Artist of the Month in the sales department - Ivar Papadopoulos Samuelsen

May 1, 2024

Artist of the Month is a monthly interview series where Tegnerforbundet introduces a member who is represented with artwork in our Sales Department. With this initiative, we want to give readers an insight into the members' artistic work and highlight the importance of drawing in their work.


Ivar Papadopoulos Samuelsen (1950) is an artist with a varied background, including as an illustrator, book designer, author and art director in an advertising agency. He is also an adventurer, with several spectacular journeys behind him. The combination of his literary background, thirst for exploration and visual art is evident in his narrative drawings. From a distance, these drawings look like photographic reproductions inspired by beautiful nature and forests. You have to stop and study the drawings, because the details contain completely different associations. They are meticulously drawn with great detail and imagination. Samuelsen is represented in several art collections, has been purchased by public institutions and has a long history of exhibitions.

TF: Ivar, can you tell us a little about your artistic work?  

IPS: I am originally trained as an illustrator and graphic designer. Because of this training, in addition to producing images for exhibitions, I also worked for a number of years as an illustrator, graphic designer and educator. Eventually, the artistic work took over, and for the past 12 years I have only worked on producing images for exhibitions and sales. I love details and spend a lot of time on each piece. The techniques I use are drawing on paper (marker and charcoal) and acrylic paint on canvas. I have held several solo exhibitions both in Norway and Greece, as well as participated in many collective exhibitions, including the State Autumn Exhibition and the Eastern Norway Exhibition. I have been purchased by several public institutions, am represented in art collections and have received many grants.

TF: Why do you draw? Tell us a little about your work process.

IPS: I draw because I've always drawn and because I enjoy the creative process. At the same time, it's a way to explore your surroundings, to understand and see things more deeply than by looking around you.

The work usually starts with an idea, or at least a theme. Once this is in place, I take out my camera to get reference images, not to slavishly copy the photographs, but to see and explore the details that I want to use in the work. Back in the studio, I compose and sketch out the main elements of the image in pencil. Then begins a meticulous and time-consuming detail work that I really enjoy. I usually start in the top left-hand corner of the composition and painstakingly work my way forward. All the drawings are done with a thin black felt-tip pen (0.2 or 0.3 mm). If the drawings are to be colored, this is done at the end, after the motif has been drawn with the marker.

TF: What or who inspires you? Can you name any artists who inspire you?

IPS: Nature is a great source of inspiration with its diversity of forms and aesthetics.

I am inspired by many artists in different genres from Leonardo da Vinci to the present day. The essential thing is that the works touch me in one way or another. If I were to dare to highlight someone among today's artists, it would have to be Sverre Malling, the Swede Lars Lerin and Arne Samuelsen. The latter is my twin brother. His subtle images have inspired and taught me a lot, despite the fact that his paintings belong to a different style to my own work.

Exhibitions are also an important source of inspiration. In addition to the galleries I select myself, I meet old colleagues for a regular gallery day once a month.

TF: What themes concern you as an artist?

IPS: It varies, but in one way or another, nature is always present as an important element in the images. Regardless of the subject and theme, the details play an important role for me. They help to deepen and give a greater understanding of the subject.

When I work on a theme, I want to illuminate it from several angles and usually end up with a series consisting of many works. A few years ago, when I focused on the forest, I ended up with a series of well over 100 drawings with fragments from Norwegian forest environments. Other series can consist of anything from six or seven to several dozen works.

TF: What is the role of drawing today?

IPS: Drawing has been and still is an important communication and dissemination platform, both for pure information and as artistic expression. As in the past, newspaper drawings are an important means of conveying political messages and satire. The drawings are often perceived as lighter and more accurate than a descriptive text. Cartooning has always been popular. Today, the development and modernization of comics has made this genre accessible to all age groups. The drawings enrich and deepen the stories being told. Due to the fact that you only need a pencil or pen and paper to create a work, drawing will always be important. This simplicity makes drawing easily accessible to the practitioner.

TF: What does it mean to draw for you in your work?

IPS: Although I also paint, drawing is what I have worked with the most, both as an illustrator and an artist. Putting lines on the page gives me the least resistance and the most pleasure in the creative process. Lines are movable and distinct and can be shaded into nuances. In short, drawing is what I know best and what gives me the most pleasure. Even when I paint, the motif is first sketched out on the canvas in pencil.

TF: Tell us a little about your work in Tegnerforbundet's sales department!

IPS: The description of the four works: "Associations on a pine trunk", "Associations on a birch trunk", "Associations on a spruce trunk" and "Associations on an oak trunk".

All of these drawings show how seemingly naturalistic forms can evoke associations of something else. The works show sections of tree trunks that at first glance only look like tree trunks, but the images are built up from associations that the shapes in the bark create: faces, naked bodies, genitals and more.

"It's important to me that the distinctive features of the main motifs appear credible, that the associations on which the images are based create illusions of authentic tree trunks, such as a pine or an oak trunk. It is only when you stop and take a closer look at the motifs that the associative elements come to the fore.

The images show a diversity that is richer and different than what the first glance suggests, just as all forms around us have the potential for different interpretations and associations.

The other two works: "Eventyrskog" and "Skogsfragment" also contain elements that are designed for something other than what they claim to be. At first glance, these drawings are perceived only as forest landscapes. Here, too, it is only when you examine the images more closely that the partially hidden elements emerge.


See available works by Ivar Papadopoulos Samuelsen in the webshop.


Image (section): Associations on a birch trunk. Ink pen on paper.