For several years Swedish concept artist and illustrator Simon Stålenhag has been working on a series of digital images that, though initially just fanciful works done for practice or his own amusement, gradually evolved a common theme.
The images portray somewhat dystopian times involving futuristic machinery, slightly retro vehicles and suggestions of gleaming cities… and, oh yes, dinosaurs.
There is now something of a backstory, created after the fact, that you can read in a brief English translation as part of this article from Wired.
What struck me, aside from my usual fondness for sci-fi themed concept art and dinosaurs, was the wonderful painterly quality Stålenhag has achieved in his digital paintings, along with his beautifully naturalistic evocation of the Swedish landscape against which his imaginings are set.
Stålenhag artfully uses his digital tools to achieve a look similar to gouache, with its characteristic matte finish, but with lots of painterly touches (putting me in mind of some of the earliest images I saw back in the mid-90s that impressed me with the potential of digital painting: the “digital gouache” paintings of Nancy Stahl).
There is an interview with Stålenhag on Abduzeedo that delves a bit into his process. Stålenhag mentions his early inspiration for pursuing concept art in seeing the work of industry greats Syd Mead and Ralph McQuarrie.
I can’t find much in the way of Stålenhag’s professional work, but there lots of his personal pieces from this series on his website, along with a number of detail crops that show to advantage his digital painting style.
His “sketchbook” is a Tumblog that also informally acts as a blog. He also has prints available on RedBubble.
[Suggestions(s) courtesy of James Gurney and Ian McQue]
3 Replies to “Simon Stålenhag”
I was not aware of this illustrator, I`m ashamed to say, but this is great stuff ! I like the odd juxtaposition of the everyday normal with the yet to be, and as you say, the digital ‘ paint style is pretty perfect.
Thanks for the links also – onward !
I have to agree with Brian here–I love the way Stålenhag combines the seemingly mundane with the science fictional.
These are fantastic! They really ramp up my imagination into overdrive and I am amazed at how much it looks like actual gouache. Usually digital stuff still looks digital even when its trying to look like paint but not here!
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