Getting to know: Erik Johansson

Written by Rachel L. Ritter & Jessica Harris


Being big fans of great visual design, we were really excited to get the chance to interview image manipulator Erik Johansson.  His work is so amazing, because it plays off the realistic aspect of his original images, which cause them to be very eye-catching when retouched.  Erik is a 27 year old designer who’s been at it since he was 15.  He does it all: he draws, does commissioned artwork, does film work, has a masters in Interaction Design, he captures his own images for projects and Photoshops them all to perfection.

Here is a link to an awesome behind the scenes Erik did on his blog for the image “Cut & Fold”.  Note: Watch in full screen on the 1080p HD setting for the clearest view. (We love us some fast motion videos).  This image alone had 131 layers in Photoshop!


He’s been asked many a question on his history and process, which can be seen in any of these interviews.  Instead we wanted to get a feel for who he is when he’s not behind the camera and computer.  Spoiler alert: he’s just as cool as you would imagine him to be.

All photos courtesy of Erik Johansson

What are some of your favorite magazines right now?

I really enjoy Archive, so many nice photos. But I like a lot of magazines, but usually I just look at the photos, like a kid 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite video game?

Though question, I’m a big fan of the GTA series, but I also enjoy building games like Rollercoaster tycoon, theme hospital and Transport tycoon. (old games). As for new games I think the new hitman is pretty cool!

Which are your 3 favorite manipulations you’ve done and why?

My favorite is always the next one, but if I had to pick 3 I would say fishy island, go your own road and set them free.




It’s really awesome that you’ve done talks at TED. How did you get involved in that?

I was simply contacted by TED and they asked me if I wanted to speak at the conference in London. I thought it could be fun.

Who are some cool people you’ve met while at these conferences?

I met lots of nice people within different fields, e.g. a woman who did a lot of research on 3d-printers, fascinating, one day we’ll be printing everything at home.

What’s your favorite technological gadget (design-wise or not) and how does it help you in life?

A part from camera, computer and flashes that would be my record player. It’s my moms old recordplayer and it’s just beautiful, I love the mechanical parts moving and the sound of the needle hitting the record.

What was the hardest thing about being a freelancer when you just started out? What final advice do you have for freelancers that are newbies? Like us…

It can be a bit hard to get jobs in the beginning, but I think that is a great time to work on personal projects. Try to come up with a personal style and just try to do a lot of projects. You might have to have a job on the side in the beginning but the personal work will hopefully eventually lead to commissioned projects.

Here’s one last video that features Erik, which we thought was also pretty cool to watch.  Email Erik at if you have a project you want him to work on for you or show some love on his Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Thanks so much for being a guest on our blog Erik!
Hope you enjoyed the beautiful images. Let us know which of his designs are your favorite.

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