Robert Sammelin

Article by Amie Wee

At my best, a single drawing or image is both crude and delicate, cheeky and scary, fun and thoughtful—that’s what I keep wanting to achieve. Also, I simply can’t seem to stop drawing.

Tell us about your process. What’s involved?

It depends a lot on the assignment; in my normal job making concept art and branding work for games, it’s an entirely digital process that involves a lot of people and factors, so in a way that’s not my art—it’s a team effort.

Commissioned illustrations and posters, on the other hand, I generally start off with some research and reference gathering followed by a couple of rough digital color sketches I run by the client. When we’re in agreement, I do a loose pencil foundation on paper that I either ink or render in pencil, followed by scanning and digital coloring. 

There have been the odd acrylic painting or digitally painted pieces over time, but most of my art is done on paper. For my personal work, it’s always on paper with digital coloring and is an improvised affair; I start drawing and make it up as I go.

How has your art evolved over time?

I like to experiment and try different mediums and methods. I think it’s essential for any artist, but for me it diverges into different styles of work—line art inks, pencil renderings, digital painting and branding/key art—that all inform the others but remain its own thing.

Earlier this year, though, I started dabbling with 3D sculpting and rendering. You’d think from making video games the past 15 years I’d been at it for some time, but I just never got around to it. It’s incredibly fun and addictive, but a lot more time-consuming for me than drawing.

What equipment do you use to create your pieces?

Pencils, brushes, dip pen nibs, ink, an assortment of brush pens, whiteout, a computer and a Wacom Cintiq.

How’s your relationship with Instagram?

I was an early adopter of Instagram, but for the longest time favored Tumblr over it for online art posting. With the latter’s steady, sad decline after the adult ban, I jumped ship to Instagram. I have my own site and a few portfolio services like Behance and ArtStation, but for the general outreach, you can’t beat social media. I’ve made a lot of meaningful connections and friendships with artists and clients through it.

Do you ever struggle with online censorship?

At times, yes. Being Swedish, I believe myself to have a healthy relationship to nudity, body positivity and sexuality, and I’m often surprised at what constitutes “safe” content online. The apparent fear of human nudity and sexual expression baffles me.

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