Let there be light and there was Josefin. I met the artist over a glass of sparkling (nonalcoholic) wine at an open air-cafe and indeed was she deLIGHTful.
Breifly she told me about her adult life, how she found colour as a source to happiness, her interest in water and light and how she studied economics but ended up working as a neon artist, or ”creator” as she preferes to call herself. She has exhibited at Art Basel and done a job for Absolut Vodka (the one with alcohol). While rounding up our meeting the skies suddenly turned dark, stormy with heavy rain and lightning. Josefin proved she’s lit!
I work full time as a brand leader and creative in an app firm. Then I work at least half time as a creator and artist of my own neon lights.
Born and raised?
Gothenburg with my family in an area called Kärringberget.
What have you studied? Fine arts?
No, I’ve studied economics with Spanish orientation at the Uni but the spanish part was difficult so I moved to San Sebastian and stayed with an old lady who helped me to speak spanish fluently. Then I studied marketing. But honestly studying economics was the most boring thing I’ve done in my life.
So how did you come across this artistic profession?
I traveled after high school and then I started to study economics. But then I started questioning everything I did and at the same time moved to Madrid. Then I came back to Sweden and got a job in an advertising agency and there, during lunch breaks, I went to the library and came across books about Dan Flavin, James Turelll and Keith Sonnier and was totally enchanted by neon and this art orientation. So I started an instagram account with other peoples/unknown pictures, booked a study visit at Sygns and got to start a collaboration with them since they liked my interest and my sense of style with the neon. I spent the summer in Berlin working with neon glass benders and then held my first exhibition in Gothenburg and shortly after I had a light exhibition during Art Basel in Basel. Everything just happened, sort of sneaking in to my life. This was 1,5 years ago and since then it has been lit. I got work for Absolut and Warner Music and other big companies. It led me into working with led light too.
When did you know you wanted to become an artist? Have you always been creative?
Yes I’ve always been creative. When I was little I cut out the insert pics of new borns in the daily news paper and stored them in a happy meal box from McDonalds. I built robots and made animals out of pearls and sold them put up on a surfboard outside the local grocery store. I made crochet garlands and decorated my room to sort of create a cosy bubble. My drawing practise came later due to my art teacher’s negative comment in elementary school, but I’ve always been collecting things for craftings.
What’s so fascinating about strong neon colours?
I’ve always liked disco lamps and lava lamps. When I was feeling down I had everything black. My clothes, interior, everything! Later I realised colour made me happy and little by little some colour was added to my sphere and then it even started to function as protest to the previous black. Colours generates good energies. You can light up a room with a small, pink neon light and it will make you happy! Light is changable and I love to experiment with it.
Neon is a chemial element yet the first thing I think of is neon as cityscapes, skysracpes and something artificial. What’s your thought on neon? Do you see them as natural or artificial?
Artificial. I think of crummy and dirty places like underground venues and the red light district. I wanted to show that neon could be used to make venues happy instead. And it’s nice knowing it’s an element and that its gas is alive, like it’s dancing in there.
As an artist/creator, do you feel closer to the inventor and industrialist Thomas Edison or the violent genius Caravaggio and his tenebrism?
Who and what inspires you?
Many THINGS. Funny because I once tried to become an immaterialist.. Things in and in relation to water, irregular shapes of water, mirrors in the bathtub and clouds. Things that are inconstant. Also, Arvida Byström, Uglyworldwide, my friend Gustaf, my boyfriend and Japan with all the strong, mismatching colours.
Something you never eat?
World’s hottest woman? Man?
Arvida Byström - Wiliam Hellström.
If Tokyo and Basel made a baby I would move there.
In a small house with a garden for all my future animals. The entire house would be a music/neon studio so me and my bf coud do stuff in there together.
I happen to wake up early, it’s raining outside and I can stay in to build stuff out of my material. I would listen to music, take a walk, eat a lot and then go back to pottering. Maybe meet some friends for a dinner somewhere.
If you would give a Ted Talk what would it be about?
Hmm, maybe how to level up the amount of experiences in everyday life without necessarily go traveling. Like a different way to live you Monday, little things like shower with clothes on, put you foot in wallpaper paste, have a picknick in pouring rain without an umbrella or go shopping barefoot. Ways to widen you experience!
What does it look like at your place?
There are a lot of stuff going on. One room apartment with 4 neon signs, led tubes, plants, lava lamps, framed pics, glitter, pink, a lot of colour and craft boxes.
So what would you grab if your house was on fire?
Actually, when I was little I prepared and packed bags if this would happen.. Today I would grab my two statues, one dolphin in a turquoise snow globe and a female statue in namaste in shiny pink and purple. Oh and my photos on the fridge.
What would you have told to your 19 year-old self?
Listen to your inner self and take some risks! Things will be OK!!!!!
What’s coming up?
I’m preparing my exhibition with a new collection of neon lights by the end of the summer! Stay tuned!! Then I’m gonna travel, both with my job and exclusively.
Images courtesy of JOSEFIN EKLUND
interview REBECCA LOVGRENS
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