Creative Contributor: Kristin Lidström

Artist Kristin Lidström
A little about Kristin:
Kristin Lidström is a freelancing illustrator and book designer. She lives in Sweden and most of her clients are in Sweden as well. Kristin has been working in illustration and book design for almost 10 years and hopes to continue making art as a living for the rest of her life.

What got you interested in art? How did you get started?

Actually, I think I’m more into storytelling than art on its own. The relationship between words and pictures is what I find most interesting during the creative process. That doesn't just mean still pictures, even though that’s what I usually work with. My world of inspiration also includes both motion pictures and theater plays. I can’t really remember how it all started, but as a child, drawing pictures by hand was something I felt I could handle compared to other activities. I think what caught my attention was that moment of sitting in front of the desk and capturing the world on paper with just pencils. 

What is your favorite medium to create in?

I’ve always preferred pencils and pens over brushes. There’s something about the dry mediums that I’ve liked more than the fluid ones. I’m more in control of the result with the dry ones. Watercolor has never been a favorite at all, but I’ve come to like it professionally. I also like it when I can mix and blend mediums in a nontraditional way. Especially since digital illustration provides layer techniques that give me more control, even when I want to be spontaneous.

What is one of your favorite projects that you've done?

In 2018, I got the opportunity to do portraits and cover designs for a series of paperbacks celebrating the fourteen women who had won the Nobel Prize in Literature up until that point. That was also the year when no prize was handed out because of a jury scandal. Eight Swedish publishers collaborated and republished one book from each of the women. That was a very joyful and spectacular working process and I’m still proud of the result. 

What do you love most about what you do?

Creating visual scenes for readers! An editorial illustration can emphasize a text immediately and images in picture books help create a connection with the reader. Images can also give more depth to the story outside of the text. That’s what I love about pictures! I often need the text to create illustrations, but then the pictures share something more than words can express. 

What's something hard about what you do?

Getting properly paid for the work I do! While collaborating with other people, communication sometimes makes the work a bit harder. But most of the time I make it harder on myself when I don’t plan enough time to make an illustration the way I know I want to do it. Then unfortunately the lack of time or deadlines hinders the effort and the work needs to be delivered no matter what.  

What is your dream project or collaboration?

For the time being, I just want to keep working with picture books! That’s the most fun work I can think of and I want to continue with the great collaborations I’ve had so far. I don’t think other commissions can really top those working processes, even though portraits always top my list of favorite projects!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh, I wanted to be a pastrycook since it seemed so fun to create all kinds of sweets and cakes in different shapes and colors. I got pretty close anyway!

Progress Shot by Kristen Lidström

Talk us through your process for creating the cover for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg issue.

Since I got such a clear brief it was really easy for me to just get started. I knew what kind of style, expression, and color palette to use. So, I researched a lot of portrait photos of RBG to get familiar with her face. Made some sketches to get the feeling in my hand and then started to find the right kind of texture of shapes and lines that should go with her portrait. It’s all made digitally in Photoshop which is the common way for me to create pictures nowadays. Especially for clients, who often need something edited or changed during the process. It saves us all time! Since this portrait was going to be very minimalistic, that was the way to go. Maybe that’s always the hardest component to achieve in a project. It’s soo much easier to just keep adding and adding. But it’s also nice to see something clean like this even though there’s still a lot of life within the lines and shapes.