Unleashing Her Dreams
An Interview with I.T. Hammar
I.T. Hammar is a 17-year old Norwegian
artist whose vision and skill are way beyond her years. She's a
prolific painter, overflowing with ideas for figurative and surrealist
works. Learn how she got started and what makes her tick as she
shares her perspective in this interview. — Editor
Where did you learn your art skills?
Did you attend art school?
I never went to any particular art school before
I started the Art & Design Course in senior high school. I have always
been learning on my own, with a little guidance I had from the arts and
crafts teachers in school ever since I started. I have been depending
on books, and any other sources I could find.
Did you have a mentor?
I have had no real mentors before last year, when
I got in touch with an American oil painter, who I have been corresponding
with every time I have had a question about techniques, materials and
so on. When starting Art and Design last year, though, I got a teacher
who really burned for her subjects, not even being educated as a teacher,
but being a ceramicist. And she has taught me some of the most valuable
information for my work so far, together with what I have learned from
my teacher in America. So I also started attending her art course in my
spare time to see if I could absorb some more knowledge from her whenever
When did you first start drawing?
I guess the interest for drawing as art—and not just drawing for
the sake of drawing—started somewhere in fourth grade, on the occasional
times the whole class went to the library to borrow books. I found this
wonderful corner with only art and hobby books that I completely fell
in love with. I found a book called something like The Big Drawing Book.
I started flipping pages looking for something I could imitate and learn
from. I first went through pages of landscapes and animals that I did
not find interesting. Then eventually on some of the last pages in the
book, there were the figure drawings. I immediately knew I had found my
thing. I started out just imitating them, then later drawing more freely.
Why do you find figures to be interesting subject
Well, I have always found them interesting. It might
be because of the shapes in the body, or simply that the body is such
an important part of a human, and what we relate to bodies as well. I
am not completely sure. But one thing is certain. I will always keep the
human body as one of my favorite subjects, and continue to explore it.
constitutes a captivating pose?
Anything can be a captivating pose to me, but I think
often they are intricate, complicated, or in some way make themselves
full of potential—something to work with. Things like particular
curves that show muscles, folds, and overlapping make a pose interesting
to work with, and eventually give me that sudden idea of something I want
How do you develop ideas for a composition?
Many times I start out with pictures, a pose that
appeals to me, whether it is from someone else or one I have modeled or
shot myself. But once I have a pose that appeals to me, this is usually
where the idea comes along, from what I see in the pose itself, what associations
I have around it. It is always exciting to see what I end up with, and
then try to interpret it myself.
What themes are
you pursuing in your artwork?
Lately I am working with surrealistic and fantasy
pieces, where I am trying to unleash my dreams and subconscious thoughts,
and bring them to the surface. I work a lot with eggs as a subject that
goes through my works, at least for now. I like to use them because they
can be a symbol of several things concerning life, death, potential, etc.
sort of message do you wish to communicate through your art?
There is not necessarily a particular message I want
to deliver to others in my paintings, because mostly they are messages
to myself, as I can explore my own mind through them, and figure out the
message as I look at the finished works. These are built through free
associations, thoughts, current feelings, and so on, that together make
an image possible for myself to explore.
What reaction from a viewer makes you happiest?
Actually, I enjoy a variety of reactions. Like for
a surreal painting, I could very well both like to see the viewer burst
out in laughter as well as see them really dig into the thoughts of the
painting and tell me what they think is the
story in the painting or feelings behind. I usually get from five to ten
very different interpretations of a painting, but usually they all have
something very true in them about why I actually did what I did, which
always catches my interest.
do you think is the purpose of an artist?
The artist's purpose is to come up with great ideas,
while the craftsman's purpose is to make them complete though a process
of technique. However, an artist that is a good craftsman, as I hope to
be, is blessed indeed!
Who are your favorite artists?
Well, of course I am into the old masters, and many
of them too, like Da Vinci, Rafaello, Escher, Magritte, Dali and more
like them that have a very clean style with fine lines. But I also adore
Munch, Monet and other artists that use far thicker lines and have a completely
different style from what I mostly want to accomplish throughout my studies.
At the moment I am aiming for a kind of veristic surrealism, that you
can compare with Dali and Magritte, which is naturalistic objects and
people, put into a strange associated combination. However, I try not
to study other surrealists, as sooner or later that might bring me to
copy them more than learning from them, as I already have a lot of ideas
but need to work on how to execute them.
What is your favorite media?
I really love working in oil paint, as it gives so
many opportunities for me. I like the way it takes time to dry, so that
I have good time to mix colors and shades into it while working on a piece,
and it is so flexible considering you can thicken it, thin it, make it
dry faster, slower, and make it do whatever you want. For some reason
there is also something wonderful about the smell of oil paints—
it just sets the mood right.
What is your favorite surface?
I usually take what I can get a hold of, even though
I really love working on canvas. I just adore the texture of it!
How do you know when a piece is done?
In fact, I guess I never do. Sometimes I lose interest.
Sometimes it simply screams “show me” and I know I have to
finish it. I guess I could always work more on all my paintings, as I
never really get satisfied, but I learn something more from each piece
that will make the next better. And I just have so many ideas. If I would
never finish a work, I would never get to start another one.
As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges
or obstacles you face when making your art?
Well, I am young, so I have not met many obstacles
yet. To me the biggest problem is actually just where to put the pictures,
as it is not always easy to find a new home for all of them.
How has your work evolved over the years?
I think my work has evolved enormously since I started,
and even every year I can really see the change. It is only these last
years that I really feel it too. These past months I have developed
a lot and simply realized that nothing is impossible. Of all I want to
make, I can do it all! It is a very good feeling to have, to only have
to worry about the ideas, and at the moment not even those, as they are
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Simply to work hard and always look at what you can
do better in order to thrive even more.
How can one acquire your work?
Contacting me, preferably on my email i.the.hammargmail.com.
Do you accept commissions?
I do, but only to some extent as I need to have time
for my school work.
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with
me about your art today.