Jeff Östberg is a freelance illustrator currently living and working in Stockholm, Sweden. His clients include HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Vogue, Apple, The New Yorker, and Airbnb. Here he talks us through his working process.
I was born in 1988 in a town called Kramfors in the northern parts of Sweden. It's a very small town so I spent a lot of my time drawing from a young age and I think growing up in a town like that has been important for my process. After college I moved to Stockholm to keep studying art and started with two preparing art schools followed by three years at Konstfack University of Art, Crafts & Design where I did a BA in Graphic Design & Illustration and graduated in 2013. Thereafter I had a year where I did a lot of music which I also love, went broke and started working in a store I hated so I kept building up my portfolio and webpage and some time after launching my page and posting stuff on Behance things started to move. Since then I've been working full-time illustrating.
Depending on if I'm working from my studio or on the road I have two different Wacoms, one is a small Bamboo tablet that I won a long time ago in a Swedish fashion magazine called Bon and if I'm at home in my studio I mostly use my 27QHD Wacom Cintiq that I bought two years ago. But yeah, it varies and sometimes when I've been away from home using my small tablet I kind of get used to working on it and keep using it until I start working on a file that's so big my laptop can't stand it. They both have their pros and cons but it's nice to know I can be flexible and bring the work with me if I'm out travelling. My girlfriend that I met this summer lives in New York and I'm going there in November for a month and a half, so I'm really excited about how it will be to work and get inspired over there.
When I have commissioned work I tend to work almost only digitally since it often involves a lot of requests and changes from clients. I've been missing working in a more analog way though so I'm planning to start working on some self initiated works now, as a passion project and an outlet for my personal ideas. When I do work with analog techniques I enjoy working with gouache, acrylics and felt pens mostly, I have been working with a range of different mediums during the years but I feel these work the best with my process and the aesthetics I like.
I've been working on a lot of fun projects so it's really hard to pick a favorite but to mention a few, I really love working with New Yorker Magazine, Airbnb and a few editorial illustrations that I did for Sneakers Magazine a few months ago.
I've always been into fashion and sneaker culture so working with themes like that is really inspiring, so it naturally generates great work. I think the best projects and jobs are the ones working with clients that give you freedom, and these clients mentioned above are an example of when the process has been the way it should be. I've had a few really annoying experiences as well when nothing has been working out and clients who've given me so many adjustments and directives that it has ruined the whole vibe. But the good thing with these clients is that I'm better now on knowing when to say no.
It's been a few amazing years although I was close to burning out last summer, but it made me think about what to avoid and how to structure things in a better way. I have made progress in balancing work and personal projects, and right now I have a lot of new ideas and projects planned.
Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.