Who is Erik? / Biography

I was born in April 1985 outside a small town called Götene in the middle south of Sweden. I grew up on a farm with my parents and two younger sisters and I spent a lot of time in nature. For as long as I can remember I have liked drawing. Maybe because of my grandmother who was a painter, or maybe because that's how I always liked to express myself. When my mom asked me how my day in school was I would rather draw a comic showing how it was. My dad got a computer for work already in the mid 80's so I also early developed an interest in computers, mostly by escaping to other worlds through computer games. At the age of 15 I got my first digital camera, a very simple point-and-shoot Fuji camera, but it opened up a new world to me. Being used to the process of drawing it felt quite strange to be done after capturing a photo, it wasn't the process of creating something in the same way as drawing. You didn't start with a white empty paper, once you pressed the trigger you were done. I felt like I wanted to do something more to the photos, where pressing the trigger would only be the start. Having an interest in computers made it quite a natural step to start there. I was playing around with the photos in the computer trying to create something that you couldn't capture with the camera, mostly very basic modifications like changing color or putting my little sisters on our roof top. That is how my interest in photo manipulation started, I learned by trying but it wouldn't become a profession until years later.

Q:Where did you learn how to create these images?

I hI am self-taught in both photography and retouch. I discovered that it was fun to change and modify photos for fun in the year 2000 when I got my first digital camera. I've always been drawing for as long as I can remember and when I got the camera I felt like I wanted to do something more with the photos. I started playing around with the photos in the computer and discovered photo manipulations.  For me the realism has always been very important and it’s a challenge to make a sketch come to life in a photo. I learned by trying, it took some time and I'm still learning but when you learn the basics of the tools it’s just the imagination that sets the limits.

Q:Where do you find inspiration?

I get inspiration from all things around me. Anything from things I see in my daily life to other artist’s work and music. I think it’s a lot about looking at the world from a different perspective. I get more inspiration from painters rather than photographers. Here are some websites and blogs I visit regularly for inspiration:


What people inspires you?

Here are some artists that inspires me…
Salvador Dali – Spanish surrealist painter
M.C. Escher – Dutch graphic artist
René Magritte – Belgian surrealist artist
Rob Gonsalves – Canadian painter
Jacek Yerka – Polish painter
Shaun Tan – Australian illustrator
Mattias Adolfsson – Swedish illustrator
Sven Nordqvist – Swedish illustrator/author
Thomas Öberg - Singer in bob hund

Q:What is your background? Have your studied photography/retouch?

I studied computer engineer at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden 2005-2010. I graduated in 2010 with a master in Interaction Design.

I've always had a big interest for both drawing and computers. I think that is one if the reasons why it was a natural step for me to modify the photos in the computer. Photography and retouch always felt more like a hobby so I choose the engineering path instead. As I finished my studies in 2010 I already worked part time as a freelance doing work for some smaller jobs for advertisement agencies in Sweden. Although I still find interaction design and UX a very interesting subject, photography and retouch is my passion and what I love. That made me become photographer/retoucher on fulltime when I graduated.

Q:I want to learn to combine photos and photoshop like you do, what advice do you have?

I believe that the best way of learning is by trying, maybe you don’t learn the fastest or correct way, but at least you learn what the different tools do and what YOU can do with them. To become good requires a lot of patience and practice and there are no shortcuts. Try to find your style and search for tutorials online to get started on specific techniques. Good materaial is the key to get a good looking result, start shooting all the material yourself, you don't need a fancy camera to get started! Most importantly, don't create what you THINK people want, create what YOU want. Good luck, have fun!

Q:Do make any tutorials?

 No, just google Photoshop tutorials. If you understand Swedish I would strongly recommend the Swedish website Moderskeppet. They have tons of resources and explain in a very simple understandable way. Their gold membership gives you access to tons of video tutorials in other Adobe softwars as well.Q:Can I use or licence your photos for my album cover / book / presentation / product etc?
No, I don't licence my personal work. All my personal projects are not to be commercialized or connected to any product or brand in any way. It's important to me that they are stand alone projects without a connection to anything. If you like my style I do accept commissioned projects. Just get in touch with my Agent if you have a project in mind, contact info on the contact page.

Q:Do you accepts commissioned projects?

Yes, just contact my Agent if you have a project in mind, contact info on the contact page.

    Q:Can I buy signed prints or posters of your personal work?

    Yes! I have three different prints. A small open edition print, not signed or numbered. I also have limited edition prints available in two sizes and editions. All prints look great regardless the size. To find out more about the prints just have a look at the shop.

    Q:Do you have a book about your work?

    Yes! It's a beautiful book containing my best works so far. It's called "IMAGINE" and is available in many book stores and on amazon.com. You can find out a bit more about the book here.

    Q:Do you work full time with photography and retouch?

    Yes, I try to find time to work with personal projects as well but the commissioned projects are what I do for a living. Although my personal projects are what I love it’s fun and challenging to realize other peoples ideas as well. Sadly, I don’t spend as much time on my personal work as I would like to.

    Q:How would you describe your style?

    Photo realistic surrealism. Surreal ideas realized in a realistic way with a touch of humor. I can’t really say that I've decided what I want my style to look like. It becomes what it becomes, I just realize the ideas that come to my mind and I didn't chose develop a specific style to make that happen.

    Q: Does music play a role in your work?Music is a very important part of my work. I always listen to music when I do the post production, mostly electronic music as it gets me into a good flow. You’ll find a spotify playlist here: Erik Johansson Spotify

    Q:What do you do when you're not working? Do you have any hobbies?

    I go bouldering sometimes, running when I can and sometimes swimming in the morning. I used to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for three years and I would love to take that up again. I enjoy good restaurants, playing guitar and seeing new places. I also like cat videos.








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    The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.