Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson

Tomas Nilsson is a Stockholm based artist and Oaf collaborator, who’s synonymous abstract shapes feature in our One Man’s Trash collection. Tomas uses mixed media - painting, collage and sculpture to create pieces where colour and form is key.

In his work Tomas is looking for sensation between things and space. Fragments of ideas of everyday life, sounds, the sensation of feeling your big toe without touching it. How thoughts can appear in form of clouds that you can grab and let go of.

We caught up with Tomas in snowy Sweden to learn about his process and how creativity has helped over the past year.

Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson

Describe your lockdown experience in 3 words:

Adaptation, confusion, limitation

The One’s Man’s Trash drop celebrates the eccentric & weird and wonderful collections, do you collect anything?

At the moment I don’t collect anything specific, but I have the soul of a collector, from a young age I’ve been collecting all sorts of stuff, like old coins, etc. I’ve always been interested in random objects, under a long period of time I had all these boxes filled with stuff I found in the streets: notes, people's grocery lists, toys photographs etc. In the beginning of my artistship I collected old photographs found at flea markets for example. I do have trouble letting things go, maybe that’s why I haven’t had like a big collection of just one thing, more collections of random stuff. Today I love my two daughters’ collections of stones, their own made necklaces and bracelets. But also, a lot of their found stuff. Always some stuff in their pockets that I find when doing the laundry. The thought of them picking things up, that interest them, and why.

Many years ago, I'm not sure if it's live and kicking anymore, but there was this magazine called Found Magazine that I enjoyed really much. I think people could send in their found objects, notes etc.

I also like to collect found wooden material that I use in my sculptures. Oh! and also paper of different kinds.

I do collect shapes, and in 2019 I did this zine called scanned collections of shapes used in other compositions for stuff. You can find it here.

Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson

How has the past year affected your creativity? Have any positives come from the limitations?

Well, if I just concentrate on the positive side of it: In the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, I got asked to be a part of a project by Gemma Lloyd called “Around the world in 150 windows”. It’s a book with photos taken by different people from different countries under the period of March-July in 2020. It contains views from people’s windows, balconies, doorways and rooftops. The book was beautifully designed by Eleonora Marton. This project gave me hope in a way, just how people can still connect to each other in these difficult and demanding times. On a more personal note, I actually have been exploring new ways of making my images, not sure if it’s caused by the pandemic or not. But somehow, I found more peace and calm in the studio. A big part of my art practice involves the idea of collaborating with others. Me and two dear friends Olle Halvars and Sebastian Eriksson have this collaborating collective called Studio Käse, which is also the name of our studio. We have been making stuff together for 10 plus years and it's always exciting to work with them. To see their work progressing.

Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson

What’s your best bargain find?

This is a tough one, I don’t do bargains that often, but I have this fixed gear bike now that I really enjoy, not sure if it’s a bargain but the frame is a Bridgestone Shimizu that I bought from a friend this year. I have a few shirts that I bought second hand that I really like. My studio chair is a bargain, I bought it several years ago but I always feel good when I sit on it.

Where do you go/look to find inspiration?

In the studio we have this box filled with paper, like misprints, old paintings etc. I love to just sit at my desk, trying to find new shapes from that box. My studio really gives me inspiration. Also drawing and making stuff together with my daughters, whether it´s building Lego or making crafts. I like to see what people surround themselves with, what they have in their bookshelves. How other artists' studios/ homes look like. I read Apartamento magazine a lot. But also, just flickering around the skateboarding and the fixed gear scene. Being part of that gives me inspiration. I love to watch people cruising around in cities and landscapes. Just to cruise around myself as well. I get a lot of inspiration from just the material that I use. And of course, by other artists. Instagram is kind of boring to say but there is so much great stuff there. I´m pretty active on Instagram, love to talk to people, and find ways to collaborate. It's inspiring to see creators doing their thing, making it happen. Listening to artists speaking about inspiration is a really good inspiration source. Going to the library is always nice, the atmosphere. Looking at books, book covers, children’s books. I'm also inspired by my friend Gudmundur, whose music I’m really into. Every year he says that he will record an album, but it never comes Hopefully he will find time this year.

Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson Lockdown with Tomas Nilsson

What songs/albums have kept you going this year?

The album “studio barnhus Volym 1” – Studio Barnhus
The album “Next thing” - Frankie Cosmos
Trevligt väder - Jonas Lundqvist
Pretender- Black marble
Love letters- Corners
Always then - The KVB
Demands - Makthaverskan
Blue train lines - Mount Kimbie and King Krule
Your light - The Big Moon
Roofied angels - Les Big Byrd
The absence of Birds – The Radio Dept
Min bästa vän - Hanna Järver
The album “Spare Ribs” - Sleaford Mods. Came out this year though but still want to throw it in on the list.

Really miss going to concerts.

Bonus: There is this skateboarder Bobby Puleo, whose art is made from his really impressive collection of found objects around NYC. Love that! Check him out. Thanks for having me.