The history of Art Klas
“-I Like your stuff,” said the editor. “I want you to draw an illustration for one of our articles. ”
“-Okay” I said breathlessly. My mouth was dry. I was about to become a real professional illustrator. My drawing would get printed in thousands upon thousands of papers and be seen by countless readers. And to top it all, I was going to be paid for this privilege! In real, actual money. Sweet, sweet money. I was an art student and plenty short on cash. O bliss! Oh joy!
“-The article is about masturbation. Can you have three sketches i can choose from ready by Wednesday?”
That Wednesday, I was at the editors office with five masterpieces for him to pick and choose from. And I sold two one of which you can see here. Radiantly happy, I returned to my brethren at the Art school. I happily explained to them that I had found a way to live of art, by selling illustrations. Much to my surprise, I was immediately shunned. Sellout Holmlund, they called me. I didn’t mind. I thought and still think that it is way cool to make a living doing what you’d otherwise do for free.
Art school days were sweet. Walking around in my trusty duffel, wearing my oh-so-stylish cowboy boots, ineffectually hitting on the cute Art school girls while chain-smoking Camels. I kept selling illustrations to a few papers, and soon came in contact with a small Ad agency called Originalverkstan. Coached by a kindly old Art Director Gerhard Dykhoff, i started to get some more serious illustration jobs and also edged into graphic design. At Originalverkstan they had a bunch of Macintoshes, who looked like spaceships to me. I wistfully dreamed that one day, somehow, i would be rich and successful enough to have my own Mac. Soon i began to emulate the style of illustration whose crisp colors and exact detail meant they had to have been made on a computer. And then one day, I found myself in a room all alone with a Quadra 900.
That was the birth of Geek Klas. Geek Klas lead to Corporate Klas and my watercolor brushes and ink pens were soon drying in a dusty corner, behind my monitor. Going digital with a vengeance, I left the pen behind. I even made a 3D illustration of a pencil dropped on the floor of a digital gallery and framed it. If you think really hard, there’s some subtle symbolism there.
For the next ten years, Art Klas lived a quiet life in the back of my mind. My artsy glasses got traded for contact lenses, my cowboy boots for a black-turtleneck-and-suit advertising agency uniform, I even quit smoking. The only time Art Klas made a reappearance was when a friend or a relative had a birthday and gift watercolor was needed. Art Klas was not dead, however. At every boring powerpoint presentation or monday meeting, he reappeared through countless intricate doodles and sketches in my notebooks.
It wasn’t until 2006, when I joined Ogilvy, that Art Klas made a comeback in a big way. I quickly learned that my job as Digital Art Director ironically meant I needed to put down the mouse and start working with a marker pen and a pad of paper. Ideas were what Ogilvy prided itself on selling, and ideas are best expressed on pen and paper. I realized Art Klas came in handy more and more as I needed to visualize the ideas Ogilvy Klas came up with for clients and coworkers. And so Art Klas was reborn, in the form of a storyboard illustrator. An example of the reborn Art Klas’s work. Yes, that is a man in a suit on a bed in a store with a bunch of bunny rabbits hopping around on the floor. Don’t try to figure it out. It belongs in the Graveyard Of Good Ideas.
Art Klas Noveau is still a bit digital, though. These days he’s traded the watercolors for a wacom pad. But still!