Artist Diana Elisabeth Åström came to Sweden when she was nine months old. She was raised by her adoptive parents in a small town in the north called Skellefteå. When she finished high school, she moved to Oslo Norway and has been living there for the past eight years.
1. How did you get the idea to make paper roll art?
In the beginning, it was very impulsive, and it still is. All based on my emotions.
I grew up in an art family where both my parents were artists, but I think I’ve been feeling an unknown pressure for all my life. I’ve always loved art but I didn’t touch the pencil until I was 26 years old. Back in the day, I frequently got the question ' Do you paint? ' when my parents' friends came to visit us in our family home. The adults just called me "The little artist ", which annoyed me.
Being as insecure as I was when young, I chose to take a distance from everything in connection to the art scene. I remember myself saying ' I hate art ' several times, even though I dreamt about creating paintings as big as down from the floor up to the ceiling, colourful art in places with minimalistic architecture… I guess that’s still a dream.
Last year I bought my own apartment and finally moved out my own. I went from living together with friends, to all alone. There was suddenly that time space to be filled with what I wanted, truly wanted. So one Friday evening after a week of stress, sad feelings and some glasses of wine, I out of nothing grabbed a roll of toilet paper, thinking it could be cool to beautify… Since beauty is not what it’s known for.
Then the last couple of weeks I’d been painting abstract motifs on canvas with acrylic colors. So I did the same thing on this roll, to see how it would turn out. I had no limits, mixed and combined colours so the paper roll at the end turned into a colorful river…It was my first piece… From there I just went on with creating new small sculptures.
The sessions mostly happened whenever I felt stressed or sad. It calmed me down. I started to challenge myself with different kinds of messages and themes on the rolls.
Like putting Donald Trump on one piece I made.
2. On average, how long does it take to complete a piece?
I would say about two hours. That doesn't include the thinking time though. And I order a lot of the materials I need from Asia with takes about 14 days to arrive.
3. What do you do when you are not creating art?
I fantasize about my future. Right now I’m not exactly where I want to be in life (does anyone ever get there though?). That’s what fills the most of my mind while I’m awake, at work or at home. I’m trying to find a meaning with my life, happiness, and find out what I want to do for work.
Or else I live in a 37 square meter studio apartment in an up-and-coming neighbourhood in Oslo. I love it here and I cook a lot. Food can be as beautiful as art to me, and it’s tasty.
In some periods I produce music, the winter of 2015 was a period for that. I’m trying to create an alternative electronic sound, very melodiously. You can listen to it here
4. Who or what inspires you?
All of the things my brain and eyes finds objectively attractive. Patterns, materials, etc. Different cultures, environment, and today’s society.
5. How do you get clients?
Instagram is my main stage, where I go by the artist name: Paper.roll.art. That’s where I have my gallery open for the world to follow. I find Instagram a great place for new artists to gain contacts within the art network and an excellent way to quickly spread the art worldwide to anyone with interest.
I’ve been published on some big Instagram art accounts which I just found thrilling. I really appreciate when people leave me comments. I see each person as a new potential contact. I would love to travel the world for exhibitions, having spread out contacts will hopefully help me to achieve that one day.
My plan is to have my first exhibition within the next twelve months, hopefully abroad.
But of course, I’ve got my website as well, which mostly works as a web shop.
6. Do you do other work or are you 100% focused on making and selling art?
I’ve got a normal nine to five job. I would love to be independent though. That’s what I’m aiming for. But I know then I’ll have to work harder.
7. Do you think it's important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
Absolutely not. Education is a perfect learning system. But art is for anyone to perform, not just the people who went to school. Art is who you are, what’s within us, all you need is passion.
Both of my parents teach art, but growing up I never asked them anything hehe... I guess just wanted to do my own thing. It’s important to be yourself, then you will learn from yourself. It’s what makes you unique.
8. What is your dream art project?
Something big, in an even bigger place.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring/emerging artists?
Listen to your heart. Let your thoughts speak.
10. What's next for you?
A paper roll that looks like a living plant.
Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos supplied by the artist