Alva Skog Gives Snow White a New Happily Ever After
By Alixandra Rutnik on Jul 16, 2021
YG17 winner illustrates a retelling of the classic fairytale
We’ve all heard the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — beautiful girl, evil stepmother, poisoned apple, handsome prince, and happily ever after. In today's culture, however, such stories can be problematic; after all, the climax of this fairytale consists of a man making out with a drugged and comatose stranger. Yikes.
Enter Stockholm-based illustrator and Young Guns 17 winner Alva Skog, who brought their unique style to a collaboration with colorful and progressive razor brand Billie. Reinterpreting classic fairytales as part of last month's PRIDE celebrations, the company tasked Alva with illustrating the story of Sno and the Seven Genderfluid Cuties.
It’s a tale filled with friendship and deceit, and the most shocking part of the story might be when evil Queen Karen sends Sno a poisoned cold brew — and as someone who drinks cold brew every morning this is a bit unnerving. But not to worry, as the story goes Sno is awoken by Prince... but not in the way you may think.
Alva’s illustrations are a beautiful and bold match to Billie’s modern Snow White redo. And Alva is on our Young Guns 19 jury this year which is super dope, so I’d enter now if I were you.
This is a whimsically reimagined version of the classic fairytale. How did this collab with you and Billie come about?
Billie reached out to me and my agent with a beautiful brief. The stories of Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel were all rewritten by Vanessa Newman, Dylan McKeever, Nicole Najafi, and Asia Hunt, who are all super cool people! So it was up to me to interpret the text with my illustrations. I was given Billie’s version of the fairytale Snow White.
Billie gave me some direction on what to focus on. For example, this specifically rewritten fairytale is about consent and platonic relationships. Also, they wanted it to be a diverse and inclusive representation, which I’m all about. It was so much fun and also quite a challenging brief and different from my usual commissions.
"This specifically rewritten fairytale is about consent and platonic relationships."
This fairytale retelling hits a lot of modern political topics. Gender fluidity, sexual consent, etc. Why do you think it is important to retell classic fairytales in 2021?
Oh, I think it is super important! Mainly because retelling these stories sheds light on the problematic cis and heteronormative, sometimes sexist, and racist structures that permeate and are reproduced in fairytales.
"...retelling these stories sheds light on the problematic cis and heteronormative, sometimes sexist, and racist structures that permeate and are reproduced in fairytales."
I find that these rewritten fairytales are not only funny, but also they are thought-provoking and will surely spark healthy conversations. And for me personally, it’s liberating to read them.
How many illustration drafts did you have for each page? And how do you determine when your illustrations are done?
The one part of the tale or page that took the most roughs was the famous ‘kissing scene.’ We were never going to have a kissing scene, but instead have a consent scene where the Prince stops himself from kissing Sno.
I made a few versions, that took a lot of inspiration from the Disney movie, but they all felt slightly triggering and we definitely didn’t want that angle. I made nine different illustrations in total: one in the perspective of Sno with the Prince leaning over her, one from the side, one where the Prince is at Sno’s feet, and so on. Even though it took so many takes, I loved working with Billie because they really showed me that they wanted to make an informed choice. I trusted them and knew that they would make the best decision.
When did your love for drawing begin?
It’s hard to say because I it was a number of things that inspired my love of drawing, but if I would have to pick a few– Manga, comics, cartoons, feminism, my sister, my mom, and feminist sci-fi.
Your illustration style is strong and distinct. I can always tell one of your works when flipping through a magazine or scrolling a website. How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as being defined by bold color, exaggerated perspective, dynamic compositions, and sometimes weird body shapes.
You are part of the Young Guns 17 fam (in fact, so is part-time Billie Creative Director Noemie Le Coz!) In what ways has this award shaped your art career in the past two years?
Being part of the Young Guns 17 family has given me the confidence to continue working hard. It has also connected me with creatives that I follow and who continue to inspire me.
"Being part of the Young Guns 17 family has given me the confidence to continue working hard. It has also connected me with creatives that I follow and who continue to inspire me."
I’m super excited to be on this year’s Young Guns 19 jury. I can’t wait to see all the entries and I’m sure it will blow my mind that so many talented people are out there! I wish everyone the best of luck!
Any new illustration projects in the works that we should keep an eye out for?
I’m working on a personal comic that I’m very excited to show when it’s ready.
The final deadline to enter the prestigious Young Guns 19 competition is Monday, July 26.