I was sitting in my childhood house in Sweden on a bbeautiful May morning when I got a message from a friend. It said “Do you think you can help us make a collection of art based around the Swedish concept of Fika”
Before I go into to the creative process itself I guess we have to start with what “Fika” actually is….In Sweden, Fika is a social institution. If you translate it literally it becomes to have coffee, or tea, along with something sweet together with a friend. However it is more than that…Fika is a time to relax and to reflect and to just spend time with friends and loved ones. In Sweden there are generally two times per day for Fika, even though it is of course possible to do it at any time. These are Morning Fika & Afternoon Fika. They are not really different and I would say equally important.
So back to the story. My friend has a candy brand and for their new product they had chosen a chocolate covered coffee bean and used the very Swedish name “Fika”. Now he was asking me whether I could come up with some cool artwork to put alongside the products in a super trendy cafe in Shanghai’s Xintiandi area called Essence Cafe.
To me it was perfect timing since I was sitting in Sweden surrounded by Swedish culture, shapes and colors all day long. I got into my father’s Honda, which smells very distinctly of the large Shepherd dog we have, and drove the 40 min it takes to the closest art supply store. I always keep some things with me so that I can paint anywhere but nowhere near enough for what was needed for this.
I immediately started imagening coffee beans and chocolate beans and flowers and cups and all other kinds of things so I quickly realized that to have a common theme I would have to limit myself in some sort of matter. So what I did was that I decided to use only two colors, brown & yellow. The paintings in Sweden all followed this pattern with some close ups as well as a number of trials, all watercolor crayons (NeocolorII) on paper. I think they came out great and in many different ways.
I left it here after a pretty long journey through Europe and wasn’t entirely sure whether I had any more ideas left after this sudden outburst. Time however often refills my creative idea bucket and it wasn’t long after I got back home to Tokyo that I picked up my brushes and my acrylic paints and set out to do another set of coffee paintings.
The first one I used a bit of gold in the brown to get a different color and I imagined people chatting at a cafe and the weird sort of things one might overhear there. Chocho Chacha I call it and it is a favorite of mine since I don’t often use words in my art. These Three are all done on F8 paper using acrylic paint.
Cafe Mocha is one of those drinks I only have every now and then. A bit of a puritan I tend to have coffee black and hot chocolate just as it is and dont mix it. But there is a time and a place for everything and every now and then I just want a really creamy mocha.
The Third one I did just after coming back to Tokyo is perhaps the one that is closest to how I imagine the chocolate covered Coffee bean. I once ate way too many of them when I was a student in London and could not figure out why I couldn’t get to sleep…….hahahahahha
For the two last paintings I wanted to get even more experimental with my watercolors and see what would happen if I moved away from the Yellow and did Brown on Brown. I went back to a smaller size paper and to my crayons again and worked with some patterns I kept seeing in my head. To me this came out very much the color and taste of cinnamon which fits perfectly not only with coffee but also with Fika since we often take it with cinnamon rolls.
I hope you enjoy the Fika collection and the chocolate covered coffee beans as well!