I don’t sketch. I don’t doodle. I only do finished pieces.
We recently interrupted illustrator Sine Jensen amid a new project for Soulland to have a chat about pencils, freakouts and lolcats.
What would you do if you lost your pencil sharpener?
I only use my 0.3 mechanical pencil, so I’m pretty much invincible in the pencil department. Well, I sometimes run out of lead. Those days are the worst.
There’s quite a big wave of lead drawings right now. Are you leading, following or just on the same path?
It’s all I can do really. It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since I figured out as a teenager that I liked making naturalistic drawings. If you do something long enough it’s bound to get popular at some point. When the wave has passed, I will probably still be hunched over my light box with my pencil and eraser getting more and more nearsighted as the years pass.
I have had brief affairs with other methods such as acrylic painting and collage over the years, but I always seem to find my way back to the lead drawings. It’s been many years since I last strayed.
Tell us about lol cats.
As early as the 1870s, British portrait photographer Harry Pointer created a carte de visite series featuring cats posed in various situations. To these he usually added amusing text intended to further enhance their appeal.
Continuing this fine tradition I have made a selection of the best Lolcats the internet has to offer together with the talented guys from Ironflag and made them into detailed handmade drawings now available as postcards. We are taking the internet phenomenon to a whole new level – away from the screen and into the real world! Right now we are also making t-shirts and cups.
Can’t you get sued for that stuff?
The beautiful thing about lolcats is that no one can really claim ownership. There are a few trademarked cats such as the infamous ‘Grumpy Cat’, where the cat has a manager and is making tv appearances, but most of the time you have some crazy cat lady somewhere in the world putting up pictures of her cats that some college kid happens to stumble upon. The kid then applies a funny text and shares what is now a meme on 4chan or some other internet community where it can get picked up and altered by anyone. So already at this point you can question who has the rights to the meme.
Then somewhere along the line we come along and pick it out from the millions of funny cat pictures and turn it into a drawing. Basically we don’t really know who could even sue us in this case, but if we by chance should happen to use one of the trademarked cats, I guess we could get in trouble.
All the attention I pay to detail in my drawings, I could never muster when it came to graphic design.
What’s the weirdest brief you’ve ever got from a client?
I’m often called into meetings with potential clients who have seen my drawings and really like my style, but then ask me to do something completely different. It always takes me by surprise whenever someone asks me to do sketch like drawings or caricatures or whatever after having seen what I usually do.
Most of your stuff I google myself to is illustration. What’s going on with your graphic design?
I spent almost five years at the Design School doing graphic design, but as it turns out I’m not very good at it. I’m alright, but I just don’t care enough about spacing and kerning to ever become really good. All the attention I pay to detail in my drawings, I could never muster when it came to graphic design. I was much more concerned with the artwork than with the layout.
I have been sharing an office with the graphic design studio Ironflag for the past three years and they really convinced me to go back to drawing. I’m much happier drawing than I ever was doing graphic design, I was just never satisfied with the result, which luckily is not the case with my illustrations.
Do some clients still think illustrations should be free?
I’d say it’s about half. But I mean, I think it’s fun to draw, so who needs to get paid, right?
What’s the most difficult part in the process of drawing something substantial and detailed?
To me it’s not really doing the drawing that’s the problem, it’s picking the subject matter. I can easily do a drawing that looks nice, but that doesn’t really cut it for me anymore. There has to be something more, it has to be funny. I figured out some time ago that it’s essential for me to do work with a humorous and often ironic angle to it.
I usually pick subjects that revolve around popular culture since it has been such an ingrained part of growing up for me, and I like to work with characters and images that have somehow played a part in shaping my own humour which is so very important to me and the way I work. That is essentially what my Prank Call drawings are trying to encapsulate.
If you were to freak out, art-wise, what would the result look like?
When I attended the design school one of the teachers was always very insistent that we use ink and matches to draw with, so that we couldn’t really control the outcome. She really loved everything coincidental and random, and I almost got a panic attack from that exercise. I think that was a fine example of me trying to freak out art-wise and the results were terrible to say the least.
I hate to admit it, but I’m a terrible control freak when it comes to my work. I don’t sketch. I don’t doodle. I only do finished pieces. Some might consider that to be a tiny bit anal.
I couldn’t draw a stick figure if someone put a gun to my head. What’s your weakness?
Well, I couldn’t draw a stick figure if someone put a gun to my head either. I guess my weakness is that I can’t really make myself deviate to much from the way I’ve chosen to work. Like I said, I don’t sketch. I just can’t make myself do it.
Stick figures are just so ugly. But this means, of course, that I need at least an hour or so to do anything because it has to look good. I guess I will never make it big in the advertising business or anywhere else that depends on fast storyboarding. I guess I’m just going to have to learn to live with that.
What do you spend your procrastination time on?
Clever thing really, turning lolcats into work. That means I’ve reduced my procrastination time by at least eighty percent. The remaining twenty percent is used on loldogs.
Does listening to music influence the outcome of a your work?
It can definitely make my workflow a lot better. If I’m not listening to music I have a tendency too linger to long at every detail, prolonging the process without it having any real effect on the outcome. Listening to music often makes me forget what I’m doing, and all of a sudden I’ll have finished the drawing leaving me with the sensation of not really having done it myself. This always seems to surprise me.