Q: How long have you worked with skull art?
A: I started working with skulls/ bones or became a “bone/skull artist” so to speak when I accidentally in spring 2011 found the remains of a moose as I was out on a stroll in the beautiful forest in Sweden where I live. The moose skull I found was so beautiful as it laid there, but I also felt it was so forgotten so unhonoured. Something urged me to pick it up and take it home with me. I did not really know then what life had in store for me to do with it or why I had taken it home with me, but a few days later I felt the need to somehow honor the remains of what was once so alive. I wanted to honor life and death, the never ending circle. I cleaned the skull and decided to honor it the best way I could and that was by giving it a bit of new life with paint and decoration work. And so "Aruaa", my first skull art was born. I did not know then what adventures would lie ahead and where this would actually take me, but since then the journey continued. I found more skulls as I was out on my walks and people all around the world started to contact me curious about what I was doing and creating with skulls. I decided to launch social media platsforms for Skulls & Bones Artwork, where I could upload photos of my work and adventures and where people interested in me and my skull art could get in touch with me and follow my journey. Since 2011 I have created many pieces of skull art and my artistic journey will continue as long as I feel inspired, creative and that the work I do has got a meaning. The idea of not creating art does not at the moment exist.
Q: Ethical Taxidermy, What is that?
A: This is a term that we use when we want to underline the fact that no animals were harmed in the process of creating skull art. I find most of the skulls & bones I work with in nature dead by natural causes or food chain death. Sometimes I find the remains of hunt or road kill. Hunters also sometimes give me their hunting “trophies”. I could never kill an animal myself, I have got great respect and love for all animals and I have got great respect for both life and death. No animal will ever get harmed by my hand, nor any animal ever killed for the cause of my artwork. If any animal would be harmed for the purpose of my artwork, then the entire soul of my artwork would forever be lost. I merely wish to honor the remains that find their way into my hands, with my wish to honor life and death. I have got a certificate and license that allows me to work with skulls & bones as a taxidermist and bone artist and I follow all rules and regulations with regards to this. I also only work with reputable licensed suppliers of ethically and legally obtained bones.
Q: Do you work with real bones of animals in your artwork?
A: Yes, all of the bones/skulls are remains from animals and ethically sourced, but I do add additional pieces /materials of various kinds to my artwork. I also sometimes work together with other artists, creating combined pieces of artwork based on my designs and ideas for the final piece and finished result. I have got a certificate and license that allows me to work with skulls & bones as a taxidermist and bone artist and I follow all rules and regulations with regards to this.
Q: Where do you get all your bones and skulls?
A: Please see the above answer on “ethical taxidermy”.
Q: Can you ship abroad?
A: Yes, I can ship my artwork to many places around the world, but there are some restrictions in some countries where I cannot ship to. Please contact me for further details of where you live and we can discuss all details and possibilities of shipping.
Q: Where will you exhibit next and How can I find out about upcoming shows in my area?
A: I aim to exhibit my artwork more from now on due to the amount of request I get for exhibiting my artwork. I will keep you updated with future plans and exhibition opportunities. You can sign up for my mailing list, see the exhibitions page on my website or subscribe to my events on my Facebook page.
Q: How did you learn to work with bones?
A: I am self taught, an autodidact when it comes to working with bones. I had to learn everything from scratch and by trial and error. Internet and finding other taxidermy artists and tutorials out there helped me a lot, but most of the job I did by trying out, and seeing what worked and what did not. My background as an artist is that I have studied art for a handful of years in Finland, so this really came in handy when it was time to start to create artwork and work with decorating the bones. I have always had a great amount of patience and passion for creating and to work 3-dimensionally.
Q: What Materials/tools do you use?
A: When I paint I mostly use acrylic colours, silver/gold leafing techniques, I sometimes add glitters, jewellery pieces, and real swarovsky crystals or other materials I found suitable for the skull art I want to create. I also carve patterns in the bone, and when I carve out the pattern I use a multi tool called "Dremel" and various diamond/hard steel drills/bits for that. When using a dremel make sure to wear a lot of safety protection such as a protective mask, glasses, earplugs and make sure you have got great ventilation in the room where you are working.
Q: How do you clean and prepare the bones and skulls?
A: I could give you my answer to this, but I feel that the best answers are provided by my fellow bone artist Jana Miller who runs "Bone Lust". Please check her fantastic bone artwork out and also find answers to all your questions on her blog: Bonelust
Q: When did you start working with bone art?
A: April 2011. I had not seen any skull artwork before so this was all really new to me. I tried to find other skull art in Europe, or anyone who could give me tips on skull art and working with bones but could not find anyone then, so I think I was pretty alone doing this in Europe when I started. Some years later it became a trend here and now there are quite a few skull painters in Europe. When I launched Skulls & Bones Artwork in 2011 as my journey went on, other artists found me and I also started to find bone artists around the world, especially in the USA, today I am friends with many of them.
