Fun Photography and Drawing Up for a Better World. Interview with the artist Frits Ahlefeldt. Enjoy his amazing artwork, Yareah magazine friends.
Q.- Hi, Frits, tell us something about your life. Usually, it’s interesting to know the background of an artist to understand his goals.
Great that you like to interview me about my art
As an artist I am most fascinated by people, how they thrive, move through life and how we alter the world around us by making trails, both metaphorical ones inside our heads, as we move along what we can understand, and real trails out in the landscapes as we create them through walking. I try to understand this “double reality” and make drawings of it along the way.
Most of my artworks I do under my “HikingArtist.com” name and on Facebook I’ve written my mission as: “Working to reconnect storytelling to the landscapes”. Big words and I wrote it, not because I think I am great at it, but because I think it is very, very important to do this.
I think there is no doubt anymore that we have created a deep gap between us and our surroundings, especially to nature and the rest of the species we share this planet with, and I believe art might be one of our best chances to heal this gap.
Most of my time I do drawings, where I create images and sometimes words to the stories I see, hear and research. ( I read a lot of non-fiction books)
In my drawings I use metaphors a lot, and then sometimes I give up and just do classic watercolors, just to stop thinking and enjoy the mind blowing world we live in.
I live in Copenhagen, drifting from place to place, and are closing in on my fifty years birthday in, think it must be 3-4 years.
Q.- And how about your training? Are you a full-time illustrator?
I always admired the illustrators and their amazing abilities to draw up reality, but I have to admit I never really felt like classifying as one of them. Most of them learned their skills on design schools, where they are prepared and trained in all the fine and difficult traditions of illustration, like magazine drawing, posters, graphic design, book illustration and fashion.
I get most of my inspiration from reading non-fiction books on things like psychology, thrive, business, ecology and biology, and it just transforms itself in my head to images in a strange way.
I learned drawing from sketching people and places, walking the streets, and hanging out on public benches in Copenhagen, with an old beaten up woodbox. Selling drawings, and homemade prints of my drawings and watercolors for a living.
Sometimes I went for longer walks, hiking with my sketch and notebook. And from time to time I’ve been walking trails like the Camino de Santiago around Europe and other places for many years.
Have to admit, I have also been shaped a lot, as an artist, from my 10 years on the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, where I studied architecture and tried to develop a way to dream up eco-places for a better world. I left after failing my final exam in year 2000.
What I learned from the streets is maybe what have inspired me most, as all kinds of characters would drift pass my bench and wooden box and share their stories with me. Stories that I love, because there are so many different people, stories and ways of looking at life and reality.
I try to combine these stories from the streets with what I learned about places, ecology, spaces, time, framing, thrive, storytelling, philosophy and landscapes, both on the Royal Academy of Fine Art, but also later, from The Danish IT-university, where I studied digital design, communication and media for another 6 years afterwards, to understand the new emerging digital landscape. (and finally graduated with a Cand.IT degree – in digital communication in 2006)
Q.- Is it difficult the life of artist now days?
Sometimes I still wake up in the morning and think I found out how to live from it, but it is one long strange experiment and I still can’t say I know much more than that I really want to put my drawings forward and try to make a difference. I think what has changed lately is that I get better and better at just doing my best one day at a time.
Q.- Which techniques do you use, explain us a little about them?
I mostly use tools like pencils and brushes, paper, ink and watercolors. Strange to think that I might be one of the last ones that was taught to draw before anything else was an option and the whole reality went digital.
Maybe that is also why I often work outdoors, as I love the way the weather and the sun influence the result, how fast the colors dry and how the wind or people passing by can suddenly tear me and my paper out of what I was trying to accomplish.
Q.- Can you define art in few sentences?
That is difficult, as an artist I started out kind of slow and it took me almost 15 years to even start to call myself an artist, as I have an enormous respect for what an artist do, and just to grasp it is difficult for me, even though I’ve been working with it full time for around 20 years.
But I think I would like my art to be more about what doing and less about results.
One of the things that fascinate me are nomads and how the results of their art is often left behind, while they only bring the art-experiences on with them, integrating it as part of their identity in their storytelling.
I think the digital world again make this possible today and I’d like to explore this direction in the future.
Q.- Your drawings are full of sense of humor, which are your source of inspiration?
I think humor is something very important, and very strange. A good feeling all the way down to ones feet, where you end up laughing, getting new energy, smiling and lighten up,as you start to see things different, even if you don’t want to. And considering how strange, dark and out of reach our future sometimes seems to be, I think that might be why I like humor a lot.
Q.- Next projects?
I have been circling around the same projects for many years: drawing up a better world. get closer to what make people thrive and how to connect us back to the landscapes through drawing up trails of different understandings.
I want to push those projects much further, with new experiments and ways to present my work and thoughts, both in drawings, but also in other ways, using digital media and live performances.
You can follow me as I update my HikingArtist.com website with the new projects as soon as I get them ready.