I am in the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Halmstad, Sweden, working before we head further south. The hotel is tormenting me by playing bad music that gets stuck in my head. In Halmstad, they also play music on the pedestrian street in the city centre. I guess they are afraid of silence here.

I recently illustrated a family for the project I’m working on. The characters I am currently drawing in various situations, while dreadful soul music disturbs my concentration. But a professional is naturally above that kind of environmental destruction. I swear inwardly at our age’s fear of silence but draw anyway.

I have created the family with the precision of a novelist. Nothing must be left to chance. Hairstyles, posture and clothing must match the age, socio-economic status and the time they live in. Eventually, they start living and put on the jackets, hats and shoes they want. Then I feel that I have succeeded.

In today’s sketch, the neighbour’s daughter has just rang the doorbell and the mother of the family has opened the door. There are alcohol problems in the neighboring family and the girl is locked out. There is a lot to be woven into such an illustration. It’s a situation you can’t be careless with! Everything it holds must be seen in their eyes and facial expressions, but also in how they stand with each other. Despite the enervating background music, in the end, I am satisfied with the illustration – I feel that the girl in the illustration is sad and that the mother in the door wants to help her. A meeting occurs in the illustration. I want the viewer to feel that the girl can immediately come to them and that they take care of her, even if this is not shown in the illustration.

Satisfied with today’s work, I pack up pads and pencils and we head to the car to drive on to Helsingborg. I hope it’s quieter there.

Mattias is an author, editor and illustrator