Kånken Art Contest Entry

Update: I won! *\(^o^)/*

Original post:

When Fjällräven announced their art contest to celebrate Svensk Form's recognition of the iconic Kånken bag as a work of art, I knew I had to enter. Fjällräven is a brand I can get behind. I love the design that is present in their products (who doesn't love that cute logo?), but I also appreciate their strong focus on animal welfare and environmental sustainability. In fact, the pattern itself results in almost no fabric waste. Plus, they're taking steps to help the endangered arctic fox. Yay foxes!

I knew from the beginning that I wanted my entry to not only feature the image of the Kånken bag, but also nod to its functionality. After all, good design isn't just how something looks; it's about the ideas it conveys and the problems it solves. In fact, I learned that the Kånken bag was originally designed to combat back problems in school children! I love learning stuff like that. It's great when a product you like has a compassionate story behind it.

In planning my piece,  I thought about the functionality of the bag. When it comes down to it, a bag is a bit of freedom—freedom to keep your hands unencumbered while knowing the things you need are safe and accessible when you need them. And what better way to convey that sense of freedom than through people enjoying the great outdoors?

Once I got the idea to feature hikers, I did some research on Swedish national parks. Fjällraven may have locations all over the world, but it's a Swedish brand and I wanted to stay true to that fact. I soon found my inspiration in the meandering waters of Rapasalet, a delta in the Rapa Valley in Lapland. It's so pretty!

 Rapasalet

Rapasalet

I started off by doing some quick thumbnails. When I had one I was happy with, I did a rough sketch to get a better sense of how the various elements would work in the environment.

 Thumbnail

Thumbnail

 Rough Sketch

Rough Sketch

After that, I quickly painted in some rough values to determine how I wanted to light the scene. As you can see, I initially had the hikers smaller, but I felt that it wouldn't allow me to focus on the bags the way I wanted to, so I reworked the foreground and made them bigger. Once that was done I refined the values.

 Rough Values

Rough Values

 Refined values

Refined values

Now to the fun part: Color! I didn't even have to think about the palette I wanted to use, it was all there right in front of me as I browsed through the Kånken bags on Fjällräven's site. So many great colors! I chose the bags that I felt best fit the scene and started painting.

 Color inspiration

Color inspiration

I'm really pleased with how it all turned out. I feel like the pieces really fell into place on this one, and whether my entry is selected or not, I'm super glad to have taken on the project. It was a good learning experience and I think it'll make a nice addition to my illustration portfolio!

Here's the final piece. Scroll down for details!

kanken_detail03.jpg