Tintin Lindkvist Nielsen is a Swedish illustrator and animator who recently graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design.
Working interdisciplinary in visual communication and storytelling, she spends her time creating short animations, bright gouache paintings, inky black and loose drawings in blue, and sets and props for stop-motion films.
“I like to use colors and characters to create worlds that look like ours and are different at the same time,” she explains. “A lot of my work is connected to feelings.” Here we chat with Tintin about dealing with overwhelming thoughts, moving to the UK and developing a children’s book for her graduation project.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in southern Sweden called Karlskrona. It is an idyllic summer resort surrounded by the blue ocean and boats. I was and still am very sensitive, and I remember struggling with the feeling of being too sensitive and overthinking things. At that point, creating would become something of an escapism. It was a space where anything was possible, something I was good at, and where overwhelming thoughts could be expressed.
How did you get into art?
I’ve always been drawn to all things creative. I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. My parents don’t work in the creative industry, but they always told me to follow my passions.
Why did you choose your course and your university?
It was one of those things that happened without too much thought. One thing led to another and suddenly I was accepted into the Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design course. It was a combination of hearing good things about the school and realizing that if I wanted a smooth transition to the UK, it had to be before Brexit.
I had an “it’s now or never” mentality when I applied and did everything I could to get into this school. I had already completed a foundation course in Sweden to study visual communication and knew I wanted to continue in the same field.
How was the experience?
It was like a roller coaster ride. I feel blessed that myself and my family are healthy, but also frustrated that I haven’t had access to the studios for a year and a half. Luckily I had two fantastic roommates during this time. We kept each other sane and worked together on art projects. Working from home also meant my work became more digital and I developed skills in 2D animation. This time also taught me not to take anything for granted.
Coming back and using the facilities and studios again sparked a fire within me and I wanted to make the most of this past year. But it was also overwhelming as we had to make up for lost time in a year.
What can you tell us about your final project?
My latest project is a children’s book called Lollipop Tuesday, aimed at three to six year olds. The main character, a Pallas cat who owns a corner shop, deals with feelings like not being good enough. The book ends with the protagonist realizing that it’s okay to ask for help and remember to be kind to yourself.
Importantly, this character’s sensitivity allows him to help so many clients. They notice things that others overlook and they are thoughtful and authentic, all of which are positive traits. The word “sensitive” has a negative connotation in our society. I would like to say to children and their parents that sensitivity also has positive aspects.
I based the story on my feelings and experiences and an interview with a corner shop owner. I told him about my idea and he said it was scary how he could handle the subject and thought I must have written the book about him. My illustrations from the book are traditionally painted with gouache. They are scanned and some line art has been digitally added using Procreate software.
Don’t take rejection personally. That doesn’t mean your work is bad; it can just mean it wasn’t right for that particular job—but it fits perfectly with something else.
Can you describe your style in your own words?
I think my style is always changing and evolving. I like to try new things, but what is constant is my use of bright colors and linework.
Who or what inspires you?
I get inspiration by observing people, nature, houses and events around me. I usually draw people I see and make up stories inspired by clues that might tell me who they are. For example, what are they wearing? Do they seem relaxed or are they in a hurry? Where you go?
What are your hopes for your career?
I hope my career includes projects that force me to be challenged and work with many different creative approaches. For example, painting giant murals, making a commercial stop-motion video for a brand, or illustrating for a children’s book author. I would love to keep experimenting and trying new things and creating narratives about issues that feel important and move people.
How do you feel about your graduation in 2022?
It’s exciting that things have returned to normal this year. Graduating that year meant we could have a physical graduation exhibition. It’s been a long time coming and I hope people are now ready and excited to make new connections and collaborations.
It’s scary to be thrown out into the world after four years of college with no idea what’s next. I hope that I can continue to do what I love. I also want to work towards getting my children’s book published.
What advice would you give to others following in your footsteps?
It’s okay to get a no when applying for a job or entering competitions. There will probably be many of these, but I think it’s important to remember that all you need is a “yes.” It is also important not to take rejection personally. That doesn’t mean your work is bad; it can just mean it wasn’t right for that particular job—but it fits perfectly with something else.