jostein’s style was that it was so simple and neat, and yet very elegant at the same time. I also like that, while Japanese animation clearly has had some influence, it is also not the full extent of his style. In fact, it’s difficult to pinpoint any singular influence — the mark of an artist who has come into his own. I think this is part of the reason why his subject matter can be so versatile.

Mustache - an autobio comic about growing a mustache

Mustache – an autobio comic about growing a mustache

But it’s not just the subject matter. Another thing I find interesting about Jostein’s art is that he doesn’t pigeon-hole himself in terms of medium. Invisible Paperclip includes everything from cartoons and caricatures to web banners, watercolors to pixel animations, sketches to published work. There are traditional works, computer-assisted works, and one-hundred percent digitally made works. Jostein shares cute slice-of-life comics, work/request art, and thoughtful reviews of other artists’ work. Lately, he does cartoons for newspapers and magazines in his homeland of Norway.

Pixelart friends - my girlfriend, some of my closest friends and myself as pixel characters

Pixelart friends – “my girlfriend, some of my closest friends and myself as pixel characters”

The Interview

How did you get into art?

I think it’s been an ongoing process since my childhood. I suppose some of the first things I did was to copy drawings from Donald Duck comics. As a teenager, I found inspiration to draw manga style characters by watching Japanese animation (Pokémon) and playing the Final Fantasy RPGs. Somewhere between junior high and high school, I discovered webcomics, and I’ve been an avid fan of the medium ever since.

In recent years, I’ve become more serious about learning to draw and how to utilize a variety of tools, both traditional and digital. I’m also trying to educate myself by reading books about comics and studying various drawing styles.

What artists have influenced you in the course of your career?

There are quite a few artists that I like and draw inspiration from. Two genres that I really love are journal comics and travelogue comics. Of the artists making awesome stuff in either one or both of these genres, I have to mention Lucy Knisley (French Milk, Relish), Yuko Ota (Johnny Wander) and Guy Delisle (Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City).

I’m also a big fan of Yotsuba&!, created by Kiyohiko Azuma. His high level art style and storytelling makes me wish that I could create something equally good. Not unrelated to manga, I also really like Mark Crilley’s work. He also does educational and entertaining how to draw-videos on YouTube, in addition to his own graphic novels.

What aspect of your work is the most fun, in your opinion? The most difficult?

Getting something right, like when drawing a pose or choosing a nice color palette for an image. Or simply getting the timing and flow right when drawing a comic. I also like getting “likes” and positive comments on my drawings on Facebook and Instagram. Not to mention positive feedback on my blog. That’s always a lot of fun and really rewarding.

To be brutally honest, I think the hardest thing is getting started. In a worst case scenario, I get stuck in a rut with low self esteem, judging my work in the worst possible way even though I haven’t even made a single pencil line. Luckily, I’m learning to snap out of it and just start creating. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get anything done.

Ultimately, do you see yourself making art your life, or would you consider an alternative career path?

At the time being, I make a decent living by doing freelance and part time work as a graphic designer. It’s a nice job where I get to be creative and use my experience in media production. But I would of course like to be able to work more on my own ideas and projects. I can also see myself doing more commissioned work, like illustrations and comics.

I’m very eager to learn new things and perhaps expand into other creative realms, like animation or photo- and videography. Sadly, time constraints forces me to focus on a limited number of “hobbies” at any given time. I guess time will show. In any case, I don’t plan to stop growing as an artist 🙂

Please share any work or snippet of a work you would like:

This is a guest comic I made for the webcomic Boumeries. I really like it because it tested my imagination and storytelling abilities. This particular strip also made it into print, in volume 3 of the Boumeries books. I’m pretty stoked about that, so I just wanted to use this chance to brag about it.

Guest comic for Boumeries (http://comics.boumerie.com/)

Guest comic for Boomers

Jostein is also responsible for this awesome image featuring the two main characters from my novel Ciphers. He really did capture them perfectly. >^_^< Thank you, Jostein, for the lovely illustration! And of course for being the first Upstart to join The Uprising!

Brid (long-boarding tomboy linguist) and Siph (fire-wielding half-alien grumpmeister)

Brid (long-boarding tomboy linguist) and Siph (fire-wielding half-alien grumpmeister)

The Grand Unveiling!


The Prologue

It has been a month and a half since my last post, mostly due to my grand adventures in  setting up my new apartment and getting used to my new job, which to be honest has taken a serious drain on my energy. I haven’t had to regularly wake up at 5am since high school, and to suddenly jump into that again 5 days a week hasn’t been the most fun part of my new life. Fortunately working morning hours adds a couple hundred yen to my lesson rates, and most days I can be home for a much-needed nap by 4:30. I also happen to enjoy my work and my environment. And let’s face it, being in Japan always makes life better. I still write mental love notes to this country almost every day.

Dear Japan, you are wonderful. Never let me have to leave you and stop eating nikuman.

Dear Japan, conbinis. ‘Nuff said.

The Plan

Anyway, now that I finally have a scrap of weekend, my plan today is to unveil a project that I’ve had on my mind for some time now. It’s intended to be a monthly installment celebrating not just writers, but up-and-coming artists of all mediums from all over the world. So painters, web comickers, photographers, children’s book writers/illustrators, and novelists are all in the line-up already, with others coming as I find them.

One of the most important things to an artist of any medium or genre, outside of their actual craft, is having a supportive network both in real life and online. And as I know quite a few artistic people with more than a modicum of skill, I figured why not brag about them? They get some press, my readers get the option of discovering fresh talent, and my blog gets more traffic than if I just ramble about myself all the time.

The basic idea is a showcase. Each participant receives their own post which includes a blurb from me, some excerpts of their work, and a brief interview. Enough to draw some outside attention, without giving everything away.

In the spirit of adventure (and by suggestion of some awesome Nanoers on Facebook), I’ve decided to title this new segment The Uprising.

The first installment will be along shortly, so stay tuned!

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