Moa Wallin is a freelance artist and illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. Her detailed and imaginative paintings walk the line between the alien and the adorable, occasionally tipping over to either side. This can easily be seen in her recent work illustrating the cover for Jayde Ver Elst’s sci-fi comedy adventure novella, Usu. Her rich landscapes and creatures are equal parts adorable and mysterious, evoking a uniquely surreal fantasy world. She was kind enough to share some time for an interview for the recent release of Usu, so read on below, and also explore a small gallery of her amazing work.
Intervew with Moa Wallin
What made you decide to pursue art as a profession or hobby?
It sort of just happened. I’ve been told I’m good at drawing my whole life. I feel like my surroundings have always pushed me in that direction. I used to find it annoying, and didn’t think that was what I’d end up doing at all.
When I was around 17 I dropped out of school for various reasons. Once my head was no longer occupied with studies and awkward teenage social situations, my interest in drawing and painting grew stronger than ever. I looked at a lot of art on the internet, and became intensely focused on improving my skills. Somewhere along the line people started offering me money to paint for them. Now, seven years later, this is apparently my job. Weird.
It didn’t feel much like a choice, but I’m very happy this is where I ended up.
What is your schooling/training?
Self taught. I tend to lose my motivation when I don’t have full control over my own learning process, so I’ve always been afraid that taking art classes might take the joy out of it for me.
Can you describe your process?
My process is always evolving, but usually I start by getting out a basic composition and color theme for the painting. I avoid adding too many details before I feel like there’s a good balance between the various elements in the picture. Errors in these areas can be a real pain to correct at a later stage.
Once I start detailing it all gets pretty chaotic, and things tend to change a lot before I’m finished.
You generally work digitally; simple convenience or are there more reasons for choosing it over traditional mediums?
Mostly convenience. It’s great when doing work for clients, since it’s easier to make changes along the way. I like that it doesn’t require as much preparation, it’s easier to be spontaneous. It also allows for more experimentation without the risk of ruining the whole painting, so I feel like I learn faster.
Doing more traditional painting is always on my mental to-do list, though.
Most of your pieces depict complete scenes in fantasy settings; is there a story in mind before you begin work, or does that come after you have finished a painting?
I rarely start out with a story in mind. Usually several different ones pop up in my head while I work on a painting. I don’t really decide what it’s about until it’s completely finished.
Sometimes I show the finished painting to other people and ask them what they think is going on in it, and sometimes their interpretation is way more interesting than what I originally had in mind. That’s always fun!
Is there an author/band/franchise/company you would like to create art for?
Not really anything in particular. Any project that sparks my imagination and pushes it in an interesting direction.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m not much of a long term planner, so basically to keep doing what I’m doing and seeing where I’ll end up. Improving my skills and expanding out of my comfort zones. I really enjoy working with books though, so I’ll probably try to steer in that direction.
Lastly, and most importantly, why snails?
Snails are just the most amazing animals. Just look at them! They are like cute and friendly little aliens. They’re thoroughly good natured. They literally don’t have a single bad bone in their bodies.
I actually have a few giant African snails as pets. Looking at them just soothes me. They make the weirdest facial expressions, and they give really good advice.
It’s my sincere and unwavering belief that no home is complete without a snail or two.
Explore Moa’s work at: