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  • Writer's picturePierre Paslier

Interview with Jan Griffioen-Järfalk

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

GH: We're so curious to find out: who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

Jan: My name is Jan K. Griffioen-Järfalk and I'm based in Stockholm, Sweden. When others solve crosswords, sudokus, or do mindless knitting, I've always been programming. For the last two decades, its been my form of relaxation... and my work – I'm a drop-out interaction designer doing web development.

I like the crossroads of the digital and the analog – where precise logic can meet the imperfections of the real world.

GH: What is the underlying philosophy behind your work?

Jan: I leave much of the creation process to the observer. I merely create a foundation and leave the rest to you.

I follow this idea that great art reveals themselves over time. You don't get them in one look. When you live with them, you go back and back and back again, and they keep on giving.

The paintings are stationary. They are immobile, but changes for you.

GH: Can you pick an artwork and describe your workflow?

Jan: I like the crossroads of the digital and the analog – where precise logic can meet the imperfections of the real world.

I've recently let my very precise AxiDraw V3/A3 pen plotter do very unprecise things with acrylic paint and a paintbrush.

This piece is called Forest II and is in a series of paintings where I let my plotter do 500 perfectly straight brushstrokes.

I've coded a piece of software that makes it fetch paint, draw a stroke, and repeat 500 times. I've almost done a hundred of these, and three of them came out as forests.

To me, this piece has two positions. Either you are in the dark forest looking out at the clearing, or you are out in the light wondering what's lurking in the dark.

GH: What's been inspiring you lately?

Jan: I got my current thoughts on abstract art and art in general from Steve Martin (, the actor.

Matthew Daigle (@sporpgores) and Andy Mascaro (@andy.mascaro) have recently inspired me to do AI-assisted things. I'm early in the process, but I have this idea to let a piece of software give very detailed instructions to a graffiti artist.

GH: Tell us about your setup. Where do you create? What tools do you use? Jan: The central piece of hardware in my setup is an Evil Mad Scientist Axidraw V3/A3 pen plotter – I love it! It's fast, hits fractions of a millimeter, and it has been very reliable.

Besides that, and my Macbook Pro, it depends... I usually code my own software. Most of the time, it is something coded in Javascript that generates SVG files.

Right now, when I'm doing things with acrylic paint, the SVG files act as a complete control set for my plotter. The SVG contains not only the actual piece but how and where it should fetch paint. If I'm not doing acrylic with a paintbrush, my go-to pen is a refillable 0,2mm Rotring Isograph. The refillable part is key since I often use a whole pen... and they are expensive. If I'm doing white on black, I can't recommend the Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip K118 enough. Not to expensive, great flow and super fun.

– Jan K. Griffioen-Järfalk, Stockholm, Sweden

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