Animator, illustrator, director, artist, musician, clay sculptor and so on.. We had the delightful opportunity to sit down and chat with one of Looom's early adopters Kristofer Ström.
IO: We would love for you to start by giving us a short background about yourself.
KS: I’m a 44 year old bearded bald man with wife, three kids a dog and two cats. Live in a house in southern Sweden. I’ve pretty much always been creating in some form or another, art and music. Grew up in a family with all kinds of creative skills. I did some flip book animations and small stuff in the edges of the school books. Other than that I didn't get into animation until I was around 18 I think.
IO: what do you do for a living?
KS: When the dot-com bubble burst we got bought by a bigger company and everything we did was so damn boring and uninspiring. So I started my own business and worked mainly as an illustrator/art-director. One sunny day a friend asked me if I was interested in doing a music video for his friends techno duo Minilogue. The brief was, do anything you like but try including some of our animals in it.
Grab release repeat (2021)
Eat or be eaten or just be nice (2020)
I had just bought a crappy videocamera and started filming while I did some sketches on a whiteboard. I did some speed up drawing and thought it looked nice. So, I started experimenting with stop-motion. Took a while but it was well worth time spent experimenting and just having fun. It became a Youtube hit (it was the beginning of YouTube so getting around 50.000 views in a week was somewhat considered a hit).
Long story short, from there I became a director at Blink ink in London, made some really fun commercials and music videos. Stared a company with some friends called Varelsen which we had for around 12 years and late 2020 we got recruited by Gullers, a big Swedish communication agency where I now work as a lead animator etc. I’m also still repped by another company called The Chapel together with some amazing talents.
Where was I…sorry, got lost in the memory lane.
IO: how do you split your time between work and play?
KS: I do have too little time left for play but I must play. I love creating stuff with my kids and friends but I must have time by myself where I just get to play. Whether it’s music, animation, illustrator, clay or some other creative process. I’m lucky to have my own little house/studio just beside our main house. Not every night but some nights when everybody’s asleep and the dog has taken me for an
energizing walk, I lock myself in the studio and try to just create something. I love experimenting and just improvising from the smallest of ideas.
Sometimes, something inspiring comes out of it and I continue working on that when I get some spare time. Mostly its more like my kind of meditation. If I’m not making music or sounds I must listen to some. And being able to have it pretty loud keeps me going.
The Feeling Right Before You Launch (2008)
IO: Through your animations, we feel this merging of organic and mechanical themes. Would love to hear what is under that and also if you played a lot of t.i.m as a kid?
KS: Actually had to google t.i.m to understand what you meant and now I understand why you might think so, but no. I made music and and did some early exploration in pixel animation on my Atari 520 ST. I used the software Degas Elite and since you couldn’t really animate in it I had to place my tiny fingers on the numpads and flip through the frames that way. If I remember it correctly I expanded my RAM so that I could have EIGHT frames instead of just four!
IO: Looking at your IG page, you have a huge stream of illustrations and then suddenly incredible animations made with Looom. We are not trying to pat ourselves on the back but wondering what went down there and how come we don't see animations before that?
KS: When I started posting my illustrations on my instagram account. I was determined to only post illustrations made on my iPhone and nothing else. Then one day I had a complete loss of belief in myself and the stuff I posted. Took a break from it, came back, took a break again. When your App appeared in my feed and I was mind blown. I’ve animated a lot in Flash (now Adobe Animate) and love loops. Looom really got me inspired, I felt I had to start posting something again, breaking my ”only illustrations rule”.
IO: How much do you improvise vs plan while animating?
KS: 99% improvisation and that 1% is when I have an idea for frame one, then after that it’s pretty much all improv. I think the magic and what inspires me the most is getting that AHA feeling when creating. Wether it’s illustration, animation or playing music. I love to add stuff and details that then generate new ideas, I could continue forever just adding and adding.
IO: What was the first software you used for animating?
KS: Expert from Degas Elite, back in the day I think it was early version of photoshop + macromedia director. However, it was macromedia flash that really got me into frame by frame animation.
IO: Favourite cartoon as a kid?
KS: Well, we didn’t have a VHS player or a lot of tv channels. In Sweden kids didn’t really get a lot of animation on public service TV But we did have ”anslagstavlan” with an animated intro. ”solfilmen” That got us kids screaming ”hey, it’s animation on TV!!!”
The animation that really had me inspired was Liquid Television. Especially Aeon Flux, and Bill Plympton. Many years later two of my animated music videos were aired on Liquid Television’s ”off the air”- life goal achieved!
Change the way you look at things (2020)
IO: So whats next for you Kristofer?
KS: Except from trying to shape my kids into becoming the next generation of creative specimen. My oldest daughter just showed me a snipped of her new animation sketches. It’s short stories of being a teenager and I really do hope she finishes it because it looks amazing. Otherwise, I work full time as an animator/illustrator/director with some audio and music on top. I’m trying to stay creative in as many ways as I can. During Christmas holidays I continued to create more clay characters to fill that ever-growing army of creatures.
Keep in touch with Kristofer and his work:ljudbilden.comTwitterInstagram