Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About
By mid- afternoon the city of Copenhagen is thawed and the sun has melted the mist away to reveal the cities famous Tivoli gardens where the locals are enjoying its dizzying rides.
Sedately, I take a bus from the city centre to the leafy suburbs where Naja Conrad-Hansen lives and works. I must stop complaining about the weather but one of the first things Naja does is apologise for the cold: she is a native but yearns for warmer climes. Her apartment is a hybrid studio and the famous gilded faces of her artwork look down upon us as we speak.
She is a fashion illustrator whose work is about more than frocks and handbags- there is an aesthetic disquiet in many of her pieces a sense of the decadent and potentially deviant in her characters. Naja too could have been a model, striking with her white hair and long figure; she is strong and talks of a life that has had a share of drama. There are also paintings. Large canvases, explosive with areas of pattern and colour, bold and striking and smaller drawings with delicate considered mark making.
Naja shows me a film poster drawn by her grandfather a masterly piece of graphic imagery, and an intriguing painting by her Mother. She talks of her resistance to becoming an artist herself and she laughs about the irony of it. She laughs a lot!
At the end of the interview Naja brings out two cakes that she has made especially for my visit. She is pleased that we have invited her to be one of our illustrators, but it is me who feels both humble and honoured to be sitting with her in her white studio eating a huge chunk of an apple cake smothered with whipped cream.
Photography by Andrea Liggins
Naja Conrad Hansen site