Interview with Andreas Wikström, First Place Awarded at the 3rd Intl. Reggae Poster Contest

Tell us how you did you find out about the International Reggae Poster Contest and what was it that attracted you to participate?
I’ve entered the contest once before, and thought: Why not? Poster design and music are two big parts of my life.

What’s it like having your work selected 1st place in the International Reggae Poster Contest 2014?
What can I say; It’s awesome. The step from being placed among the top thirty the year before, to actually winning the whole thing is amazing.


Is Reggae quite popular in the Sweden and when did you become attracted to the genre?
It’s a living and thriving community and scene indeed, with several different small and large gatherings (Öland roots and similar) all year around. I’m not that active in the community, my passion lies with the music instead. It all began sometime during my high school years and it’s been with me ever since.

Tell us a bit more about your design, what is your design philosophy and meaning behind your winning poster?
We might not share the same language, we might not live in the same country, not meet and greet the same persons everyday, but we all have something(s) we feel passionate about. Instead of arguing our differences, we should instead discuss or similarities. And I feel that music is one “tool” that unites people over a common thing. That is what I wanted to capture with my design; A wild and majestic lion that calms down and find bliss with the spirit of [reggae] music.




Your illustrations have a very organic feel, did you study fine art? Share with our readers how you developed this technique and style.
The past six years of my life I’ve been working as a freelancer, and studying; Everything from product design, sustainability, illustration, graphic design, art, to communication and advertising. Education is one thing, you learn how to focus and structure your work; You learn “how to do”. But, when you actually do, you have to fail as well. My philosophy to what ever life hits you with is “How to throw yourself into a brick wall smiling”. This “organic feel” to my work have grown from years of failing, but also doing the same thing over and over again.

How do you approach a design such as the winning piece?
As said, head first. I always start with a millions ideas which I later try to compress into one single idea; That’s the creative challenge. If you can find one idea that is worth keeping among a thousand others, then you’ve found something great. And to find this special idea, all you have to do is create over and over again; As said, don’t be afraid of failing. After a while of spitting out random ideas, you will start to see a pattern; A subtle one, which you later strip down to it’s core, and that’s when you know you’ve found your goal. Which programs and type of techniques you use is irrelevant, as long as you produce, you’ll find a way how to do it.


Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
A creative process that is based on failing includes slumps. And when they do happen, all you really can do is ride the wave. Sure, you panic and get stressed; This too shall pass. I gather inspiration from three things in life; Movies, music and nature. So when a wave of slumps hit me, I just go to these three and reset.

Is there any particular artist or illustrator that inspires you?
The most inspiring work you can do as an artist is to let your passion flow through your work. Execution doesn’t really matter in the long run, it’s just momentary, but when you manage to show the audience how much you love what you do, you’ve got yourself a winner. One designer who does this, and does it really
well is James Victore. He knows what he likes, wants and creates exactly that. Same goes with the filmmaker
Casey Neistat.



When did you get you first break as Graphic Designer?
Don’t know about my first break; But I remember the first time in my life that I felt secure and positive of that this is what I want to do with my life. In 2012 I did this poster and tshirt for Threadless, and Al Gore’s Climate Reality. I was invited to take part in the 24 hour livestream from New York. I remember sitting in my hotel room, just met with Al Gore, and was about to head out to the after party with the backstage crew and organizers. I hadn’t slept in more than 48hours, I was beaten down and tired, but it still felt right. That’s when I knew.


What is your first experience in poster design?
My first FIRST experience was in fourth grade; Me and a couple of classmates of mine had been assigned the task of making the poster for our schools big spring bake-sale. I can still remember the joy of having something you’ve made being printed out in large scale format and plastered all over the school and parts of the town. It still amazes me to see (and feel) something I’ve made “in real life”.

In your opinion, what makes a good (poster) design?
One word: Flow. You have to make sure that your poster can be “read”, even if it’s only an illustration. If the poster contains any stop in the readability, then you’ve lost the reader and the poster have all been for nothing.


What are you working on now?
Mostly paid client work, a few illustrations, icons for different apps and similar. I’m also starting up a book project that I’ve been planning since… well, forever.

What would you like to see as a career benefit coming out of wining this International design contest?
I have a love/hate-relationship with this word, but “exposure”. Not a “I’m going to be famous” kind of exposure; more on a personal level. I’ve gotten several comments and kind words about my IRPC-poster (and my work in general), and that means a lot to me. Maybe “appreciation” would be a more suiting word.

What are your thoughts on our objective to have the Reggae Hall of Fame museum built in Kingston, Jamaica?
People who create should be celebrated. And people who’ve inspired others to do the same should get a permanent place “to stay” and be displayed and continue to inspire; So what’s not to encourage about this?

Before we close, who is your favorite reggae artiste and what reggae tune gets regular play on your iTunes play list?
You can’t beat the king; Bob Marley. And if I have to pick one song, it would be Three Little Birds, because every little thing is go be alright.

Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (

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