Henrik Franklin’s new mind-bending work is filled to the brim with wit and intelligence. Produced by Pressen Zines, Be Yourself: Die Alone! offers “hilarious obituaries, gloomy PowerPoint’s and sobbing super heroes” in a format of unusual techniques and stories.
“It’s a summary of my personal projects from the last three years or so,” explains the Swedish-based illustrator when discussing what we can find within its pages. “When it comes to the imagery, I like to look at parts of the contemporary art scene and also different graphic design elements I stumble upon. This can be everything from book covers, stickers for football supporters’ clubs, PowerPoint presentations or logos on trucks.”
Since we last featured Henrik, not only has he been juggling the balance of new parenthood but he’s also been busy refining his illustration skills. His latest addition falls nothing short of a great accomplishment and it’s one of those works that needs a second glance; at first, the imagery looks like common fragments found in the everyday. On a closer look, the audience will experience the bizarre and realise that the images are not exactly what they seem. “I like to present insecurities, loneliness and misunderstandings, as well as the occasional nonsense,” he explains.
“I’m quite political as a person. I really enjoy doing political images from time to time, but I try not to do it too often as I feel like it often results in a preaching-to-the-choir situation. I think it’s more interesting to talk about the less flattering sides of being a person and the day-to-day stuff.” This ethos results in a clever collection of mini stories, featuring detailed scenarios about the uncertainty of human existence. “I think insecurities might be more relatable than opinions, but at the same time I can fully appreciate the feeling of having someone be on your side when it comes to your worldview.”
The design of the zine goes hand-in-hand with the illustrations – simple, poster-like layouts are twisted with in an ironic portrayal of human emotion. “I like to include elements of design in what I do to enhance some parts of the story. For the ‘PowerPoint images’, I’ve tried to think about who made the slides and how that person would present her or his material,” says Henrik.
Having come to terms with his signature style, his illustrations fully depict “how” and “what” he wants to draw. “Most of what I do is the result of a sensation or idea that starts out as a small text fragment. It might be that I’m in a certain mood and I try to express what I’m feeling, or it can be that I’m a bit bored and start to have some small ideas (which I think is the classical way of working.) I can also get a lot of things done when it comes to ideas while reading or watching stuff I like.”