Presentation: Tintin Lindkvist Nielsen on escapism, being kind to yourself and why sensitivity is not a bad thing
Originally from Sweden, Tintin Lindkvist Nielsen is an illustrator and animator who recently graduated in Communication Design from the Glasgow School of Art.
Working in all disciplines of visual communication and storytelling, she spends her time creating short animations, luminous gouache paintings, ink and loose drawings in blue, as well as sets and props for stop motion movies.
“With colors and characters, I like to create universes that resemble ours while being different,” she explains. “A lot of my work is about feelings.” Here we chat with Tintin about dealing with overwhelming thoughts, moving to the UK and developing a children’s book for his final year project.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in southern Sweden called Karlskrona. It is an idyllic summer spot, surrounded by blue ocean and boats. I was, and still am, very sensitive, and I remember struggling with feeling overly sensitive and overthinking. At this point, creation would become a kind of escape. It was a space where anything was possible, something I was good at and where overwhelming thoughts could be expressed.
How did you come to art?
I’ve always been drawn to all things creative. I have loved art for as long as I can remember. My parents don’t work in the creative industry, but they always told me to follow my passions.
Why did you choose your course and your university?
It was one of those things that happened without much thought. One thing led to another, and suddenly I was accepted into the Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design course. It was a combination of hearing good things about school and realizing it had to be before Brexit if I wanted a smooth transition to the UK.
I had a “now or never” mentality when I applied and put all my effort into getting into this school. I had already taken a basic course in Sweden studying visual communication and knew that I wanted to continue in the same field.
How was the experience?
It was like a roller coaster. I feel blessed since myself and my family are in good health, but also frustrated with the lack of access to studios for the past year and a half. Fortunately, I had two fantastic roommates during this time. We kept each other sane and collaborated on art projects together. Working from home has also meant that my work has become more digital and I have developed 2D animation skills. This time also taught me not to take anything for granted.
Coming back and using the facilities and studios again sparked a fire in me, and I wanted to make the most of this past year. But it was also overwhelming because we had to make up for all the lost time in a year.
What can you tell us about your graduation project?
My final project is a children’s book called Lollipop Tuesday, aimed at children aged three to six. The main character, a Pallas cat who owns a corner store, deals with feelings such as not believing you’re good enough. The book ends with the protagonist realizing that it’s okay to ask for help and to remember to be kind to yourself.
Above all, the sensitivity of this character allows them to help so many customers. They notice things that others miss, and they are thoughtful and genuine, which are all positive traits. The word “sensitive” has a negative connotation in our society. I want to tell children and their parents that there are also positive aspects to being sensitive.
I based the story on my feelings and experiences and an interview with the owner of a local grocery store. I told him about my idea, and he said it was amazing how he could relate to the subject and he thought I must have written the book about him. My book illustrations are traditionally painted with gouache. They are digitized and some line art has been added digitally using Procreate software.
Don’t take rejection personally. That doesn’t mean your work is bad; it may just mean it wasn’t the right choice for that specific job – but it’ll be a perfect match for something else.
Can you describe your style in your own words?
I think my style is constantly changing and evolving. I love trying new things, but what’s consistent is my use of bright colors and line art.
Who or what inspires you?
I get inspired by looking at the people, nature, homes and events around me. I usually draw the people I see and compose stories inspired by clues that can maybe tell me who they are. For example, what are they wearing? Do they look relaxed or are they in a hurry? Where are they going?
What do you hope to do with your career?
I hope my career involves projects where I’m forced to be challenged and to work with many different creative approaches. For example, painting giant murals, making a commercial stop motion video for a brand or illustrating for a children’s book author. I’d like to keep experimenting and trying new things and creating stories about topics that feel important and move people.
How do you feel about graduating in 2022?
It’s exciting that things are back to normal this year. Graduating this year meant we could have a physical degree. It’s been a long wait and I hope people are now ready and excited to build new relationships and collaborations.
It’s scary to be thrown into the world after four years in college, not knowing what’s next. I hope I can continue doing what I love. I would also like to work on the publication of my children’s book.
What advice would you give to others who would follow in your footsteps?
There’s nothing wrong with not responding when applying for a job or entering contests. There will probably be many, but I think it’s important to remember that you only need one “yes”. It’s also important not to take rejection personally. That doesn’t mean your work is bad; it may just mean it wasn’t the right choice for that specific job – but it’ll be a perfect match for something else.