Copenhagen Graphic Designer and Illustrator
One of the very super cool things that you need to embrace when you move yourself around the world is opening up to all the interesting people that you may have the opportunity to meet. They make a place what it is. Connect you to it. Share your stories, listen to theirs. Learn. Explore.
Me? I’m a people person. But you may have figured that out. I love swapping stories. Learning new perspectives. Figuring out how your from impacts your here and now. In my new blog series – meet the locals – I wanted to give you personal stories about real people. Connect you to my here. Today I am so happy to introduce you to one of them. Her name is Mai-Britt Amsler and she is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
If you live here, you may already know her work. Remember this Kulturnatten poster that was all over town promoting the city’s annual culture night last October? Mai-Britt was the artist. She was selected by the København Kommune to design the promotional material and she jumped right in.
I fell for the whimsical, charming and happy joie de vivre and it now hangs on my wall. Mai-Britt set out to create something that would make people smile. And doesn’t it? It does me.
Mai-Britt loves bringing a sense of humor to her work. To achieve this, she utilizes vintage magazines from the 1950’s frequently. The images and advertisements from that era have a special attraction for her. She loves the way the people don’t just smile, they SMILE. And when you extract that overemphasis and place it in a different context, like Mai-Britt does in her work, it is fun.
Mai-Britt herself is a graduate of the Danish Design School and was raised by parents who were also designers. But she didn’t always want to be a graphic designer or artist and didn’t start drawing until later. As a child, she envisioned herself a writer when she grew up. Now she tells stories with her images, offering design for magazine articles and books.
You may be familiar with Danish design and its hugely popular and far reaching influence. But when I asked if her style was characteristically “Danish,” she laughed and said she uses
… too many colors to be Danish.” – Mai-Britt Amsler
She believes that Nordic design, if there is such a thing, trends towards clean simple lines and softer pastel colors. She has always liked using bright colors in her work. Surprisingly her bright and happy style is more welcome here in Denmark than when Mai-Britt studied in Switzerland, where her palette was somewhat shocking to the designers there. In contrast to the Copenhagen school where you had to pay for every print you made and the color prints cost more – at the Swiss school, all the prints were free. As many as you wanted. Including the color ones. She was always wondering why no one was using the color printer. It’s FREE people. Clearly not impressed with her bright work at that time, she retained the printer all to her self.
I am impressed with her bright work. And what I love is the mix of designed and illustrated elements. This combination wasn’t always easy. She was conflicted in school and pressed by teachers to decide – what are you? A graphic designer? Or an illustrator? She wanted to do both. Now luckily, she often gets projects where she can do both. For Mai-Britt, these are the most interesting and exciting. There is an organic quality to her compositions, being able to layer graphic work with hand drawn elements that she scans and digitally colors.
Mai-Britt works out of a light filled studio in the Kødbyen (Meatpacking) district of Copenhagen, but also spends time weekly getting her hands dirty screen printing in Nørrebro at the Biblioteket Rentemestervej, an amazing resource housed in the public library. Screen printing is her yoga. It requires time. You have to wait and hold for the steps in the process. She likes this. It is meditative almost. In the digital world, she can keep working, clicking though, moving things, re-coloring, changing the design. There is a slow quality and permanency to the print making process that she finds balance in. I love the idea of carving out dedicated time to make something.
Where can you find what Mai-Britt makes? She has a webshop and occasionally sells at art markets around Copenhagen. Follow her colorful feed on Instagram here. A huge thank you to Mai-Britt for welcoming me into her corner of the world for a bit and sharing her process and art. Cheers from Denmark, Erin.