Frida Clements (US)

Frida Clements (US)

Fed up with those artists dreaming of working for Baroness, Mastodon or...let's say …obscure indie-alternative band ? Well, you will be more than happy to discover Frida's work, and maybe not only because she's dreaming of making a poster for ABBA reunion tour (ahhhh....those swedish girls :) ), but also because her world is full of poetry

 Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you ?

Most likely something from the vinyl collection. Living in Seattle I am lucky to have a lot of friends that put out incredible music constantly, I have also been listening to some spectacular Light in the Attic reissues. And my fiancé just picked up a sweet Harry Nilsson record today, probably will be in heavy rotation this month.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

My name is Frida. I'm a graphic designer and illustrator, most of my work is music or entertainment related - screen printed gig-poster design being the most high-profile example of what I do. But I also design identities for fun companies, music packaging, art prints and the like.

I was born in Sweden, but moved to Seattle in 1980 after my parent's split. I've been living here ever since, but remain really close with my family in Sweden. Life in the Pacific Northwest as well as Scandinavian culture and style are pretty evident in my work, I'm heavily influenced by both.

When did you start drawing? 

I can't remember not drawing. One of the first memories I have is being told I need to stop drawing so much by one of my Montessori school teachers, because that's all I wanted to do - apparently I hated Math even then.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks? 

 I was lucky that my mother enjoyed drawing and painting herself, so the tools were always available. Art & English were the only classes I ever excelled in, and I took as many art classes as was allowed all through school. I'd also tag along when my mom took the occasional figure study or watercolor workshops. I had some tough years in my late teens, long story short I became a mother myself at 19. Once my son was born I knew I had to find a way to provide a decent life for him, and art was all I knew. I took drawing, painting, art history and print production at a nearby college, but it wasn't until I discovered an excellent program through Seattle Central Creative Academy that I started to learn what graphic design was. I completed my design & illustration degree in 2000 and have been designing ever since.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ? 

I've been employed as a designer for various firms and organizations since graduating, but for the last 6 months have been completely independent, just relying on freelance and poster art.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly? 

Not enough, no. One of the challenges of being a designer is that the work itself takes so much of my time that I can't really focus on publications or the scene. Happy to be included, but for the most part I'm oblivious as to what's happening currently.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

One of my biggest influences is my environment. What I see when I walk outside my door, the color combinations that occur, the juxtaposition of nature and man-made elements. In addition I'm directly inspired by the music I happen to be designing for. As far as visual artists go I feel like my inspiration comes from all over the place: children's book illustrators Trina Schart Hyman and Elsa Beskow, Swedish painter Carl Larsson, Art Nouveau posters of Alphonse Mucha, and photographer Uta Barth. Current poster designers I admire are many, Jeff Kleinsmith, Andy Abero, and Landland to name a few. But the inspiration I get from other poster designers is more related to why I became a poster designer, not present in the work itself. When I see a poster that really blows me away it invigorates me to keep doing what I love. And it's not a competitive feeling, it's more about admiring people that continue reaching to produce really great work time and again - and holding myself to that standard as much as I can as well.

What are the principal steps in your work ? 

I can't say that I have a standard way of doing things. If I'm designing a poster, I research the band and their music pretty extensively. Headphones are a requirement. And then I have to mull it over for a few days until I finally figure out. The best ideas come when I'm not stressing out about coming up with the best idea. And the first solution is not necessarily the right solution.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

50/50 as of late, but it depends on what the project calls for. Sometimes illustration doesn't make sense, sometimes it's better to do a trippy collage or to take lots of photos or just use type. I don't like to box myself in when it comes down to the finished product. If the process isn't fun or inventive in some way I tend to get stuck and frustrated. 

 How long does it take you to do a poster? 

Anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks. I just spent an insane amount of hours on a poster for Andrew Bird recently. It was such an honor to design for him, I wanted it to be perfect. Sometimes it feels a bit silly, obsessing over one image for so long - at the end of the day it's just a poster. But posters are my passion.

You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ? 

I keep the client in mind with every project. However, the clients that trust my abilities and process end up with a much better outcome. Whenever I get handed a list of restrictions or a very specific idea it becomes much harder to create work that I feel attached to or proud of. It really comes down to respect and creative control. If my expertise is trusted I have an easier time creating something that kicks ass, for sure.

For which band have you already worked for?

Through my former employer(s) I was able to design a lot of posters for bands like Bon Iver, The Pixies, Fleet Foxes, Rufus Wainwright, Wilco, Joanna Newsom, Sufjuan Stevens, it goes on and on. Recently I've designed for Justin Townes Earle, Nada Surf, Andrew Bird... And I'm a Seattle girl, so I have a soft spot for all the local bands... The Moondoggies, The Fruit Bats, Grand Hallway, Gold Leaves, Damien Jurado, The Cave Singers, etc. I was also responsible for commissioning all of the posters for the Sasquatch Music Festival for 4 years, which was a really great way to meet a ton of incredible designers.

For which band would you love to work? 

I'd love to get the chance to design an Arcade Fire poster at some point. And Feist, I love her. Jose Gonzalez and Lykke Li are also on my list.... and ABBA. No way in hell that would ever happen, but it would be pretty sweet.

Do you choose the artists yourself? 

As much as possible. If I don't like the band it doesn't make sense to design a poster for them.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

Right before I have my creative breakthrough, which falls somewhere between wanting to cut off my ear and wanting to jump out the window. And then I usually figure it out and it's finished pretty quickly after that point.

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?

I'm part of a community of designers that specialize in posters, but that grouping is just based on occupation. I don't personally identify with being part of a scene, I'm just an artist trying to figure out how to pay rent by doing what I love. I have no idea about who or what is hot now, nor do I care. I'm going to be designing until the day I die... maybe the focus will shift, maybe it won't. Maybe people will like my work, maybe they won't even notice. I don't waste time being concerned about where I fit in, I'd much rather focus on creating.

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?

My website:
My facebook (most of my updating takes place here):
Twitter: @vikingpwr

The best praise you received lately?

My daughter came up to me when I was drawing something and said "Woah. That's good!" I've gotten some really lovely press, but when my kids actually notice what I do it is definitely awesome. I want nothing more than for my children to feel free to follow their passion, so I try to lead by example. Life is short, it's important to do what you love.

What can we wish you for the future?

 I'm just going to continue to challenge myself, create beautiful work, maybe design for ABBA's reunion tour someday.
    Ha ha.

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