Interview with Carl Stjärnlov of Diabolical on making art and merchandise for charity!

Carl has been busy lately selling paintings and is donating all profits to an organization helping the most vulnerable during the current Covid19 crisis. We had a catch up with him to discuss his work and inspiration behind his art.

Hey, and thank you so much for your time! These are difficult times for everybody, and thousands of bands and musicians are doing their part to help out during the Covid-19 pandemic. Can you tell me about the charity projects you’ve been working on?

A few weeks ago I had an impulse to start painting. At the same time, I felt frustration from not being able to do anything about the chaos that was going on outside in the world. I had some discussions with the band and we decided to combine my painting with an effort to help the vulnerable during the crisis. So we initiated this art for a charity project where I make paintings which we sell at our website and donate the profits. We also made a special t-shirt for this project which is based on one of the paintings. The profits generated from the t-shirt will also be donated.

Which charity are you donating the proceeds towards, and what do they raise money for? What are their key areas?

We’re donating the profits to a Swedish organization named Stadsmissionen who help the homeless, isolated elderly and families in poverty in the Stockholm area. They are well established for many years in Sweden. We felt this was a good choice because we’d like to see that the money we raise be put to use locally and have a direct impact on individuals.

What made you choose to paint to raise money is this something born out of the lockdown or did you used to paint when you were younger, and if so when did you start?

This was born during the lockdown. We haven’t had a complete lockdown in Sweden but many choose to stay at home most of the time, which is what I’ve also chosen to do. I’ve actually really enjoyed this time and it has impacted my thinking and my creative process a lot. Having a different mental space and no shows or social gatherings as distractions have had some peculiar impact on me. I think a lot of people have experienced similar things.

I work as a graphic designer but I usually work digitally. I used to draw as a kid and I’m always using my artistic eye, however, this is the first time I paint with watercolour. I enjoy this process very much and I can produce results much quicker than I usually can when we, for example, make music with Diabolical. It’s very refreshing for me artistically.

Your work is quite dark in its appearance and themes, what inspires this dark tone, and how do you approach each painting?

I made the first seven or so paintings very quickly in one day. It just came pouring out. I then started to analyse what they meant. I believe everything you create has some subconscious meaning. I gradually realised what the paintings were about as I continued to paint. Now I have a clear vision about the series which I’ve named “Trans”. It’s a series of paintings divided into “acts” of seven paintings each. It will be ongoing work and I meditate and think a lot to discover what the next paintings should represent.

How long do your paintings take to finish? Do you have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to create or do you let things run free?

For most paintings I have some kind of idea before I start, it might be a vague idea or sometimes a more clear idea. They vary a lot in how long time they take to finish. Some are very fast and impressionistic and can be done in half an hour, others take a lot longer and require more meticulous work, sometimes days.

What advice could you give somebody looking to start painting, and what materials do you like to use?

Just do it! Don’t judge what you paint too much, just go for it. Gradually you’ll develop your technique and ability to realise your vision, but let it take time. I feel like I have a free creative side of my mind and an analytical logical side that compete for my attention during my creative process. I’ve found it’s usually better to let the creative side have room to roam and not analyse too much. The logical side can be good to apply sometimes to edit and refine, but initially, I like to let the paintbrush work without judgement.

How long will you be doing the paintings for, and where can the paintings be bought?

I can’t see myself stopping painting any time soon. The paintings are available at

Do you have any advice for anybody out there who may be struggling with consequences of the pandemic, such as loneliness or anxiety?

For those of us who aren’t struggling with disease and real danger for their lives and the lives of close ones I think you should use this unique time for reflection, meditation and time to be alone with yourself and your own inner world. It has given me a lot so far and I enjoy it. Even the struggles some might experience can be helpful and insights and learnings can be gained in the end even if it might be painful.

Do you have any other hobbies outside of painting and music?

Most of my life revolves around music and creativity. I find new creative outlets every now and then that I like to pursue like I just discovered painting. When I don’t create I usually like to let my creatively active mind get some rest and I hang out with my girlfriend and friends and get fucked up.

What do you think will be the lasting effect of Covid-19 on live music, album releases and the music industry as a whole and will you continue to be producing your band’s artwork?

It’s a very difficult time in many ways, the music industry is being affected a lot and it’s hard to say exactly what will happen long term. There will be a void to fill when we get out of this, industry actors will disappear while the demand for concerts will be very high when the music venues and festivals re-open. It might be a case of bigger fish outliving the smaller fish and mostly the bigger labels, managements and other players will remain. In terms of artists, this crisis is harder for bigger artists who depend on touring. For a band like Diabolical, the situation isn’t as bad as it could be because we don’t depend that heavily on touring. All members have their own companies within various areas and we experience other kinds of difficulties because of the crisis, but I think we’re better off than bands who solely live off touring.

Regarding the artwork, I ‘ve produced all artwork for Diabolical since I started in the band and I think I’ll keep doing that. Nowadays I also make artwork for other bands. I think it’s likely I’ll be doing hand-painted album covers soon, now that this door has opened.

Thank you for what you’re doing, it’s truly appreciated. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Check out our art for charity campaign at and our Facebook and Instagram. All contributions are very appreciated!


Interview by Jack Merry