Eirik Lyster on Mixing the Sweet with the Unpleasant
At the west point of Aker Brygge in Oslo lies the Astrup Fearnly museum, the city’s most prestigious gallery for showcasing contemporary art where up and coming artist Eirik Lyster recently had an exhibition. We met up with him for a casual coffee in the same area (known for the city’s most extortionate prices for a pint) to talk about his distinct style for mixing the sweet with the unpleasant and a love for popular culture and fashion.
Your illustrations are almost childlike at first glance, yet they appear darker when looking a bit closer. Is there anything particular that inspires you to take on this combination?
I always try to produce art which is easy on the eyes yet conveys feelings of something mysterious and a bit unpleasant. It’s uninteresting for me to make something which is purely sweet or purely negative as in reality I think we live in what lies somewhere in between those things. What inspires me can be everything from personal events to popular culture, fashion or fame. Quite often it’s the casual things which we all think about daily and to be honest it doesn’t really matter what it is. As long as it’s interesting I’ll get inspired by anything. To put it simply, my main idea is to present what I see in the most beautiful way I can. Being positive or negative, my feelings towards anything will always be translated through my work.
Do you know at an instant how it’s all supposed to look like?
I’ve been seeing images in things like music, events and popular culture for as long as I can remember. At times it’s obvious how a drawing is supposed to look like and I get a clear idea of what I want instantly. At other times however, the process is more complex and I will draft and work on something until I get a clear direction of what I want. Just how a musician would be composing music I guess.
There’s a recurring character in your drawings, is there a story behind it?
The creature is originally a rubber duck and appeared as a symbol of popular culture which grew into becoming it’s own character with a life of it’s own.
You can see it dressed up in different costumes, appearing in different settings within it’s own little world. In a way, it is a recognizable piece of popular culture put into my own universe which binds the fantasy world and the real world together. The duck is the recurring element which is a big part of my voice as an artist. I’ve always thought the concept of branding and marketing pop-art was intriguing and the character is a way of showcasing that.
Judging by your sense of fashion and style, could you say that the character is this a metaphor for you as a person?
Yeah I guess you could say that. It’s natural for me to have a distinct image as an artist through fashion. The image of certain celebrities is something I’ve always been taken by and I guess when you’re an artist you’re allowed to act out these things, to become what you admire in you’r own way. You’re allowed to be a bit eccentric.
There is something fairy tale-like about your drawings. Are there any people or childhood memories which has influenced you here?
My expression is definitely somewhat fairy tale like and I’m very fascinated by the nordic climate, nature, trees and dark scandinavian scenery. Thinking about it I could name Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen (famous for dark illustrations of nature and fairy tales) as an important inspiration for me. I always address current themes found anywhere but it’s all showcased within this dark mysterious world.
And what about your plans for the future?
I have a few exhibitions coming up as well as doing more work as a stylist for musicians, fashion shoots, music videos and various film projects. At the moment I’m incredibly busy and I’m constantly working on new art, so stay put!
Words: Sondre Kveldsvik Askedalen
Illustrations: Eirik Lyster
Photography: Linnea Syversen