THICKER THAN BLOOD
CHRIS MAGNUSSON (1984. Goteborg, Sweden)
Photos: Malin Liveståhl.
-Is your mustache useful for purification?
Kind of, it filters my beer and gives me the ultimate purest brew. It doesn’t filter my speaking though, which is cool.
I never think of my mustache because I’ve had it for so long. It has gone in and out of fashion a couple of times during my mustache period. I think it’s manly and sexy. I want to look like a vintage porn actor.
-What emotions have you inherited from your mother?
I wish I was my mothers direct opposite. Isn’t that what all children fight for, to not become like their parents?
Maybe self-pity? I can get really mad without showing it too.
-Your drawing style is practical and direct. Is this a safe way to live without debts?
I had a exhibition last year and I thought all my drawings was coded so only I understood them, but after speaking with people who visited the exhibition they seem to know exactly what I mean with my work. C’mon, not even I knew what I mean with my work! That was kind of cool.
I like to think of my work as jigsaw puzzles and most of the time the last pieces are missing. Then this clever kid walks up and finishes the puzzle in seconds.
-You enjoy drawing. What is so fantastic about it?
It’s fast and antique, very lo-tech. I like that the old Greeks and Egyptians use the same tools for drawing as I do now.
Every “artist” begin to draw, some stay with the pencil others find other ways to express their thoughts.
Also, all great things begin at the drawing table, no matter what it is.
-Drawing: is it a hand play (impulse) or is it more a mental game?
It’s a hand game and a mental play. I try my best not to focus on my technique and skill within my hand. I try to block what I’ve learned and let my inner ghost take over. It’s like annoying pop-ups from a porn site. It just keeps popping up new things in my head. Not always of course. Sometimes I calculate and think about composition and stuff.
-What values do you appreciate in others drawings?
When I see something that I wish I did myself. It can be anything really. A doodle, the way a character’s eye looks or just a great idea or topic. I like ironic stuff like a comedian’s funeral. That would make a great drawing.
-Your drawings have the fresh impulse of a sketch. Has “no-sketching” improved your drawing skills?
Funny thing is that if I don’t draw for some time, like if I’m working on something else, I tend to learn stuff and sharpen my skills during that time. I had a period a couple of years ago when I didn’t draw for some time and when I began again I made really cool stuff, if that is what you mean?
-A simple marker seems to be enough for you. Does simplicity work well in life?
Life is hard as it is so why make it even more complex? I have tons of problems and things that I need to work with and leave behind. I don’t have the time to execute excellent and complex pieces of art which I’m kind of happy with. Of course it would be fun to complete all ideas I have in my mind but that is just impossible. I have learned to accept life and all it’s turns.
-What are your basic drawing tools?
0.6 Pentel pencil and various markers, eraser and triangular ruler are my favorites right now. Charcoal is kind of cool too. It gets really deep black which I like.
-Knives, cars and skulls appear often in your images. What other objects is Magnusson´s signature?
Ha-ha, yes that’s true. Well, I tend to draw lots of naked people, stars, clouds, guts, brain substance, smoke, spray cans and eyeballs. Stuff like that. Various tattoo and graffiti elements.
-Which dark feelings/thoughts tormented your childhood?
The feeling of being left alone tormented my childhood. My dad left when I was five years old and my big brother moved when I was four so it was only me and my mother. I was very afraid that she would leave me too.
-What’s in your refrigerator?
Lots of veggies! My gf and I are vegetarians so we never store any animals in the fridge. Other then that it’s just regular breakfast ingredients I guess.
When I was little I used to freeze found objects in the freezer. I had a couple of children’s shoes in there. Dunno why. Mom forced me to throw them out.
-What things make you a prisoner?
I can’t say I’m a prisoner. Most times I feel very free. I don’t have any kids or any job with regular hours. I can do whatever I like basically.
-Why and where did you meet Marcus Jonsson?
I met Marcus in 2008 in school. It was a foundation school of arts. We began collaborate with some animations and we’ve made three music videos for different bands so far. Our first animation was exhibited at Vårsalongen 2009 at Liljevalchs konsthall in Stockholm. Marcus and I thought that was good for being our first collaboration so we kept on working together.
