The Prince of Narcissism

Current exhibition runs from april 18 to may 9.
Video interveiw in the bottom of the page!

Jon Arne BergEmpty Frame presents “The Prince of Narcissism” an exhibition by Jon Arne Berg / Jab, a young, creative, talented graphic designer and illustrator from Oslo, Norway.

He is just finishing his bachelor degree in Visual Communication at the Art Academy in Oslo, and is a fresh input to the design industry. He loves to draw, and always carries a couple of sketchbooks in his backpack.

With the exhibition “The Prince of Narcissism” Jab shows how he developed his style through self-portraits over the last few years. He has a playful pencil line and is constantly trying to explore new styles. All portraits are unique and have a story – They reflect a state of mind or a situation in a fascinating way.

I am impressed with Jab´s work and I want to find out more about him, so we had a chat.
When did you realise that you wanted to work in the field of graphic design?
I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember. All my note books from school are filled with small sketches around the actual school work. And I always wrapped my reading books in plain brown paper so I could use it as another little sketch pad. My initial dream was to become a comic book creator. I made small comics with short stories inspired by Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible and Sherman’s Lagoon.

But I think it was around the time when I had to decide which high school I wanted to apply to I realised what I wanted to do with my life. I guess I was 15 years old. I had started skating (rollerblading) a year before, making little edits with my crew called Crewscontrol (yes, we were that cool). I remember I made a crew logo that looked horrible, but I really digged it at the time.
So I was as happy as can be when I realised there was a school where I could do the things I loved to do and hopefully learn even more!

“I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember”

I have seen lots of your stuff online, and I love your type work. Will there be more type experiments in the future?
Definitely, yes. I’m in the middle of learning Fontographer now, so I’m working on my first writeable font ever.
I enjoy drawing letters, and I enjoy working with type in general. It’s a relatively new-found love that emerged after I started my graphic design education at Westerdals here in Oslo almost five years ago. Even though it doesn’t come as natural for me as drawing and illustration does, it has become a big part of my life that I truly love.

After talking to a friend of yours I got the impression that you are extremely productive. Do you work when others sleep? Or do you go on for a few extra hours in a day?
 I try to always complete my projects some time before deadline, so I don’t need to have that horrible feeling of pressure laying over me. But I guess it all depends on what I’m working on. I can have one project going that I have to do, and at the same time I can start one or two other things that I don’t really need to finish or even start at that time. But if it’s something I really want to do I find the time for it and prefer working on this rather than meeting friends or getting a full night’s sleep.
I’ve always enjoyed my own company, maybe that’s why I don’t mind skipping out on the social part of life from time to time to work on my projects.

So when do you find yourself being most creative?
When I have a delicious, green apple, a big mug of coffee, an Egon Schiele book, my little Moleskine book, a bigger sketchbook, colored pencils (which makes even the dullest doodles more exciting!) and somewhere to sit with a nice view.

Lately, that has been happening quite often!

Will you continue to draw self portraits? If so, why?
Of course I will. That’s what I do when I don’t know what to draw, but still feel the need to do it. It’s not like I’ll never have the problem again after this exhibition. It’s a way for me to relax and not think about the end result of a sketch or drawing.



If you could draw yourself as a superhero, what kind of superpowers would you have? And what would you look like?
I don’t think I’ll ever draw myself as a superhero. If so it would be a superhero with normal clothes and a lanky body. So a normal self portrait.

Do you have any artists/designers/illustrators you admire, that inspires you?
My number one source of inspiration is Egon Schiele – an Austrian painter that sadly died at the age of 28 in 1918. His confident pencil and ruthless portraits never stops fascinating me.

Lars Fiske and Steffen Kverneland are two Norwegian illustrators that really captured my interest through the Kanon series. Their totally different styles are connected in a perfect harmony through these publications.
There are loads of other people I admire and look up to, but too many to mention here.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A lot, I hope. It’s difficult to say what, but one of the things I really want to do is to make some sort of comic book/graphic novel. All in all, I think the future will be awesome.

Empty Frame: Jon Arne Berg from Jonas Bødtker on Vimeo.

Empty Frame presents “The Prince of Narcissism” an exhibition by Jon Arne Berg / Jab, a young, creative, talented graphic designer and illustrator from Oslo, Norway.
Jab’s porfolio:
Twitter: @jonarneberg
Twitter: @ThatEmptyFrame

Beats by the very talented Maximoe. Check out more of his stuff here:
Requests and Inquiries:
Twitter: @m4ximoe