Getting to know: Sven Clarkson


Sven has been creating for as long as he can remember, whether it was crayons at kindy or pencils, paint and fine arts at high school he has been an avid doodler since. His formal education through Massey University in Wellington has led him to be working for a high-end furniture and lighting Design company based in Auckland at Tim Webber Design. He creates visually striking pieces with a high level of resolve and detail using fine line markers. Sven Draws a lot of inspiration from various sub-cultures of tattoo art and design. We caught up with Sven recently and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his life and the processes behind his work:

How did your artwork start out?

My artwork started out as a passion for drawing, I never really viewed anything I did personally as artwork.

What is your background?

I am Half cast Kiwi Swedish but grew up in a rural Canterbury town in the South Island called Darfield, from a tight knit family of six so was super active as a kid growing up.

Did you always want to be an artist?

Nope haha very early on as child I was convinced I wanted to be a professional footballer like David Beckham but I’ve always loved the idea of creating for a living.

What did you want to be when you grow up? 

David Beckham haha.

How have you developed your career?

Until recently I didn’t have the courage or fortitude to realise I was talented enough, although being constantly reminded by my family and close friends to pursue the avenue. Doodlewear has been an amazing enabler to push my passion for drawing and creating further.

Do you have a role model that you’ve drawn inspiration from when creating your art?

I have a few; I really look up to Artists like Iain Mac Arthur, Paul Jackson and Nouvelle Rita. Really inspiring styles and ridiculously detailed work, which I absolutely love and aim to emulate through my own work!

What inspires you? 

Being able to see your own visual progression over time, how I drew five years ago compared to how I draw now is worlds apart. It’s super rewarding to see your own style evolve and change as you implement and experiment with new styles techniques and tools.

What do you do when you’re not inspired to create art? What brings your mojo back?

Take breaks from it. You don’t have to be an art creating machine 24/7. Quite often sitting down and forcing yourself to draw isn’t going to achieve the best results, I Try my best not to put that pressure on myself and would rather create from the excitement of a concept or idea rather than banging out 10 drawings I know I’m going to hate. Quality over Quantity, every time!

What does your art aim to say to your audience?

Just to be visually interesting, create striking content and use contrast to maybe get the viewer to glance at the work a second or third time and look for those second read details. People can pull whatever meaning they need from my work; I’m just trying to create a body of work that I can be proud of.

What are you known for?

Chrispy Black line work and detail, detail, detail!

What is your process when creating new art?

Getting the initial idea down quickly is important: I usually rough out the design in pencil within 10-30mins of roughing it out and re-work through it with markers, that’s the really time consuming part. I am also a massive music head so I always jam out to tunes when ever I can, it really helps to clear my some times over active mind and get in the flow, how to enter zen creator mode 101 haha.

How has your art evolved over the years?

My style has changed pretty dramatically, tightened up a lot but also not being so precious of making a mistake or throwing down the wrong line, embrace it! I guess I have more confidence and feel like I’m more in control of the overall process.

What media do you use with your artwork?

I am pretty old school with the way I create. I like the traditional pen to paper approach. I can grasp photoshop and illustrator etc I just prefer the feeling and the craft of hand drawn, very anti-millennial I know!

What are your tools of choice?

My weapon of choice is typically a 0.03 staedtler pigment liner (post drafting of course) We used these bad boys in graphics for technical drawings and drafts, game changer! 

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without?

Sounds absolute cheese but without imagination I’d be stuffed, and music! Music is essential to me when creating!

What music do you tend to listen to whilst creating?

I really enjoy listening to instrumental lo-fi trip-hop or acid jazz mixes on Youtube, it helps quiet my mind and get in the zone. They last several hours too, which is ideal when you get into that creative funk that time evaporates so quickly.

What’s the best part about working with your chosen medium?

Once you throw down a line you have to jump in and commit, there’s no going back.

What themes do you pursue?

Combinations of Line art, psychedelic and surrealism I guess, things that are emotive but don’t have to make sense. I don’t know where half of my designs eventuate from; at times they seem so random and just plucked from thin air haha, deep in the subconscious…

What is your favourite subject matter to draw, and why?

I don’t know if I have a favourite, everything poses its individual problems but I really enjoy working in patterns or geometry where I can, I’d say if I had to nail something down Animals portraits would have been some of my favourites. 

Where do you have artwork displayed?

Just on the Interwebs through and on my personal Gram page for now.

Which current art world trends are you following?

I follow a lot of big wall mural art and street art pages; I really love the scale of the works and being displayed in a super public areas. 

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

When others share in the pride of your work, it’s such a buzz when you know you’ve done something you are truly happy with. 

Do you use photo references?

All the time, if the idea or visuals aren’t vividly clear in my mind I’ll look for references to try find different ways to approach a certain line, shape or mark making style I want to achieve. 

What do you struggle with most when creating your pieces?

Knowing when to leave the idea alone, I Always find myself overworking tiny details and it ends up coming across less striking due to being over worked. It’s a real balancing act to realise when a design should be left alone and what pieces should be taken further. That’s how you learn and progress I guess, the devil is in the details for sure!

What do you enjoy outside of creating art?

I love going on Adventures! We are fortunate enough to be living in a stunning country (NZ) and I think a lot of the time we take what we have for granted, our back yard is pretty damn cool. 

Any advice for someone wanting to make art their full-time job?

Be prepared to put in the hours to achieve what you enjoy and love, it’s one thing to say what you want, it is another to go out there and do it! Be active, be patient, seek the opportunities! Good vibes only xx 

Any advice to young or new artists?

Just start, put in the hours, lead with passion and the will to create, the rest shall follow. 




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