Barnebys talks to New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Maja Säfström about her creative inspiration, her three favorite auction discoveries and the unique print she is offering Barnebys subscribers the chance to win.
Swedish illustrator and author Maja Säfström has taken the world by storm via her Instagram account Majasbok and New York Times bestselling books. Here she talks to Barnebys about her favorite auction finds, what she's searching for at auction and offers Barnebys newsletter subscribers the chance to win a custom print.
How often do you check auctions?
I really love giving and getting auction items as gifts. My boyfriend and I scroll through the catalogs of auction houses together several times a week. Once I saw a waxed Mulberry coat with a cape, which I then called the "jacket of a lifetime". On Christmas Eve the auction had ended and my guy had bought the jacket. He had bid and (after a hard fight) won the jacket. When we picked it up at the auction house a week later, it was like it was Christmas Eve again.
What are you looking for?
I usually look at auctions with a short time remaining. I like the feeling that you can find treasures in the last minute. After all, it is hopeless to get an item that expires in 12 days. I do not want to risk the emotional investment that can occur if you find an item that then rises too much in price. I like art and ceramics a lot. I look for objects I like more than the brands.
What do you want but never buy?
Children's furniture. I always think it would be so cute for the kids, but I have never bought anything. My father-in-law loves auctions and shares an interest in miniature furniture. He has built a copy of his own house as a playhouse for the children, and it is filled with small cute furniture. He buys the most incredible miniature furniture - including a (fully functioning!) wood stove in cast iron.
What's the best thing about shopping at auction?
There are often great stories when you buy at auction. The first thing I bought was a dresser that was obviously too heavy for me and my assistant to carry, and in addition it did not fit in the car. Some guys in a big van eventually helped me to latch it onto the roof. Once I bought a fragile chandelier that I realized would be very difficult to get home in tact. However, the auction house showed me how to make holes in a moving carton and hang up the crown in it. Ingenious. Another time, I bid on a carpet that I had looked at a lot. However, it became too expensive and the auction ended at an accepted price. I was both sad and relieved afterwards. But then as I walked down the street and pondered, the auction house called and asked if I wanted it for my last bid, so I ended up getting it.
Has any specific artist influenced you in your work?
I have several paintings by artists I don't even know the name of. These fine works of art have really given me inspiration. I also like to think that things can be sold several times and have their own long life after being sold for the first time. The items are for more than one to enjoy.
What do you dream about buying?
We have just remodeled a home and the house was built in the beginning of the century so we were even looking for doors at auctions and at antique dealers. We have bought a rug, an armchair, chest of drawers and a sofa among other things, all at auction. One thing I always look for is Yngve Ekström's Laminostol. We had one when I was a kid and every time I see it I think about tea and reading books. But it just doesn't fit in my home right now. Maybe I could buy it for my studio…
Maja's 3 Favorite Auction Finds:
1. Kilim Rug. It fits so well in our home and is so very nice.
2. A lithograph by Jockum Nordström. It was a birthday present that I had checked out many times, but never thought I'd get because it was so expensive. I really like it a lot.
3. Mulberry jacket. I called it the jacket of lifetime when I saw it. And it really is. I wear it as often as I can.
Win a unique illustration by Maja!
This illustration is custom-made for Barnebys and cannot be bought anywhere. Three Barnebys subscribers can win a copy of the print.
For the chance to win you need to subscribe to Barnebys newsletter and then email email@example.com to briefly tell us what Maja's first auction purchase was and why you should win a copy of the illustration.
The competition runs between September 11 and 23. The winners will be announced by e-mail no later than September 27th and will be chosen by Barnebys.