INTERVIEWS Designed for the universe of Andersen

It was a long and difficult process for artist Per Arnoldi to find a design that illustrates the multiplicity of Hans Christian Andersens collective universe. However, a half-year gestation period, the logo literally opened itself up and became what Arnoldi himself calls understandable, straightforward and banal.

By Fie Sandfeld og Mikkel Stjernberg - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 22 January 2003

It was the images in Hans Christian Andersens works that aroused the curiosity of artist Per Arnoldi, when he was asked to develop a logo for Hans Christian Andersen 2005. For the writers universe is filled with images of flowers, umbrellas, butterflies, books, trees, etc. The problem was that, if Per Arnoldi selected only one of them, it might not necessarily comprehend the whole of Hans Christian Andersens world, and that is what he wanted.

Only after an inner journey of several months into the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen did Per Arnoldi get the idea of plaiting a Danish Christmas heart in order to illustrate the multiplicity of Andersens works, and this became the beginning of a process that changed direction in mid-course and flowed into what is now the official logo of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 project.

The banal
"This lonely man felt such warmth towards his surroundings and was so generous in what he gives us in his tales. So, I thought that the image of a heart could be used. I folded a piece of paper to cut out a heart and, strangely enough, it looked complete in itself.  Without needing to cut any more, it became a book, a butterfly, a flower and a heart. And then it just flew. It just took off from me," says Per Arnoldi.

He hopes that people will view the logo as a symbol in which one may see several things at the same time.  Which it is able to do, because it is a symbol in its own right beyond, of course, being able to do everything that a logo is supposed to do. For example, have the ability to be reproduced in black and white or digitally, etc.

"You can say many things about Andersen, but he was not afraid of banalities. He loved them. Thus, I did not shy away from leaping into the banal in a modern form and, at the same time, have the logo signal that Andersen is not being resurrected but, to the contrary, is still very much alive and kicking."

Arnoldi and Andersen
This is not the first time Per Arnoldi has worked with Hans Christian Andersen. He has previously done a series of pictures for the fairy tale The Top and the Ball, and he has illustrated The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

"However, my interpretations do not have a fraction of the magic Andersen has.  Andersen provides tools with which to navigate in life  for being wistful, in love, happy, melancholy and so on. Then, he polishes these tools until they attain the perfect form  something I admire greatly and a lesson I have taken to heart from Andersen," says Per Arnoldi.

He adds that, in his work on the logo, he has delved as far under Andersens skin as he felt he could come  including by making use of his wife, who is an actress and knows Hans Christian Andersens fairy tales by heart.  For a long period, she told her husband a fairy tale every night, before he went to sleep.

"You almost wish he were alive today with moving pictures, television and the Internet. Think how he could have reached out to the world by telling his stories with the help of todays media.  He could have hit with entire population of the earth with one blow. Isn't it fantastic to think that he, in fact, accomplished this using only paper and pen?"