“Sex is fun, naked bodies are fun": Meet illustrator Fredrik Andersson

With an “obsession for drawing naked people, especially hairy men”, London-based illustrator, Fredrik Andersson, tackles topics such as sexuality, gender and intimacy with a necessary element of humour. Since graduating from Camberwell College of Arts in 2016, he has since created a diverse portfolio of mediums, featuring ceramics, watercolours, inks and various printmaking techniques. It’s Nice That caught up with Fredrik to discuss the reasons behind his work and to find out more about his recent endeavours.

Where did this “obsession for drawing naked people, especially hairy men” stem from?

It all started when my teachers suddenly told me I could draw whatever I wanted. I was kind of surprised. I had been drawing a lot of animals and floral stuff with the occasional attempts at ‘realistic’ portraits. I had created comics and funny drawings before but always kept it quite safe in many ways. I then discovered I had a lot to say about stuff like sex, nudity and intimacy. These are all things that I think we need to discuss more openly. I add my own sense of humour to it, which makes it easier to talk about. Sex is fun, naked bodies are fun; they are to be enjoyed. 

As a gay man I mostly draw from people that I am attracted to. However, since Trump won the election I made a very conscious decision to include more characters from the entire queer spectrum in my work. I believe in equal representation in art and in life in general. 

The main themes surrounding your work usually involve topics of sex, intimacy and LGBT prejudice. Is this something that you strive to continue?

As I mentioned, I feel the world is in some form of decline when it comes to politics. The ability to embrace the new concepts of love and intimacy is getting weaker. So, as an artist that considers myself to be queer, I see it as my duty to help educate the people around me — not only in my art but also in my personal life, questioning things I see as homophobic. I admit that I live a very privileged life as I am being given a lot of opportunities here in London, so I am trying to help the best I can, and I don’t think I will ever stop trying. Being queer to me is to be as loud and proud as possible.

Your work is highly autobiographical and draws on many of your own experiences. How do you transcend what’s happening in reality into illustration?

It depends on the event. With minor things I just make them into drawings on my computer, to then explore curiosities I have about queer and gay culture. Other bigger events take the form of comics and short stories (in text form), with accompanying illustrations. A personal project that I keep on coming back to started on my visit to the ponds in Hampstead Heath last summer. The male pond holds a strange tension in the air, as I felt like I was always being observed. The area is quite known in gay circuits for its cruising and this did not come as a surprise. I am still confused with how it made me feel — scared and excited at the same time. So with my drawings I am exploring that sensation and playing with the fantasy of what might take place if I had embraced it then and there.

Do you use illustration as means to express your own emotions, perhaps as a therapeutic release?

All of my personal work is a way of processing events in my life, with some bigger than others. 

My ceramics help me realise that things are not as bad as they may seem, and that the thing that made me cry the other day now just seems like a joke. This idea mainly concerns smaller mishaps in sex or relationships, rather than the problems of the world. 

At the moment ceramics are taking up a big part of my life. It’s fun, exciting and I learn something new every day, especially now that I just moved into a new studio run by two very experienced women. But I do enjoy my sketchbook process work a lot: drawing with inks and markers feeds into both my digital and ceramic work, so I would almost say that my doodles are the most precious to me. I have no issues selling a vase I’ve made, but I would never sell a sketchbook.