Growing up in Manhattan in the 1990s, illustrator Alvar Sirlin got his initial motivation from street art. Sirlin achieved his degree from RISD where he studied illustration and oil painting. He often chooses to illustrate his portraits close up, in pen, ink and watercolour crayon. The artist’s other interests include abstract expressionistic and landscape painting, surfing and football. Alvar Sirlin has contributed to our Spring / Summer 2015 issue, which is available for purchase here.
Your work is very graphic. Where do you derive your inspiration?
Patterns and explosions; light, intimate spaces and different atmospheric effects along with literature, messy nature, guts and stuff often inspire my work. I always felt like I want my paintings to look like bloody organs and guts showing rapid and various types of consciousness.
Within your work you create a personality to the character. Is this something you intend to do or is it natural within the process?It’s a by-product of the process, but at the same time it’s the goal. There’s little use for a lifeless, expressionless portrait. A lot of drawings go in the trash heap if they don’t feel alive.
Have you always used this style within illustration?
Sort of. The process, intention and focus have mostly stayed the same, but the outcome is unpredictable. It’s very fast and improvisatory and part of the fun is not knowing what to expect.
Do you have fun whilst creating your work? It does seems so.
Sometimes. Like any skill, it takes a lot of overcoming resistance, but there are pockets of great joy and ecstasy. Usually, if I’m having too much fun, listening to music and what not, the drawing is not as good.
What mediums do you use majorly?
Pen and ink, usually with a nib flexible enough to get a variety of marks. And, as I’ve said, I like to have fun with watercolour crayons. They can be very playful.