Illustrators Maja K Zetterberg (text) and Siri Ahmed Backström (illustrations) are the creators behind this year’s ALMA diploma. We asked them if they could describe the process behind the making of the diploma.
What were your thoughts when you were asked to illustrate this year’s diploma?
It was a great honor to be commissioned to create a diploma for such a large and important award. Of course we were delighted! Furthermore, it was a somewhat unusual challenge for us to work together to create one single original piece. Usually, we both work with images and text to be completed in a computer and printed in a large number of copies.
Describe the preparatory creative process!
We began by discussing, doing research and having workshops together. When it comes to creating the previous ALMA diplomas, calligrapher and illustrator have been working more separately, but now, as we´re sharing the same office we were able to collaborate closely from the beginning. We learnt about PRAESA’s work and talked about what we thought was important to highlight. Siri wanted to portray the feeling of freedom and pride that comes with using your native language to read and express yourself. Maja was inspired by the reading for enjoyment and PRAESA’s work with different languages. We worked a lot with getting text and illustrations to interact without losing the feeling of exclusivity that we wanted the diploma to have.
…and what about the studio work?
We were given free hands, but were encouraged to have PRAESA’s work in mind when creating the diploma. We sketched a concept together and then worked separately with text and illustrations, constantly checking status with each other and took joint decisions on, for example, paper options. We also used the same type of pens so the words in text and illustrations are coherent in color and texture. Siri used lead and colored pens when sketching, and took the time to try a couple of variations of the illustration before the final version was completed. Maja sketched in different shapes and color of the characters and put the finishing touch which was copied by hand using a light table.
What were the most difficult and easiest parts of the work?
Well, besides that there were many decisions to be made: colors, size, paper type, layout, the most difficult thing was to make a single spotless original. Not getting the original completed in Photoshop was a little bit nerve-wrecking! The easiest part was that it was such a fun assignment, the work was so joyful and our collaboration worked so well. It felt easy when it was finished, and so wonderful to see the laureates receiving the diploma at the Concert Hall stage at the award ceremony. We think the diploma radiates joy and playfulness, something that we think PRAESA’s work stands for – we are happy with the results and hope that PRAESA is too! Link to illustrator and author Siri Ahmed Backström here Link to illustrator and designer Maja K Zetterberg here