Writing Books, Creating Ballets, TV and Museum Exhibitions
I grew up in Norway, and as a child I was engrossed in my own world where I constantly played, designed and built fantasy universes; so it was natural for me to enrol in a creative education. I chose Design School Kolding, because my cousin had been a student there, and I was too young to attend the corresponding school in Oslo.
I wanted to be a designer, because that was a discipline which embraced many of the things I was interested in: Creating things, drawing, form, aesthetics and storytelling. The school was a cornucopia of creative fools and larger-than-life personalities, and I loved every minute of it. In my second year I realised how difficult the job market was for designers, and I began to direct my work onto a more commercial course. But there was also a playful artist inside me who needed space, so I submitted two graduation projects for my final exam, one commercial project on paper to apply for a job, the other an avant-garde project which I presented at the graduation show.
The plan worked. After my graduation I was headhunted to Levi Strauss & Co and ended up working for them in Sweden, Germany and Belgium, where their European headquarters were located. But after a number of years in the company the artist in me demanded space and wanted to get out, and I realised I had to look for something I had lost contact with: The inner child.
I had always dreamed of writing and illustrating children’s books. I was aware that it was a tough market to penetrate and knew instinctively that I had to move back to Denmark where there was a long and well-established appreciation for children’s culture. I returned in 2003 and published “Den Magiske Kogebog” (The Magic Cookbook) the same year. More books followed, and they became my ticket to children’s TV. ’Shanes Verden’ (Shane’s Universe) was conceived, and as a full-grown man I was allowed to play, build and recreate the world I had as a child and even share it with lots of children and their grownups.
Concurrently, I have had assignments for Royal Copenhagen and other Danish companies and created museum exhibitions based on the world of the playful child. In addition I have told stories accompanied by classical music on the P2 radio station.
Another dream of mine was to create theatre, but I never had the courage to pursue my dream, not until the Danish Royal Theatre knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to play with them. The result was the children’s ballet ’Fabelmageren ’ (the Fable Maker) on the theatre’s Old Stage, and in this project I needed all the knowledge and skills I had learnt during my years at Design School Kolding. Lately these skills have once again come to good use in the task to design the exhibition ’Fra Kongehusets Gemmer’ (From the Private Attics of the Danish Royal Family).
In the design process proper humour, nonconformity, quality, and an eye for the aesthetic dimension have always been important aspects of my work, irrespective of whether it was for adults or for children. My training has sharpened and improved the visual process, and my time at Levi’s has persuaded me to naturally think in terms of concepts, which has benefitted small as well as large projects.