Artist Interview: Oskar Lindholm

Oskar Lindholm is an artist out of Stockholm, Sweden who works as a graphic designer doing a variety of projects including fashion/clothing design, print designs and film/animation. After being introduced to surfing in the early 90’s during a blizzard in Sweden, he quickly fell in love with the sport and has used it as an inspiration for his life’s work. It’s not too often you hear of surfers from Sweden, let alone a creative like this guy, so it is fitting that he is our Artist Interview for the week.

How did you get started in graphic design? What were some of your first jobs? How long did it take for you to get to a point of being self employed and where you were satisfied with the work that you were putting out?

My career has been weird and long. It has taken me to many places and with many odd requests down the line. I guess the path got started in high school when I was just drawing typography and word constellations in my note books rather than taking notes from class. I was all in to graffiti and tweaking letters at the time and knew all about the early scene in the US, how it spread and the local scene around me in my hometown of Stockholm. There was no internet back then so you had to buy books, fanzines and go out and explore your hoods to see inspiration. I ended up creating a bunch of black books (that I still have somewhere) that I was proud of, but never really took too many of the pieces I created to the real canvases of the streets.

Anyways… with shitty grades (except art) I moved to the Hamptons on Long Island, NY for a few years. I met this guy that liked my sketches and my art at the time. He made me aware there was an actual occupation of sitting around just drawing, typography, scribbles, ideas and shit like that all day. I was like… no way!!! It sounded too good to be true, so from there I started working my way into the world of graphic design and figuring out what it is.

I got sucked into the IT boom throwing money at everything interactive of the late 90’s. After a couple of years I got bored with all the overtime and the web stuff with all the limitations it had back then. Having just discovered surfing, I quit my job at the agency and went to Australia to study, but more importantly to start my learning curve of riding waves.

From there it has been rolling on with jobs here and there at different agencies and freelance of various types and caliber. My focus have never really been on getting rich and famous, but rather to live a majestic lifestyle of surfing, traveling and doing the things I like (as much as possible).

Tell us about your design firm, Flower Hell. What types of projects do you work on? How many people are involved? Where might someone recognize your work?

Flower Hell was started by me & my girlfriend, Freshteh, a few years back. She’s in the film industry so we wanted to create a creative sort of production company, to work as an umbrella organization, which could branch out with time and include anything creative really. Arts, Films, Fashion, Music, Surf, Skate… you name it. All things we dig.

We have so many creative friends around us and we meet a wide spectrum of uber creative souls in our daily lives… so trying to tie it all together was our plan. It’s more fun working alongside friends and like-minded people you know. But we are still just getting started and preparing to hit the world with our styles and productions.

How would you say the graphic design world has changed the most in the time you have been involved?

Hmmm… tough question. I think the biggest change I have seen and experienced has to be the digital revolution. And in there the internet has got to be THE single most influential factor to both the design and the industry. Having been a part since its infancy, I have seen so many waves of change.

All that it has brought with it in anything from printing to how people now connect and share information and inspiration. We can send or share files from on side of the globe to another in a matter of seconds and the file can be an art exhibition or a film seen by millions in the next few days.

I remember in the early days how there were so many different areas of information that wasn’t too present on the net. Surfing was definitely one. Because of this I think that the surfing industry has branched out a lot today with the way that we swing. Especially just in the last 5-6 years. In every area from the arts scene to the waves we surf and our board designs.

What would be the most important job or project of your career? Why?

I’m going to answer that realizing that the two worlds that I live in and for, design and surfing, can be combined. That is, up to this date, the best and most important factor of my career. It IS my career. I am now spending most of my working time in projects related to that somehow… and working mostly with friends and like minded people. It’s definitely nothing that has made me rich (yet), but it has guaranteed to put a smile on my face while both working and living.

What other art are you involved in besides the professional work that you do?

I have many art projects going on at all times. The last few years I have taken time away from the advertising industry and commercialism as much as I can. I have focused on a few projects of my own. Especially underwater photography and other ocean influenced art projects.

A few projects are co-labs with some of the creative friends I’m surrounded by. Like two long time friends both named Andreas. I have worked close with them on art exhibitions in Stockholm and Sydney.

Anreas A. is the other half of Flower Hell / Graphics. We’ve shared studios and clients when we both live in Stockholm just because it’s more fun to work together. Then Andreas L, which I moved to Australia with in 2005 and with whom I shared a flat with for some time. We have had many joint effort projects that combine our passion for the ocean with art. Tunnelism and Style Evolution Project but to name a few.

