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Fredrik Ödman

Delve into the mind of Swedish photographer Fredrik Ödman and discover his weird and wonderful fantasy photo art…

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Fredrik Ödman

Age: 30
Country:Sweden and Norway

Favouriteartists: Odd Nerdrum, Robert ParkeHarrison, Anders Zorn, Salvador Dali, Irving Penn, Rein Poortvliet, Brom

Favourite digital artists: Linda Bergkvist, Erwin Olaf

Software used: Photoshop CS2

Fredrik Ödman’s imagery is sometimes dark, sometimes amusing, and sometimes frightening. However, it’s always genuinely arresting, thought-provoking and extremely well executed. Fredrik’s fantasy-themed photo art is a wonderful example of an original, forward-thinking style that captures its audience with strong symbols and shapes, before seducing them with oh-so-clever details.

At the beginning of his career though, Fredrik was more interested in portraiture and abstract canvases. It was later that he discovered a medium that enabled him to express his inner visions in their entirety.

Aspiring Artist

“I was unsure whether I wanted to be a photographer – I saw myself as more of a creative artist,” he tells us. “Over the years I’ve lived inexpensively, to avoid becoming dependent on too many photo assignments and develop my own imagery. And over the years, I began to get jobs that came my way because of my personal style.” Good advice for any aspiring artist – if you can afford it!

Fredrik is a man who loves his work – and this comes across in the detail, beauty and humour in his photo-led pieces. “The best thing about my job is that I get to work with the things I think are the most fun,” enthuses the artist. “Whether I am taking pictures of a crocheted curtain or working on one of my own images, I enjoy what I am doing. To me, no day is like any other.”

What with the astonishing detail present in Fredrik’s work, you won’t be surprised to hear that each image can take up to 100 hours. In fact, “sometimes several months pass before I finish a picture,” he says. He goes on to explain his working process in considerable detail: “My picture process consists of some preliminary work, which is followed by a more or less complete idea in my head, a photography session and then completion in my computer.”

Fredrik continues, going more in-depth. “The preliminary work can consist of manufacturing props, painting backdrops, make-up and lighting. During the photography session, pictures are taken
on both a Mamija RZ medium-format camera and a Nikon D50, which will become part of the planned image. Photoshop helps me combine all the elements in my computer, using a simple collage technique.”

Fredrik’s workflow varies greatly though – it all depends on the final image. “In some images, almost everything is built up digitally and the photo simply serves as a base,” he says. “But of course, some of my more straightforward shots just require colour and contrast adjustments and standard retouching.”

In the detail

So where does he get the inspiration for his often surreal imagery? “Today most of my inspiration comes from my own work,” he admits. “I am inspired by my development and am more and more fascinated by making pictures.” By his own admission, it’s very easy to inspire Fredrik: “Sometimes I find some interesting things at a junk market, and suddenly I have a whole project in the works.”

That said, Fredrik’s love of fantasy has been a long-running inspiration, ever since one of his childhood friends introduced him to D&D. “I loved looking at the pictures, much more than playing,” he says. “I sat at home and drew and painted from the books I borrowed from my friend. When I look back on it today I can see that I probably have him to thank for much of my art and my fantasy!”

Photography, by his own admission, has made Fredrik more aware of light – it’s also made him obsessed with details. “I love pictures with a wealth of details – images where the viewer keeps discovering new details, which lead them deeper into the picture.”

Fredrik is keen to emphasise that while a grasp of digital tools is important – and they enable creative freedom and many more possibilities, especially in the field of photography – knowing how to use software is only a small part of the creative process. “Many artists are immersed in technique and that’s not good,” he says. “It is possible to make wonderful pictures with a cheap camera, but it can’t be done with the most expensive equipment if you haven’t developed the talent and the knowledge. It also doesn’t matter how a picture was created – it’s the end result that’s important.”

Unique Energy

Throughout his career, Fredrik has been on a quest to do what he finds fun, and at the same time, meaningful. And he offers some choice advice for anyone embarking on a career in the digital arts, whatever medium they might choose: “Whenever you cannot find inspiration and energy, you should work to develop it anyway. I believe that you can think of yourself as an elite athlete in the image world. Train and plan at the same time so that you work to keep up your joy. Learn the basics of image creation and don’t try to take shortcuts. Be good at something that separates you from the crowd of image-makers. Know thyself!”
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