Erik Johansson is a well-known photographer and retoucher from Sweden based in Berlin, Germany. He doesn’t capture moments, he capture ideas. He uses photography as a way of collecting material that will help him realize the ideas in his mind with a problem solving approach. His photo manipulation projects are highly appreciated across the world and gone viral all over the internet. Let us get to know him more and his journey to success as we go through with him in this interview.
You are well known for your photo manipulation projects. They are all beyond incredible and mind blowing. My question is, how creative your mind is in doing such thing?
That is the hardest question to answer. I’ve always had an interest in expressing myself visually. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid but I also had a big interest in computers. When I turned 15 I could finally combine those two interests as I got my first digital camera. I just started changing photos and that is how it started. To me it’s important to make it look realistic and to achieve that it requires a lot of problemsolving. I constantly ask myself “what would this look like if it would have been photographed?”
There are few artists who set you as an inspiration of their artworks. How does it feel to be adored and followed by some people? And what makes you different from the few artists who make artworks similar to yours?
I’m very grateful that people appreciate my work, I didn’t start with this to build a career but just to make the ideas in my mind come to life. I hope to inspire others just like I get inspired by people as well. I think it’s great with diversity and that nowadays cameras and programs are so cheap, the tools should not be in the way of creativity. To see people making similar work to mine is just fun to see and it also makes me push myself harder to become better.
You said you are a photographer and a retoucher. But for you, which weighs more that mirrors to the real you? Is it being a photographer or a retoucher? Why?
To me that is the exact same thing, it’s just two parts of one process. I could never imagine just shooting the photos and let someone else do the retouching, photoshop is the darkroom and that is where you set the style and mood. In the same way I don’t like retouching existing images, the material is very important to create a realistic result. I see the photography part of the process as material collection, then I create my photograph in photoshop.
Your photo manipulation skills are very superb. Is there anything else you want to learn or to improve despite the extraordinary skills you already have? If so, what are these things and why?
For every image I work with I actually learn something new, just small things normally but still ways to improve and become better. I’m a perfectionist and there are always ways to improve and I think it will always be like that.
Is there a time in your life that you want to give up as an artist? If so, what is it? And how did you overcome it?
When I finished school and actually wanted to try to do photography / retouching full time it was pretty hard in the beginning. Having no other income I took the jobs I could get even-though it wasn’t always the kind of job I wanted and normally more retouching than photographing. But I just kept on working, kept my expenses low and managed to get more and more work over time. Photography can be hard, there is a lot of competition but try to find something that makes your work different and work day and night to get there. There are no shortcuts.
Did you ever expect or hope that your artworks will be known across the world? Is fame important to you? Why or why not?
I want to believe that I would still create these images even if no one would see them but I don’t think that is entirely true. Fame is not important but I love getting feedback on my work, that is also a great way to improve with the techniques. I never really tried to actively spread my work, internet just does it for me.
I love all of your artworks; all of them are so breathtaking. So, for you, what is your most favorite artwork that you have done and why?
As a perfectionist that constantly try to become better it’s actually quite hard for me to look at my old work, it’s always small things that I think that I could have done better or different, so to me the best image is always the next one.
Who would you be now if you are not Erik Johansson, the famous retoucher from Sweden? Why?
I studied computer engineering and have a master in interaction design. I still really enjoy working with computers and how we interact with them, maybe I would be a UX designer or something between computers and design.
More about Erik Johannson
Growing up on the Swedish countryside had a big impact on Erik’s visual style. A lot of the environments in his photos are captured near places he know, around his parents’ home with wide open landscapes and small red houses. For him, Inspiration is everywhere and what you can imagine is what you can create. See more of Erik’s amazing works on his Behance profile or website.