Mats Vänehem

I started off as an illustrator in 1990. I had just completed a year of basic art training at Sörängens folk high-school in Småland, Sweden, when I was employed by an illustration studio in Stockholm. I worked for different clients like various advertising agencies, publishers of encyclopedias, science- and schoolbooks.

A couple of years later I began my studies at Stockholm University with Archaeology and Ethnology as main subjects. With a Bachelor´s Degree (Cultural Studies Program, 180 ECTS) I was employed by the Stockholm County Museum in 1996. I stayed for 15 years, working as an archaeologist with commissioned surveys, excavations, exhibitions and a number of different information projects in the Stockholm area.

However, I continued to work part time as an illustrator, now more focused on historical reconstructions and environments. The combination of practical experience from field archaeology and a foothold in the world of museums, opened up doors to new clients like curators at historical museums, publishers of books and magazines for popular science all over Sweden.  

In 2011 I started working full time as a freelance illustrator. The spectrum of clients now became somewhat broader. For example, between 2015 – 2017 I was contracted as expert illustrator and artistic supervisor for the creation of the scenography in the darkride “Ragnfrid´s Saga”, at Vikingaliv in Stockholm.

For shorter periods of time, I’ve worked abroad with foreign partners and my illustrations nowadays can be seen in books, magazines and at exhibitions all around the world.

For about ten years I ‘ve been making Children’s Books, published by Bonnier Carlsen. I illustrate a series of books for early readers called Riddarskolan (The School for Knights), written by Magnus Ljunggren. I have both written and illustrated two books on archaeology for kids: Hitta historien (Finding History) and Vikingar (Vikings). I also illustrate a series of books about a Viking Age boy and a girl called Halvdan & Meia, written by Martin Widmark. 

My own books, as well as Riddarskolan and Halvdan & Meia, are translated to different languages and published in Europe, The Middle East and China. From October 2018 the feature movie Halvdan Viking (Halvdan the Viking) can be seen on cinemas in Sweden.

Photo: Christine Olsson