Having recently completed her final year at Central Saint Martins, Futures artist Alva has already made a big impact in the industry.
Having recently completed her final year at Central Saint Martins, Alva has already made a big impact in the industry. In 2017 she won a Yellow Pencil in the D&AD New Blood Awards and exhibited twice at Cluster Arts Illustration edition II and III in Shoreditch. In 2018 she was highly commended in the V&A Illustration Awards and shortlisted in the Penguin Student Design Awards, as well as being a 2018 It’s Nice That Graduate.
We managed to take Alva out of her busy schedule for a few moments to get to know the rising star…
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you became an illustrator?
I’m from Stockholm, Sweden and since I can remember I have always loved drawing.
I just finished my bachelor in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. Before that I did a two year fine art course in Sweden. Now I’m a freelancer!
Why do you want to be an illustrator?
Because it is something I am very passionate about. Art and illustration is a way for me to express my ideas and ideals, and a way of communicating whilst highlighting issues in society. For me, illustration and art is a powerful (political) tool.
How would you describe your style?
Right now my style is characterised by bold colours, big hands, sculptural bodies, and a lot of female representation.
Ah yes, a lot of your work features ‘oversized’ female characters. Why is that?
I am very conscious of not making female characters sexualised. It is so common in the way women are depicted today in the media and everywhere really, so that is something I am actively avoiding.
For me it is also a way of questioning existing gender stereotypes and narrow body ideals. No tiny hands or feet, and no thin waists. I also like to distort body parts, especially hands because they are so expressive.
We can totally get on board with that. Where or who do you find inspiration?
I am very influenced by feminist science fiction at the moment, especially authors such as Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy. I find it so inspiring how they deal with questions of identity. My classmates are also a big source of inspiration and motivation.
Generally though, where I find most of my inspiration is from all the women and non-binary people in my life, their strength and wisdom always inspire me.
What’s your Proudest professional moment to date?
I am very honoured and proud to have been highly commended in this year’s V&A Illustration Awards and that I am currently being exhibited at the V&A.
I’m also super excited to have been commissioned to do the cover for G2!
Sounds like you’re going from strength to strength! Your project ‘AS IT IS’ has seen your illustrations turned into 3D sculptures. Can you tell us a bit about this project?
I was put in touch via Instagram with Dan Kim, the founder of Unique Board. Unique board collaborate with inspiring artists and creatives to create limited edition original sculptures. Together we made this project ‘AS IT IS’.
Inspired by women and non-binary people that are pushing the boundaries of gender identity, I have designed the sculptures AS, IT and IS. They challenge the narrow body ideals, free from sexualisation with their big hands and feet they are not afraid to take up space. My wish is to criticise body ideals and demands of conforming to bodily perfection and to celebrate differences since differences are great and As It Is.
Are there any other things you have previously experimented with?
I have recently been experimenting with animation. My animation ‘About Morfar’ is my interpretation of a recorded conversation between my Mother and my Grandmother about my Grandfather. I would like to continue to explore animating my work even further.
And last but not least… It’s mid-afternoon, you crave a snack: Savoury vs Sweet?
It’s got to be savoury!