The husband and wife design team was just establishing their creative agency, and asked him to join their initial artist roster. “Teaming up with Mario and Jen was my big break,” says Lidberg. “They have managed all my significant projects and I couldn’t have done the work without their partnership.”
With Hugo & Marie, Lidberg has illustrated for top clients, ranging from fashion labels like Lacoste and Hermès to bands like Coldplay and Glass Animals. He describes his aesthetic as “bright, happy, and chaotic with a little wink and nod,” and loves the “contrasting ideals of combining flat, graphic, simplified forms with the detail and nuance of realism.”
Though his illustrations are often teeming with elaborate psychedelic motifs and characters, Lidberg is mindful to always “strive for a sense of clarity and structure.” He’s inspired by memories of childhood, exploring the forests around his hometown of Independence, Missouri, or searching for that telltale red-striped shirt in the visual complexity of a Where’s Waldo? book.
I first came across Lidberg’s work in 2014 on the artwork of Zaba, the Glass Animals album whose cover features a densely-illustrated cosmic jungle filled with a variety of flora and fauna, overlaying geometric patterns, and planetary constellations. It’s the kind of album cover that demands a purchase of the vinyl edition just so you can view the intricacy of the artist’s work at full scale instead of settling for the paltry thumbnail version in your iTunes library. And with a song like “Toes”, that’s said to be the sonic interpretation of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Heart of Darkness, Zaba’satmospheric nature is made all the more mysterious thanks to Lidberg’s moody watercolor illustrations.
“I’ve been relatively nomadic the last few years,” he says, “but for a long time I was based in Kansas City, Missouri,” where he says there’s a greater interest in fine art than illustration. “It’s a scene with a lot of dedicated and sincere creators making work they believe in. It shares a culture of resourcefulness, hard work, and authenticity. Plus, the cost of living is low and the quality of life is pretty great.”
Nevertheless, Lidberg has recently put down roots in Minneapolis, Minnesota after briefly living in Birmingham, Alabama. He admits, “I’ve stepped back from illustration the last few years to catch my creative breath so to speak, but recently I’ve been working on a handful of projects. It’s a little too early to share, but I’m excited they’ll be out in the world soon.” Until then, I suggest picking up a copy of Zaba on vinyl, turning up the volume, and getting lost in the lush, primordial tropics of Lidberg’s sleeve art.