Graphic artist and designer Stian Hole, born in east Norwegian Hokksund, in 1969, is among Scandinavia’s most innovative picture book illustrators. After finishing his visual communication studies at the National School of Arts and Crafts in Oslo he and his colleagues founded the agency »Blæst Design«, specialising in book design and typography. He has created cover illustrations for novels by well-known authors such as Saabye Christensen, Gaarder and Guillou.
In 2005 Stian Hole published his début in children’s literature, which has received much attention. »Den gamle mannen og hvalen« (t: The old man and the whale) is a picture book about old Cornelius, who lives with his cat Trass on the fjord coast in the high north, not far from his brother Halvor, with whom he hasn’t spoken in years. One day when Cornelius comes upon a stranded whale and cannot carry the giant animal back to sea by himself, he must ask his brother for help. Alluding to Hemingway’s novella »The Old Man and the Sea«, Hole shows the nordic countryside throughout the seasons. He describes the contemplative life of an old man, and tells of bitterness, persistence and the vicissitudes of life. Both naturalistic and surreal, his 3D-like digital montages combine photography, scraps, ornaments, textures and photo-realistic drawings into a strong, poetic composition. Each two-page spread appears as a complete artwork with uncountable decorative elements such as seashells, medals, rubber ducks, tattoo motifs or prehistoric-like whale drawings.
With his second computer graphic artwork »Garmanns sommer« (2006; t: Garmann’s summer), Hole presented an »opulent masterpiece« (»Aftenposten«), which was awarded the Brage Prize among other prizes. He delicately portrays young Garmann’s last carefree summer before he starts school. While the six year-old eagerly awaits the loss of his first tooth, he philosophises with his old aunts about fear and courage, false teeth, bobble hats and skateboards. The author brilliantly confronts linguistic images with visual ones and cultivates a dreamlike yet melancholic world. Hole evokes Garmann’s musings with a new type of graphic language, which is distinguished by an exceptional use of colour, disconcerting portraits and surprising components such as x-ray prints. The author incorporates influences by the German avant-garde of the post-war period, Italian experiments in style, the masters of surrealism, experimental cinema, and design between the two world wars. The jury of the Bologna Ragazzi Award (2007) commented in their statement: »The truly innovative leap accomplished by this book reflects an ability to think outside the box«. In May 2008 his consecutive book »Garmanns gate« (t: Garmann’s street) was published. Stian Hole lives with his family in Oslo.
© international literature festival berlin