Christian Hovden Bloom (b. 1973, Southport, England) is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Bloom has made a name for himself as a cartoonist, where he depicts his surroundings with a sharp and satirical pen. He is an outstanding storyteller who comments on current social debates through precise analyses. He does this with a good aesthetic eye and with precise use of light and colour. Each illustration from Bloom has a carefully planned composition, where all details interact with the overall expression. The drawings are characterized by a slightly caricatured realism. Bloom works widely with book covers, record covers, comics, newspaper illustrations and with graffiti art under the pseudonym Coderock. He has won the award for the year's newspaper drawing in 2017 and in 2021. Christian Bloom currently lives and works from Fredrikstad.
TF: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic work?
CHB: I have worked as a freelance illustrator since 1998. For the past ten years, I have primarily been a newspaper illustrator.
TF: Why do you draw? Tell us a little about your work process.
CHB: Hard to give any sensible answer here. I draw because I draw, because it's what I do for a living, because I've never really done anything else.
As a newspaper cartoonist, the work process is ritualistic and simple: Read the sent text, get an idea, draw a sketch, clean up digitally, deliver within the deadline. The idea work is the most important part, the most frustrating and sometimes the most satisfying, the one that gives energy to the rest of the process.
I'm trying to find a simple metaphor for what (I think) the matter is about. One of life's many small defeats is delivering something that I know is a bad idea, but the deadline trumps everything. It also determines how detailed the final drawing can be. For VG Helg, I had one working week per drawing, and could generally take my time. The shorter the deadline, the simpler the drawing, the more I have to trust my gut feeling.
TF: Can you name any cartoonists/illustrators who inspire you?
CHB: Carl Barks, Franquin, Will Eisner, all the comics I read as a kid. This is what a line should look like, says my subconscious. That is the basic grammar. Finn Graff, Marvin Halleraker and Siri Dokken have set the standard for newspaper drawing. Nowadays, I'm probably as inspired by (and envious of) good ideas as good drawings: Riki Blanco, André Carrilho, John Cuneo, Liana Finck — and here at home, Åge Peterson and Egil Nyhus, in addition to Marvin and Siri.
TF: What themes concern you as an artist?
CHB: Humanity in a world heading off the cliff.
TF: What kind of role do newspaper drawing and illustration have today?
CHB: Exposed. For newspaper cartoonists, there are fewer permanent positions, money must be saved and the editors do not seem very motivated to bring the cartoonists over to the online newspapers — and online the reactions come so quickly and harshly that even large heavyweight newspapers get cold feet and stop publishing satirical cartoons altogether . It doesn't look bright for illustration either, at least not for paid illustration jobs: Why hire an unpredictable draftsman when AI services such as DALL-E and Midjourney already deliver perfectly competent results? In five years, they will have taken over much of the commercial market. The illustrator of the future manipulates algorithms.
TF: What does drawing mean to you in your work?
CHB: Drawing has become a tool, and is no longer the end in itself. I draw to communicate, not to draw.
TF: Tell us a little about your work in the Tegnerforbundet's sales department!
CHB: In 2016 I started creating a weekly double page for VG Helg, and the large format (and the time I had at my disposal) opened up new possibilities — I could use colors, textures, light and moods in a way that was perhaps not so common in newspaper drawing. In total there were over 250 drawings, last year I published a book with 150 of them - and the ones hanging in the sales department are still among my favorite ones.