And of course me and my girlfriend Freshteh, who is the most creative person I have ever met, comes up with new ideas all the time. I think that we need to finish a projects before we start a new though. We have a bunch going on that have not rolled out just yet, but we know that when we do, they will send waves all around.

For the last year or so I have worked a lot with my close friend Jonnie Reggie on a resort in Portugal, Surfers Lodge Peniche. It will this amazing environment and a place of art so that’s why I bring it up here. Close to the sick waves of Supertubos. Right now the builders have knocked down the old building and they are ready to start creating our vision. The governor of Peniche is doing everything he can of making Peniche the new surf capital of Europe, which of course is playing us perfectly.

Me and my girlfriend have also just jumped aboard a skate brand called 360 Project. It is a great non-profit organization that, for every skateboard they sell, send one out to parts of the world where people need it. We were just in the Philippines surfing and had a few skates with us to give out. We came up with a few small films that we’ll be working on in the next month when we have the time. I think that 360 is a great project that I’d like to see in other industries as well, especially surfing.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I have many sources that I’d like to call inspiration… but I’d like to call the main one life itself. Without coming across as a religious freak or a sect-like individual.

The way life transforms itself is all reactions to waves of different kinds. May it be waves of energy in different people around me or in the perfectness of nature. How and when it happens affect my daily life and choices.

Written words, spoken words, music, films, things, materials, people, places, experiences of all kinds influence me in some way every day that pass. There is just so much to take in these days and it’s hard to exclude anything really. I try to just suck it all in. When I do get a moment of peace and quiet it’s like it all comes towards me in a kaleidoscope. I sit back and enjoy the trip and try to create stuff inspired of it all. That might sound pretty abstract, but that’s how I feel about it… and that’s my work flow. It can even hit myself up with a little surprise every now and then.

From the design heritage of Scandinavia that I come from, with the “less is more” approach, to the beautiful accidents of digital error effects that appear in my underwater photos when I put the cameras up against the pressure of the sea.

My girlfriend is also a huge inspiration to me. She is so creative in everything she does. But she is considered a part of my life of course… so see what I mean with the life itself statement.

Being from Stockholm, how did you first get introduced to surfing? Where did you catch your first waves?

It’s funny, because I actually got introduced to surfing as early as 1993 when my friend called me from his country house north of Stockholm. There was a heavy snow blizzard and the news were warning everybody get out of their houses in the next few days. My friend was so stoked because he’d found that the raging storm generated waves in the little bay up there. He told me to get myself up there and come out battling the -20 degrees C (-4 deg F) Baltic Sea. I had some way old windsurfing gloves with cut off fingers and other misfitting apparel, so I only lasted about half hour out there… and I didn’t even catch any of the mushy waist high waves. Maybe cold made me crazy that day… Ha ha. I’m not sure. But something inside me fell in love with the feeling of being out there and the aura that surrounded it. Doing something for yourself surrounded by friends in the arms of mother nature.

I did a bit of surfing on Long Island when I lived there as well. My first real surf trip was driving down from Stockholm to Hossegor with mates in the late 90’s. All 7 of us sleeping in a van for 2 weeks.

But it wasn’t until the Millenium when I moved to Australia that I would recall learning to actually catch and ride waves. I got into surfing many different shapes, most of them older boards. Thrusters, twin fins, single fins and the odd misshaped balsa board etc.

How has surfing influenced your life, art, etc?

It has totally changed my life… and it has definitely influenced what my life is and where I’m at. The places I choose to live and the destinations I travel to are based on the possibility of waves to enjoy.

Having said that, I have lived in surf-less places like London for years… and that makes me feel like shit. Like working strict office times or being locked up when you know the waves are pumping somewhere. I end up feeling claustrophobic or like I’m in jail or something…

I just recently went to this small island in the Philippines where there are some epic waves. I had been there 8 years ago and got to know some local surfers. One guy in particular who was by far the most outstanding backside tube rider around was in my mind when I went to Cloud 9 to catch up with the locals again. I found out that the guy just recently was sent to prison for killing a guy (there was different opinions over there whether or not this was what happened). It would be such a nightmare being out there every day living with the ocean… and then a day comes when you might never even see it again. That would be too heavy for me.

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