Karin Knutsson

Can you name some of your major influences?

Egon Schiele is the first that comes to mind. I discovered his work by accident during a trip to Amsterdam, where there was an exhibit of his work in the Van Gogh museum. He is so good at making you see beauty in the uncomfortable. It is a huge compliment to hear my lines are similar to the lines of Schiele.

One of the artworks that had the biggest impact on me personally was the last supper. I was never religious and before I saw it in person I had not thought of it as something particularly interesting. When I stood in front of it something very strange happened. The way they were painted, it looked like Jesus and his disciples were right there in front of me! It was done in such a masterful way. You could see that it was painted and at the same time you got the feeling it was real. Suddenly my legs got weak and I ended up on the floor. The staff looked at me like I was another religious nut. It was not a spiritual moment, it was more like a strong feeling of awe that a human being can accomplish something like that.

Is there one particular work you are most proud of?

What I am proud of or not so proud of changes with time so it is difficult to answer this question. When I look at drawings I made some years ago I can still feel proud but I also feel like I was making mistakes back then that I would not make today. There is one piece that I made in art school which I still feel so proud of that there is nothing I would change! It is a diorama made of an old TV. The scene is a landscape on another planet. There are some astronauts that are attempting to raise the flag of the United States and at the same time they are about to be attacked by giant beetles.

What made you move to Berlin?

Before Berlin I was living in Stockholm, which is a very competitive city. There I always felt discouraged from a career in the arts because it seemed like you had to be so good at everything to get anywhere. Not just good at what you do but also be good looking, well dressed, have the right family background and the right connections. At the time I felt like I had achieved none of those things and I was so far from it that I might as well give up.

The first time I came to Berlin I saw people sitting in their own little shops surrounded by piles of fabric, sewing clothes by hand. They might not have been making clothes that were very fashionable or well made but they kept doing it anyways. The important thing was to give it a shot, not to be perfect. I experienced a freedom of expression I had not seen anywhere else. It felt like coming home so I knew I had to make it my home.

Where does your obsession with birds come from?

Hard to explain, it has been there for so long! As a child I was spending most summer days on the beach. Not a beach as in a sandy shore with hot sunny weather and lots of people. It was a small, rocky beach, on an island in the sea in north Sweden. I was too young to realize how cold the sea was. There was not much people around but there were a lot of birds. I would look them up in this big book of birds we had in our summer cabin, learn their names and carefully study their shape, colors and patterns. I was so fascinated by them I wanted to know everything about them.

Once in a life drawing class the teacher was complaining that I should stop trying to draw humans that looked like birds. It was impossible, I could not help it. It was something that just happened.

Did you ever want to do something else with your life?

For sure! As a teenager I wanted to be a film maker. I got accepted to film school but changed my mind. For a long time it was a big regret in my life. When I think about it I would not have been a good film director because I hate telling people what to do. Working with animation is a way of going back to this topic by using drawing, which is something I am much better at.

To see more of her works, visit Karin on Instagram.