THE KID CAN DRAW
& his name is Andreas Von Buddenbrock
Before we get started, you should know three things.
1. Life, itself is chaotic, and the circumstances of this story were directly influenced, nay, propelled into the stratosphere through the bombastic eruptions of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in 2010.
2.There is no such thing as a "perfect society", and even a country that most perceive to be as such, does not equate to be a perfect one. Halfway through our interview (broken into two different days), the Charlottesville protests took place. We spoke at length about the importance of travel, and how not simply visiting, but talking and meeting people from different cultures is integral to being a decent human being.
3. The kid can draw.
Dubai - The Burj Khalifa
Andreas Von Buddenbrock is a 6 foot something Swede with blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. It's lengthy and fall in your face casual like the heartthrob in a teenage sitcom. Shawn Hunter immediately comes to mind, but we're being a tad anachronistic. Andreas is a man of today's generation. With passport and pen, the Swede has lived across three different countries, from Sweden to Hong Kong to the USA to pursue his passion of becoming an illustrator.
Most of the time, people don't have a eureka moment when it comes to their passions. It's usually a series of small events that led the camel to water. For Andreas, it was quite literally, a volatile eruption that turned what should have been a two week vacation into one of the most defining moments in his life.
THE KID CAN DRAW
Words: Chau Mui
Illustrations: Andreas Von Buddenbrock
The Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupted in April of 2010. Icelandic for “the island’s mountain glacier,” the ensuing smoke and ash was catapulted 6 miles into the air, the plume caught directly by the headwind and forcing the ashes Northeast across the North Atlantic Ocean to northern Europe. The Volcano culminates in what is to be one of the worst air traffic disruptions since World War II. For six entire days, all of Europe is landlocked. No planes in, no planes out.
6,700 miles away in the Philippines, Andreas' two week vacation is postponed indefinitely. His stay turned into a month long affair where his trip turned, "from a vacation to feeling like I actually lived there". Within a year, Andreas was packed and ready to leave his native home of Stockholm, Sweden to explore the rest of the world.
And so, it was the eruption of a volcano thousands of miles away that led Andreas to conceive of a life outside of Stockholm, and to hop from the Philippines to Hong Kong and to the US where he pursued art school. He found the Philippines to be warmer both in culture and temperature, a far cry from the Stockholm winters where the sun would rise at 8am and set at 3pm. Hong Kong was a city filled with some of the oddest sights he'd seen (including a trash fire in the middle of a city street with a man in an orange fur suit ). It was also home to some of the most delicious foods he'd tried.
He applied to the Savannah College of Art and Design ( SCAD), and there perfected his style of highly detailed ink drawing called, "stippling". The process involves hundreds and thousands of meticulous dots to shape a drawing. As part of his training, Andreas began to document day to day life in the cities that he lived. He'd often be found drawing outside with his black notebook. For more detailed stipple drawings, he'd take a picture and work from that later.
"It's different between a hotel traveler vs a hostel traveler. They go out for dinner, they don't experience a culture. You develop a lot of skills and learn about the world by talking to people."
Andreas wasn't only drawing beautiful landscapes and skylines, but the pulse of everyday city life. Many times, this meant capturing the darker sides of city life. In Hong Kong, he captured protesters pushing for a democratic HK, free from China's rule during the Umbrella Movement of 2014. For two weeks he went out daily to take pictures, talk to people, and observe what was happening.
"I still felt the effects of the teargas that was in the air. I was also living 1-2 blocks from one of the major camp sites of the protesters (in Mong Kok)."
"I don't really see my work as having any kind of political agenda, but rather a documentation and observation of what's going on around me".
In NYC, he captured the fiery protests after Trump was elected president in Union Square. His intention was never to only capture protests, but the more he captured city life, the more he captured the dissent.
In Atlanta, Georgia, he documented a rally against GMO and MONSANTO.
Today, Andreas is a freelance illustrator, traveling the world where he continues to observe, draws and talk to the locals. I asked Andreas what his thoughts were as as a Swede, and whether he felt any difference between his homeland and the people of Hong Kong, Philippines and Americans. He responded,
"People are more or less the same. There are so many similarities between one another. It's very easy to think of other people as the OTHER. And usually it's the people who don't travel."
As an artist, Andreas embeds himself into the culture, bringing an honest look at a place, capturing a city with both it's lights and shadows. You can see more of his work on his website HERE or on his Instagram.
If you liked Andreas work, do check out his shop at Society 6 and order a print today.
Check out Andreas' full account of the HK Umbrella revolution HERE.
In August of 2017, the three young pro democracy protestors of the Umbrella Movement, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were sentenced to imprisonment. Thousands of demonstrators protested the sentence. More here. Joshua Wong Jailed