Q: Can I visit you in Sweden and see your skull collection?
A: Yes! Although I do not have a gallery and work studio of my own yet, but there are plans to build one in the near future. Until then I am renting a studio where I work creating my skull art and I have got my finished skull art collection in my home or stored in my studio. If you want to visit me you are more than welcome to do so, just send me an email and we can talk through all details and set up an art date :). You can also keep yourself updated with where I am exhibiting my skull art next by signing up for my mailing list, check out the exhibitions page on my website or subscribe to my events on my Facebook page.
Q: Do you need a permit to do this work?
A: Yes! Working with animal bones requires an permit. There are strict regulations to follow and I follow them all and I have got a permit that allows me to work with my skull art within these regulations.
Q: What price range do you have?
A: My price range on my skull art varies all depending on what technique I have used, what kind of skull it is and size of the skull. The price reflects the amount of hours I have put the artwork, from start to finalising the piece. If you are interested in purchasing my artwork send me an email to discuss all details further.
Q: I have seen on your Facebook page that you do events to, what is Midvinterglöd?
A: Yes! Part from creating skull art and working as a makeup artist I also organise various events together with my partner Fredrik Fernlund. We came up with the idea to organise and create a magical winter festival we named "Midvinterglöd" / Midwinterglow - An alternative Christmas market and winter festival based on tales and myths in Swedish folklore. We started this tradition in 2012 and the festival takes place around the 13th of December, in "Lucia time". You can read more about Midvinterglöd on our website for the festival and if you want to visit and be part of our festival you are more than welcome to do so!
Q: Can I order a custom made skull artwork from you?
A: Yes you can! Just send me an email and we can discuss all the details and the idea of the skull artwork that you have got in mind and I will do my outmost to fulfil your vision.
Q: I have seen that there is a strange language used sometimes with your skull artwork, what language is that?
A: The language is called "Xhaimeran", a constructed language by writer and musician Leo Flavum. I collaborate with Leo, he names all of my skull artwork and he gives each and every one of them a written story/ poem to add another dimension to them.
Q: you are not a vegan i guess?
A: I am not a vegan, but this does not mean I don't care for animals. I love animals and I honor all living beings. I am very aware of what I'm eating and I support ecological farming. I do not support any kind of animal abuse or mistreating of animals in the meat business. My artwork is not created in the means to disrespect the animals, and I would never harm an animal to create art. My artwork is my way of showing respect to the animals spirit in my way of honouring the remains of it.
Q: I do not like what you are doing with the animals.
A: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I cannot expect that everyone will understand or appreciate my work. That is part of the beauty of artwork, it will not please everyone. But I can always explain and enlighten people that even though you do not like my artwork, I really need you to understand that I do not harm any animals and never will, no animal will die for the purpose of my artwork. Again, this is my way of honouring the remains of the animals. My way of honouring life and death, the never ending circle.
Q: Are you a member of to the cult, order and secret society - Skull & Bones?
A: No I am not. When I started working with skull and bone art I needed a name for my platform so I just put the two of them together and ended up with Skulls & Bones Artwork. Nothing more, nothing less.
Q: Are you just exhibiting in Sweden?
A: At the moment most of my exhibitions are in Sweden. I have exhibited my artwork in Milano, Italy and in Finland and I am currently looking into the possibilities of exhibiting my artwork in UK and other countries in Europe, but it takes a bit of time to organise it all, find venues and look into all details such as shipping and travels.
Q: Do you paint ordinary paintings to?
A: Sometimes! I have created a set of paintings and it was really fun to do so and I really enjoyed the process of painting on canvas. I mostly work with skulls but who knows if I will create a few more paintings in the future.
Q: Can I order photographs of your skull artwork?
A: At the moment no, but we are looking into this and we aim to offer this service in the future.
Q: Can collaborate with you in any way?
A: I am open to ideas of collaboration. So if you have got an idea for a collaboration in mind send me an email and share your idea with me and we can discuss possible collaboration from there.
Q: Do you work with human skulls?
A: No I do not and in Sweden its also illegal to own human bones.
Q: What type of animals do you most often make artwork of and do you work with all animal remains, like pets?
A: At the moment I only work with wild animals, not pets. I do not work on animals that are endangered species or illegal to work with. Most of the animal remains are from Swedish wild life such as moose, reindeer, roe deer, wild boar, fox, etc.
Q: I own a gallery and would like to exhibit your work, is there anything special I need to know to exhibit your artwork in my gallery?
A: I am interested in getting in contact with gallery owners/ various venues and events where I could exhibit my skull art so please send me an email and we can discuss this further.
Q: I love your costumes! Do you make them yourself?
A: Most of the costumes I wear I create myself or buy clothes that I transform and "pimp up" . I love costumes and dressing up and the head pieces/ masks you can see me wearing are my creations.