Take one look at Sander Berg’s digital paintings and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time — if there was Photoshop, of course.
The Swedish, UK-based illustrator seamlessly blends contemporary techniques and medieval subject matter, finding inspiration in art of the Renaissance and Middle Ages, nature and animals (unicorns included). His style has lent itself to various zines and books, gallery shows in the UK and US, and most recently, a Google Doodle for St. David’s Day 2018. Check out the interview below as Sander walks us through his artistic process, medieval inspiration and flowers on flowers.
Where are you based, what kind of art do you create and is art your full-time gig?
I’m based in Wales, UK, but originally from Sweden. I’m a digital artist whose work takes a lot of inspiration from nature and medieval art, with a focus on interesting textures and colors. I split my time working with illustrations and my part-time job, where I design kitchens.
Can you describe the creative process you recorded?
Working digitally and using a limited number of textured brushes, I build up colors and lines by drawing on top of and beneath previous layers; I don’t like to erase things much, instead opting to paint on previous parts of the image and shape the work that way.
I work on a lot of layers and overlay things, as I like to be able to go back and change small details if needed. I also utilize two screens – my Cintiq and my standard monitor- so I can check that colours work across different areas. Final touches are made by transferring the complete piece to a separate documents for some mild colour modification and smaller finishing touches.
It’s a little bit messy, to be perfectly honest, as I continually create lots of layers to do various little things on. That’s ok though, it’s what works for me and I enjoy doing. It’s not the fastest way, perhaps, but it’s fun! I find it really important to work in a way that works for the individual, not so much just aimed to be streamlined/the most traditionally efficient/fast. It’s all a journey and I try to make it as interesting and fun for myself as I can.
What is the backstory for this piece of artwork–or what makes it unique?
I love mille-fleur – literally meaning “thousand flowers” in French, it’s a background style where a piece is peppered with various flowers and plants, common in European tapestries in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It’s visually interesting and I find it quite peaceful to create myself. I wanted this piece to be fairly fun for me to create, something that would be nice to create and to look at – also, I’m just really fond of unicorns. Essentially, it’s a very self-indulgent piece with a heavy medieval inspiration.
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself in creating art?
Maybe not so much related to actually creating art, but everything related to it has impacted me. Through researching various topics, interacting with other artists and creatives, going to events, visiting galleries/museums/venues, etc., it’s given me more interesting hobbies, interests, ideas, thought processes – essentially, it’s given me a richer quality of life.
What are you listening to while you create?
A lot of Spotify mixes (I got engaged recently so there were a lot of sappy romantic love songs for this one, sprinkled with a mixed bag of 00’s emo, Swedish metal, and modern indie) and podcasts – I’m a big fan of My Brother, My Brother and Me (a comedy advice podcast where three brothers answers questions submitted by listeners and found on Yahoo! Answers) and The Adventure Zone (said brothers and their father playing Dungeons & Dragons).
We need you to brag a little bit. What are you most proud of accomplishing as an artist? Big or small.
I got the fantastic opportunity to draw a Doodle for Google recently, for St. David’s Day in UK. It was a little bit like a childhood dream come true, and I am so grateful to AD Sophie Diao for getting me involved. (There was a a bit of mille-fleur happening for that one too! It’s just real fun drawing that)
Non-specific-work related, I’m happy that I get the chance to do what I like day in and day out. There are tough days, of course, but it’s dang nice knowing that people appreciate what I do and I can keep doing it as long as possible.
Any parting words for your fellow creatives?
Don’t be afraid to do things a certain way just because you like it, even if it might be considered inefficient or slow or whatnot. Creative work doesn’t have to be a streamlined process; you gotta enjoy what you do too. Take your time, find what works for you. Do what you want and what will give you the most fun creating.