Maia Fjord is Danish illustrator based in Bournemouth. Influenced by Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, she retains a fascination with the imagined. Additional sources of inspiration include nature, anatomy and Scandinavian folklore. Here, she guides us through her work process:

Like most people, my illustrations start with an idea, and from there it’s just a question of how to get it on paper and looking as good as it can. This idea can develop through pointless doodling, something I’ve come across that’s inspired me, or can simply pop into my brain. Lately I find that I’ve been working a lot with the concept of imagination- there’s something very appealing about the ambiguousness of it, and I like narratives in which you can’t quite tell if something is real or imagined. Unfortunately, I find that the end result of my efforts rarely looks how it did it my head, but I don’t think this is always a bad thing- maybe sometimes it even looks better than I had imagined it. After the initial idea formulates, I normally fill a couple of sketchbook pages with some incredibly messy thumbnail sketches that only I can understand, to help me pinpoint the composition and what exactly it is I want to draw.


Recently I’ve rediscovered how much I like to use pencil when I illustrate. I love how many textures you can create with a pencil, and how versatile such a simple tool can really be. After I’ve drawn something up with my trusty pencil (which can take anywhere from half an hour to half a day), I scan my creation and clean it up on Photoshop, then I start to add colour. Colour is very important to my imagery; I think a strong, limited colour palette helps to keep my illustrations playful and makes them more successful. I normally pick anywhere up to five or six colours that I think work well together, and then begin digitally colouring the scan of the original pencil drawing. I don’t think that I really have a set way that I make all my illustrations, but if I did I guess that this would sum it up for a lot of them… But then again, I also like to screen print, and that’s a completely different process!

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