Oskar Mannberg and Victoria Sundqvist creates art on both skin and houses. This summer, they gave Boden a new face with their mural painting on Brogatan. It gave a craving for more to the people of Boden, so next year even more street art is planned.
Oskar Mannberg and Victoria Sundqvist are 32 years old and grew up together in Bodforsen. They went to primary school together, then high school and they chose the same career as a tattoo artist. Victoria moved to Stockholm but they were reunited at a tattoo fair in Umeå a few years ago and have kept in touch since then. In January, she came home to visit and worked for a few days in Oskar’s studio. While they were sitting there, Oskar got a picture of Victoria’s wall art on Instagram. He saw his white walls and hatched the idea of painting something together in the studio, or maybe a road tunnel. The idea grew, he called the municipality and so it began.
At the communications office, they had already been thinking about this for a while, so they got excited and the level of ambition was raised. The first proposal was to paint a wall at the sport hall at Sandenskolan. Later it turned out that the surface was not appropriate for painting and it was important to arrange a new wall very quickly. The answer was a pop-up painting on Brogatan 11-13, one of the houses in the Narcissen neighborhood in the middle of Boden that will be demolished in a few months.
– When they contacted me about the other wall, I said: “Of course, let’s go”, Oskar remembers.
Victoria has the technique of using spray paint well incorporated in her body, in the winters she paints paintings and in the summers she paints walls. Her latest mural was made during the street art festival No Limit: Artscape Edition Borås in September.
– What I like about spray painting is that it is so free and big. When you tattoo, everything is small and close, but when you paint a wall, there are very large movements and a lot of artistic freedom, says Victoria.
For Oskar, the technique was something completely new. Before the big assignment, he bought some spray cans with different nozzles to practice at home in the garage.
– It was the first time I held a spray can. The second time was on the wall. I like that kind of thing, when it’s a swan jump out and you do not know what you land in. I stood as a question mark half the first day, I was the intern, says Oskar.
The wall was painted during four intense days in July and the first day the sky offered radiant sun. Then the green background was painted and the various motifs were sketched in their full size. Then the weather changed and for three long days the artists fought against cold, rain and wind.
– Spray can and wind was not a great combo, it was a bit hard but you had to be inventive. It was a cool experience to go from getting something on the skin that you can see from half a meter to inflating a fox that is two meters high and trying to understand the proportions. There was a lot that I discovered while working. It is a completely different method than I am used to, but it worked, says Oskar.
Oskar solved the practicalities on site with the municipality and Victoria was responsible for the sketch and layout.
– I tried to take the viewer through a landscape and adapt the painting to all windows and balconies by including many different motifs. We tried to do something colorful that you will be happy to look at, and animals and nature are close to the hearts of the people of Boden, says Victoria.
Both have defined styles that recur in both their tattoos and murals. Oskar’s hallmark is textures close to reality and he likes to choose motifs from the forest. Victoria’s style is cuter, with wide-eyed animals, birds and insects among the favorite motifs. During the summer, some of her creations have also been seen in the form of rubs that will help children not to itch on their mosquito bites. Her colorful style is often described as new school in the tattoo world.
– New school has emerged from the graffiti scene when they started making characters for the text with thick lines and clear colors. So I tried painting once five or six years ago and got stuck, says Victoria.
Victoria is the artist behind the ladybug, the snail, the bird, the strawberries and the mushrooms while Oskar painted the fox, the forest behind it and the beetle.
– Even though we have different styles, it feels like they get married very well and a graphic contrast is created, says Victoria.
They are both very happy with the result and the people of Boden are as well.
– It was great fun to paint in my hometown with one of my oldest friends. It was very fun that the people of Boden were so positive and committed, many came and watched and cheered and felt genuinely happy, says Victoria.
They had not really expected such a nice response, it was a bit of a surprise.
– We received so many comments about how fantastic it was that we felt like we were on cloud 9 for several days afterwards. Understanding that the little we did has given so much joy to others, it’s a great feeling. And that’s a bit what makes you want to do more, says Oskar.
Right now, the property management at Boden municipality is in the process of taking an inventory of the municipality’s properties to find suitable walls to paint on. The plan is for Oskar and Victoria to be allowed to paint more murals in Boden on buildings that are not to be demolished.
– To be able to come back and make more permanent impressions feels great, it would be magical, says Victoria and Oskar feels the same way.
They have many ideas on how they can follow up the city’s long tradition of murals with modern street art that gives the feeling of Boden as it is today. But exactly how it will be remains to be seen.
– Motifs and ideas usually emerge in connection with seeing the wall, you want the motif to harmonize with the surroundings. But I guess it will be a bit of the same theme when we try to portray the essence of Boden, it can certainly be some outdoor motif, says Victoria. #