Don’t Ask Leh Poulsen to Do Tattoos

We asked the Copenhagen-based illustrator about her intricate animals—and no, she won’t tattoo them on you.

Leh Poulsen is a Copenhagen-based illustrator whose work highlights animals as we know them, but in a context that questions humans’ relationships to, and impact on, nature. Our very own Abdellah had a quick chat with her.

Hi Leh, it’s been quite a while since your first exhibition and our last interview. What have you been up to?

Hi! Well… A lot! First of all I’ve worked on becoming a little bit more formal with a website, a Facebook & Instagram page and so on. My first exhibit was actually an attempt to show my skills and get more commercial illustration jobs. I was surprised that people was actually interested in my work and not my skills and instead of trying to become an all around illustrator I grew confident to nurse my own style.

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Is the second time easier than the first?

No definitely not. The work load has only increased, because of all the “It would also be really cool to have special lamps, furniture, signs etc”. Always strive to do better! Someone with no stress limit once said.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian
Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

What is the most frequent question you get asked?

If it comes in print and if I can draw a tattoo. I only do very limited prints and I’m afraid that detailed pencil drawings don’t translate that well onto skin. It would be a huge complement if someone got inked with my art though! (Just go ahead!)

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

This exhibition seems quite political. Are you trying to change the world one drawing at a time?

My main goal is not to change anything, but I know it can come out that way. I interpret the world through my work and somehow I find a bigger need to get the more worrying thoughts out and onto paper. Maybe it’s a kind of therapy and why I don’t draw that many happy things… Naturally I don’t want to flush out the happiness.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

What is your favourite color?

Fifty shades of grey would be a natural answer, if it wasn’t for the movie title. I work mostly in greytones and I love the melancholy of pencil and charcoal. But, I have planned to spill a lot of colours in the future. I tend to plan ahead, so the next ten artworks are already in my head and this time it will be full of bright colors – not happy. Bright!

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

Which artist should we keep an eye on?

I’m very inspired by the Norwegian artist Sverre Malling at the moment. He shares my passion for the black and white universe and his drawings varies from the intense to the peculiar. My work will definitely be influenced by his style in the time to come. Another artist worth mentioning is American Renee French. The way she makes the pencil all misty and blurry is pure magic.

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

Finish the sentence: “When I’m not an artist I…”:

Am finishing my joint masters degree in architecture and graphic design. A field I’m also really passionate about, but not in the same way as when I do art.

Girls are awesome because:

I love you guys for doing ‘Girls are awesome’, you’re awesome too!

Foto: Abdellah Ihadian

Credit: Interview and Images by Abdellah


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