Jika Edström

Artist in Focus

My name is Jika Edström and I am a half Swedish/English illustrator based in Brighton/Leeds in the UK. At the moment I am finishing my bachelor'ss degree in Philosophy at the University of Leeds, planning to move to Tokyo or Copenhagen (very different I know) next summer.
My path into the arts and illustration definitely has not been the standard of going to art school etc. I was never confident in my artistic work and was always pushed into academia, being convinced this was the only pathway for a stable career and future. I have always drawn sketches and doodles since I can remember, however, I never took it any further.
Ikigai:
Something you are good at,
Something that you love,
What the world needs,
and, what you can be paid for.
The period in which I realised this was something I genuinely could pursue was about a year and a half ago. Illustration is something I have always loved, I have forever admired comic art and anime, the amount of detail in every shot/scene is what can really make something special. So, last year I moved to Osaka, Japan and my world changed entirely! The amount of inspiration that hit me as soon as I got off the plane was overwhelming. The beauty of the country was phenomenal, both the industrial and natural elements. The history is so interesting, and culture so different to my own. One thing that really struck me was the dedication people had in pursuing their dreams and working hard. I learnt a lot about the Japanese notion of 'Ikigai' this being a concept that argues to have a long and happy life, one must find their ikigai:

Something you are good at,
Something that you love,
What the world needs,
and, what you can be paid for.

It is during my time in Japan that I really found my Ikigai, it was illustration!! The contents of my drawings started out as kind of creepy looking women, very Tim Burton-esque. I have always LOVED Tim Burton and the gothic genre, he is a huge inspiration for me. He really sheds light on how supposedly scary things, like monsters and ghosts, are not scary at all, they are harmless. For example, films of his like Dark Shadows, Beetlejuice and the Nightmare Before Christmas all show this! (Actually, I think every single one of his films do)
My first big illustration project was a Comic book I made called 'Cosmic Sounds', the main characters are loosely based on my father and I, the story tries to explain philosophical concepts in a simpler way with reference to music. I love both music and philosophy, hence my degree, so thought what better way to combine the two and help reiterate complex philosophical theories in a more accessible way with relation to musicians that people might know and love.

The first lockdown was a difficult time, but the silver lining for me was my ability to focus on my art. I spend almost every hour of the day just drawing! (I watched a lot of movies and played lots of video games for inspiration too). During this time my style really developed and flourished. I take pride in the detail that goes in to every piece and commission I made, integrating so many specific details for the viewer to pick out and relate to.

I have been raised by a very feminist father in a very forward-thinking town (thank god!) and these perspectives really manifest in my work. I particularly love to portray women in their natural habitat, completely unfiltered, being ugly is what makes them beautiful (hence the Instagram username @ugly_ladies ). I want people to spend time looking at every detail of a drawing I make. I often get people commenting on how they could spend hours looking at one of my pieces, and this is exactly the kind of reaction I intend!

I have always been drawn towards bright emotive colours, lots of pinks, oranges, teals, illustrating the deep romance and indulgence. My work either has to ooze with colour, or, if it is one of my more gothic sketchy pieces I like to stick with black and white and maybe another bold colour.

My upcoming dissertation will be on feminist philosophy, discussing whether sex is binary, a hugely interesting topic which is so overlooked. I am looking forward to producing a piece that will align with my final dissertation and hopefully embody the arguments in some kind of way.

C O N T A C T

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