Interview with comic artist Bim Eriksson

Bim Eriksson; Comic artist, creator and feminist. Through her illustrations she expresses the things most people don’t even dare to talk about.

In my opinion she’s a super woman. That’s why I was so happy to meet with her at her studio and talk about the release of her first book.

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As a huge fan of your work I’ve been waiting for your first book release. What took you so long?
— Well, it’s hard to say… I’m not educated as a comic artist. I have taken some classes in Denmark but I haven’t attended for example the comic school in Malmö, that so many other comic artists have. I come from a graphic design background but I never thought that I would become a comic artist. I think it’s my urge of telling stories that made me chose this way of self expression.

— The Make Equal foundation had a competition to which I entered with the idea of making a book. A book where my comics would take place. Imagine my surprise when I actually won! So I got a scholarship and a mentor from the foundation. It was then the whole thing really became real to me; “I now have to make a book!” My drawings would not just be for myself anymore. There was now a larger audience who waited for my release.

Instagram is a great feminist platform!!

The big why?
— I wanted to reach those who don’t read the news every day. I wanted to reach out to young girls who feel that they’re not represented in politics. So I started posting pictures on Instagram, and let my comics tell things that had happened to me and my friends and also things that I react to and think about in my everyday life. Instagram is a great feminist platform!! So that was where it all started.

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Bim says that most of her stories are personal experiences from her and her friends, mixed with political statements. She also explains to me that some people criticise her comics and think they are too provocative. That they encourage young women to talk about their bodies and speak up for their opinions, like it’s a bad thing.

— I’m just telling the truth. It’s nothing girls should be ashamed about. Our society is political, and that’s why my comics are too, Bim continues.

 

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Please tell me a bit about the book.
The book became a bit like a collection of short stories with varying numbers of pages per story. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of them are autobiographical or stories my friends have told me and shared with me. Many of the illustrations are often created out of frustration. Maybe something have happened and I had to let off some steam in some kind of way.

Bim describes her excitement when she posts her illustrations on social medias [Instagram – Facebook]. The immediate responses in the rapid world of social medias is something that fuels her creativity.

—What I find interesting is when I post things I believe other than myself never could relate to, maybe because i thinks it’s too personal or crazy, but it’s actually in those stories that most people reflect themselves.

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Your comics are really simple and you only use markers. Is that a conscious choice?
It just came naturally. I think it is because I grew up in Botkyrka, a suburb to Stockholm, a lot of people listened to hiphop there. My parents, on the other hand, where very in to punk and prog. So you can say that I got a lot of different influences. I kind of think that Hiphop nowadays has taken over the political views that the punk had. That’s why I want my visual expression to be rough and messy. I want it to reflect my current mood. For example if I was irritated then maybe I’d do very messy and fast lines. And say, if I’ve been tired and sad I want to make the arms of my characters really long. I don’t care about proportions. Without them the comics become more interesting!

Women are always portrays as cute, nice and friendly. I want to destroy that common picture.

—I love using markers. The only things I need is just a pen and paper. I can express and draw my thoughts whenever I like. My trick is not to focus on what I am drawing — I just let my feelings be expressed trough my pen. I feel that the personal touch disappears from the drawings if they’re too polished and pretty. The black ink and white paper complete each other in a rough way. I like to draw girls with ponytails and in floral dresses but they may have a knife in their hand and look angry. That makes a contrast that you usually don’t see. Women are always portrays as cute, nice and friendly. I want to destroy that common picture.

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The cover of the book is bright yellow. Why?
When I did the drafts and sketches for the cover I chose yellow because it is a colour I really have a hard time with. I’m generally interested in things that irritate and disgust people. For me, yellow does that. A colour that stands out and doesn’t excuse itself. It’s a colour that matches the content of the book so well. I think you can use the same philosophy when you hang things on the wall. If you only hang things you like you will end up not noticing them. But If you were to put up something that kind of bothers you; it makes it more interesting and you’ll maybe start to wonder why you don’t like it → And so you start thinking — it activates you.

Bim ironically tells me that after working with the book for so long, yellow had suddenly become one of her favourite colours.

The book itself looks more like an art-book than a regular comic book. For example, if you look closely you’ll notice that the cover is filled with embossed tiny horses. Instead of black Bim has chosen purple as the colour for the comics in the book. She told me that edges of the book were also supposed to be purple but it was too hard technically to do in the printing process.

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Now when the book’s released. What are your future plans?
My next project will be to travel down to southern Sweden to portray a female glass-blowing-collective and their experimentation with glass. I’m really looking forward to that. They are really cool and strong women! 

—I’m also really interested in clothes and fashion in general. It would be cool to collaborate with a designer and maybe illustrate clothes. Fashion means so much for so many, especially for women. The society tells us that we must be concerned about how we look. But then, when we do it, we can’t just do it without getting comments or constantly being fed criticism.

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Follow Bim:

Instagram 
Facebook

All illustrations by Bim Eriksson.

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Photos by me