Meet the Maker: Ingela P. Arrhenius

Ingela P Arrhenius in Her Studio

Ingela P Arrhenius in Her Studio

Do you still remember the joy of opening a storybook when you were a child? The combination of adorable characters, funny story, and colorful illustrations made for a great lullaby. This, it seems, is also something that influences Ingela P. Arrhenius, a freelance illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. Naming Richard Scarry as her favorite children’s book author, she has created many cheerful drawings that have adorned various products until now.

“I drew a lot as a child,” says Ingela who grew up in an artistic house (Dad was an art collector; Mum made silver jewelry as a hobby). “After graduating from school and a year abroad, I worked at an advertising agency, which led me to art school. And after that, I started with my freelance business.”

If you take a look at Ingela’s illustrations, it is not hard to see the childlike wonder emanating from every piece. Most of them are part of her Animal Collection: a smiling tiger riding a helicopter, a koala playing cello, a flock of chirping birds, a cute take on the Noah’s Ark.

Her work also reflects a certain retro style. “I am influenced by the ‘50s and ‘60s,” she admits. “I think the best illustrations, furniture, and ceramics were designed in this era. I have always loved it and I think one reason is because we had a lot of it in my childhood home.” Ingela counts antiquarian bookstores and flea markets as the places where she usually searches for inspirations. “Anything with a nice pattern, illustration, or cool graphic inspires me. My home and studio are filled with flea market findings.”

Having done illustrations for many children’s books alongside advertising and magazine commissions, Ingela now focuses on her own line of products that she created in collaborations with companies like OMM Design, Lagom Design, La Marelle Editions, and Ferm Living.

Working with products suits Ingela very well, as proven by her wide-ranging creations: greeting cards, memory game, and even matryoshka-like nesting dolls set. “I work for different companies and sometimes I think I should produce more stuff myself,” she says. “An illustration in a magazine is gone after a week but a nesting doll can stand in the bookshelf for years. It makes me happy to think about that.”

Currently, Ingela works inside a studio that she describes as “very crowded. It is not messy; it is an organised chaos and in that atmosphere I am creative.” She shares it with other designers and journalists. “It’s important to me to have colleagues.”

Meanwhile, in her free time, Ingela loves going to the theater, playing Wordfeud on her phone, and reading books (she is a member of a book club). With Christmas coming up, she usually goes to a summerhouse in the countryside with her family. “It is so peaceful and dark there this time of year.”

Asked about what she thinks is Sweden’s greatest contribution to the art and design world, Ingela answers, “Simplicity and a strong feeling for shapes and colors.” A description that is apt for her as well.