The first jobs I had as a professional illustrator was coloring comic books and history illustrations for my friend Christian Højgaard. later I got to do the illustrations myself and quit being a colorist and turned into an illustrator. For the first 7 years as a professional I was earning a living doing educational historic book illustrations. That meant painting a lot of vikings, farmers and kings; the bulk of our danish history. For me it was fantastic because vikings smells a lot like fantasy. When I later became a full time fantasy artist I could draw from my huge visual vocabulary of historical equipment and clothing making my fantasy characters feel more real.
I was very honored when Jeannette Varberg from the National Museum of Denmark asked me to be the illustrator of the next huge Viking expo at the museum. I was honored beyond reason and felt like I had reached the top of the mountain of historical illustrations ( that is in my small country anyway ). These were the men and women who had written all the books and research I ever read about my ancestors.
I knew my job would be to give personality and character to these 4 kings and 4 queens that history knew very little about when it came to visual representations. In other words; it was my job to bring them to life and pass through the very narrow eye of the needle of historical correctness. Turned out I knew way less about vikings than I thought I did. But I learned.
First of: Viking is a verb not a noun. Viking os something you do. Its not a Description.
Here is the full 4 couples of queens and kings. First 4 believes in Odin, last 4 ( at least on paper) believes in Christ.
I was invited to the opening by the Danish Queen at the Museum last friday. I was introduced as the artist of her ancestors and she said :” that must have been a very difficult task, I imagine?” I bowed and said: ” Yes, very. But also very fun”…And that was my encounter with our amazing queen. I was nervous and sweating in my hands. her Royal Majesty Margrethe is the ruler of the worlds oldest Kingdom, she is also a painter and an illustrator and she mail corresponded with Tolkien when she was illustrating the danish version of the Lord of the Rings. Thats double up on royalty in my book. Awe is the only feeling that could describe that day for me.
Congratulations, Jesper! That’s a fantastic feather for your cap and a huge inspiration to any kids out there who love history, mythology, and fantasy. Super-excited for you!
Big congratulations from here. Man that is big!!
Congratulations! I imagine it has been a great honour but i’d say it’s a deserved honor, you are an amazing artist and this portraits are great! And thanks for the info about the viking culture. I am a bit curious about the religious detail, is it somehow related to their look? I find the pagan ones more “barbaric”, the christian ones more like middle age nobles, so are they from different historical period?