-For your girlfriend: what has been the hardest thing to understand/deal from you?
She says my farts are the hardest to deal with. I think she’s right.
-How is the religiosity going in Sweden?
Being Christian in Sweden can’t be easy. Most people here are atheists and Christians are often looked upon as geeks. Like if someone doesn’t drink, people think that either they are alcoholics or Christians.
I don’t think it’s fair to be born into a religious family. It would be better if someone that needs guidance can find his or hers own higher power when he or she needs it or simply stumbles upon it. Faith isn’t something you should force on to people. When they feel ready they will turn to the greater forces.
-Are you conscious of all the people that you have inspired through internet?
No, not really? Sometimes I can recognize some elements in other people’s work that I do in mine. Whether they meant to or not, I take credit for it. I’m not saying anyone is copying my stuff but they should. I would have copied my stuff. It’s great!
-What faces would you like to be surrounded with?
I like to be surrounded with cool faces.
-Which are your favorite artists from Flickr?
I always like to see new stuff from Derek M Ballard, Massimiliano Bomba, Yannick Val Gesto, Dan Has Potential, Le Merde, Kikifruit, N’roll, Stéphane Prigent, Julien Kedryna, push the button multimedia, lageometrie, joe 83, miss lotion, ekta, Adam Zeek, Frédéric Fleury, Brecht Vandenbroucke, Andreas Banderas, norfolk oak, niggnight, Ignace Wouters, René Josdal, turbonini… well I could keep on forever. Gotta love the internet!
-After a moral collapse, what crimes could take you to jail?
Fraud, intoxication or/and murder. If it was murder it would be like in a criminal investigation series on TV. Clever, smooth and clean. Make it look like suicide or something. That’s my melody.
In my early teens I got caught for every silly thing I did. Like shoplifting and such. Mom had to pick me up the police station a couple of times. I have never been arrested for intoxication though.
-In art, is the esthetical/emotional experience more important than skills?
Yes of course. Art is a way to express stuff and to target important issues in our society. It doesn’t need to look good but it depends on what you want to say with your art. Personally I dig 17th century masters more than today’s concept artists. I often make fun of pretentious artists in my comics and I’m planning to make a series of cartoons about a conceptual artist and his friends.
-What is the sense of art?
It doesn’t have to be so damn complex. That’s one thing I think most people do wrong, they put art and culture on such high horses. What’s the point with that? It just confuses them.
I don’t like whole grain art. It can be good for you, but it doesn’t taste as good.
-What is your experience working as a team/ doing collaborations in 2009?
I made a music video for Swedish band Love Is All with Marcus Jonsson. It’s good to collaborate and I encourage every artist to do it or at least try it once or twice.
-Where is your studio located?
At the moment I’m a part of the ORO collective here in Goteborg. It works as a gallery space and there are also some studios. I share studio with Ekta, which is great. I’m a fan of his work. I will get another studio in northern Sweden really soon too. I’m off to art academy but I hope to come home and work in my regular studio as often as possible.
-Did you design the tattoos that you wear?
No I didn’t. I think when you get tattooed you need to pick something and then let the tattoo artist draw it. It’s more fun. For example, if you want to do a bad ass snake tattoo, you don’t bring an exact stencil for the artist. You should respect the tattooist and rely on his or her skills.
If someone comes to me with an idea for an illustration I want to do the drawing. If they bring a “sketch” that is exactly what they want, why contact me in the first place?
-You also do music and animation. What other things put color in your daily living?
I actually enjoy cooking a lot. I used to hate eating and cooking because I thought it was a total waste but I guess I’ve matured. It’s very important to eat good stuff. Also, I have to say that I like to work a lot, like in a warehouse just carry heavy boxes. It makes me feel good.
Interview by Roger Omar – August 2009.
(PUBLISHED IN THE MAGAZINE D(X)I #35.
SUMMER. SPAIN// www.dximagazine.com)