Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

One of the joys of visiting illustrators around the world is the travel, and Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit – its canals and a fairy tale buildings lending an air of enchantment. I’m going to visit the Danish collective Hvass&Hannibal whose work seems to reflect this culture.

When we get up for breakfast me and my travel companion Edith get a sense that we are somewhere truly foreign. That’s partly due to the strange array of fish delicacies that are on offer and largely because of the Christmas carols that are piped into the lift and hotel lobby. Our companion diners are wearing their Christmas sweaters. It’s April.

Apart from a Peruvian pipe band the streets are oddly deserted and it’s cold, bitingly cold. Hvass&Hannibal work in a trendy area of town where second hand retro shops sit next to interesting coffee shops. Their studio is in a basement; a warm haven and the illustrators too offer warm greetings and tea.

Sofie reveals that on this day Jesus is going back to heaven, that it’s a holiday. The illustrators work for clients all around the world (and are visited by writers from the UK) so they don’t always observe local holidays.

Interviewing a collective is a tricky business but Sofie and Nan seem well accustomed to answering each other’s questions and contradicting each other’s replies. I get a sense that there are no egos just searching minds. I’m especially interested in their working relationship, which in many ways parallels that of Derek’s and mine. They are individuals working closely together in no need of individual ownership. They are strong and creative and their work seems to be a genuine extension and expression of who they are as Scandinavian artists working with curiosity about what may be around the corner.

They are an interesting duo and I’m lucky to see so much of their work in the flesh on the studio walls- delicately coloured sculptural pieces, patches of intertwined fabrics, Alexander Calder-like constructions.

I head off after an inspiring couple of hours to find Edith in the quiet centre of town and find a café serving the hottest soup I have ever eaten.

Jo Davies

Studio and Portrait photographs by Andrea Liggins

Hvass&Hannibal site

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