About Calle

I think that one of the disadvantages of the Internet is that it often becomes quite impersonal. So as a precaution, not to make my site as impersonal as many other sites, I include some information about myself.

Last year (1998) I was the first to be interviewed in a series of interviews of icon artists on the site IconTown.
However, that particular interview has become just a bit too old, so I wrote a new piece, partially based on the IconTown interview.
Read it and enjoy (hopefully)...

Calle ReadMe


So who are you, Calle?

I live in Stockholm, Sweden, I am 37 years old, and I have 3 beautiful children that I love more than anything or anyone in this world.

I have been working creatively/artistically all my life, with visual stuff like graphics, illustration and photo, but also with theater, writing and music.
I am a true multi-artist, expressing myself in the media that feels the best for each occasion.

For this I have my own business - Rehbinder MultiArt Productions - and of course I hope that you will visit the website for it.

Making a living as an artist is for most people only a dream, but I have managed somehow - not always giving me the resources I would want, but I get by.

For the moment I am making myself a career as a web design artist, producing web sites for different people and companies.
It seems as if I could soon even make quite good money from this, which is very satisfying.

My dream has for many years been to be able to make a lot of money doing what I love to do. Mostly not for the sake of money itself, but for the freedom they give me to create what I want.

I would love to direct more theater - but in Sweden it is hard to make a living doing just that, so I will have to keep on making money doing something else, and keep directing as a hobby - and maybe, maybe in the future I may be able to do a personal break-through in that area as well...

How, when and why did you start making icons?

I have been working on Macintosh computers since 1993, and I always liked the fact that I could change icons, personalizing my desktop.

Being a professional illustrator artist, drawing my own icons was a rather logical thing to want to do, but I never really knew how, until I got the idea of drawing some icons in Photoshop, sometime back in 1996.

Then I started drawing icons. Suddenly I had hundreds of them, just for the fun of it.

But the first revolution was going public with the icons.
I had previously written an article for the Swedish MacWorld Magazine (not about icons), so I had some contacts there, and I called to ask whether they could be interested in icons, and they were.
So in the summer 1997 I sent them a diskette (I wasn't even connected to the Internet by then) - they loved them, and put them out as a downloadable feature on their webpage.
Then I started getting really nice letters, and a couple of phone calls with people offering me jobs designing icons and buttons for software.

So during autumn 1997 I made a large amount of buttons and icons for ASTEA, a Swedish software company.

Anyway, all this gave me another push into getting an Internet connection, so in october 1997 I did it. I got myself out on the net.

Then I realized that drawing and collecting icons was a big thing on the net.
So I jumped on the train, so to say.
Sara Rönér (Icon Parade) was my first real source of inspiration, since she not only liked my art, she also kept some sets for downloading on her site, and she also gave me some technical advice. She was the one who got me to try ResEdit, for example.

And in January 1998 I entered the net with my own website - as a matter of fact, I made many websites. I had Calle's Homepage, and as subdepartments I had Calle's Custom Icons, Grimner's Runepage, Ord and Rehbinder MultiArt Productions.
All these sites are all still around, although they look very different now from what they did from the start.

Calle's Homepage
Calle's Homepage, early 1998
Calle's Custom Icons
Calle's Custom Icons, early 1998

What characterizes the art of making icons?


Limitations can, paradoxically, be an enormous source of liberation to an artist.

Give an artist all the colours in the world, miles of empty canvas, and say that he/she can do just anything - and he/she will most probably go into a coma.

But give him TWO tubes of paint, ONE brush and a VERY SMALL canvas - he/she will be in extasy, creating like crazy, seeing the limitation as a challenge.

So this is the fact with the 32x32 pixel, 256 colour icon. What to speak of a 16 colour, 16x16 pixel icon? To an artist, this is fascinating! What pictures can I show, what stories can I tell - within this ridiculously small space?

Testing a new material can be very inspiring for any artist. If I have been drawing with coal for years, and suddenly I'm faced with some crayons of different colours, it will be like starting anew, learning to paint all over again.

And in one sense this is just what is going on with the icons. What can I do with this new way of expressing myself?

An artist is an explorer. Explore, explore, cross borders and limits, go further and further. Icons are a unique art form - they have yet to be rediscovered and explored, many times over, both technically and as images. And the fact that they do not yet have the stamp of being Great Art, they have not yet been discovered by Art Critics - this gives the creative mind a lot of non-pretentious space to stay playful in.

And I like to play, not feeling the stress to create something genial or artistically revolutionary - just to have fun, and giving some enjoyment to others.

And I like very much the fact that 99.99 % of all downloadable icons are in fact freeware.
Anyone with a computer can collect as many as they want, free of charge. In that sense also, it's a true non-elite hobby - both in making and collecting. Very democratic, indeed...

What tools did you start with, and which tools are you using now?

As I mentioned before, I started with Photoshop, but working in Photoshop only does not make good icons, since the mask can be bad, and the small version icons becomes really ugly.
So starting to use ResEdit was a true revolution in my icon making, and that came sometime in november-december last year, mainly because of Sara Rönér, a Swede like me, and in charge of what most probably is the largest icon site in the world - Icon Parade.

I have gotten a lot of encouragement, good ideas and technical advice from her, and so has many other iconists.

What has all this icon making given you?

First of all, just a lot of fun.

It has also led to some professional assignments, making Very Small Graphics for webdesigners and software developers.

And maybe most of all, it has given me a lot of contacts with wonderful people all over the world.

There is a marvellous un-official network going on between iconists over the world, where we e-mail each other, encouraging and collecting each other's work.

Sometimes this also develops into a more personal relationship, with a lot of good communication about other things than icons and computer art in general.

Some of my best e-mail pals are, or have been other iconists, such as Brian Brasher (Ikthusian, Etherbrian), Magnus Ewert (Swedish Icons), Paul Harmon (Mazerine) and Ilona Melis (IliCon).

I have also had great contact with many other icon artists, such as Dave Brasgalla (Pixelhaus, IconFactory), Hideki Itoh (Hide's Software Download), Sara Rönér (Icon Parade, Icon Amazons), Edoardo Fiorini (Mr. Iconic), Sonny Del Castillo (Poison's Icons), Justin Dauer (The Pseudo Room), Jason Chong (ICONMANIAC), Catharina England (Marmalade Moon), Bernd Holzhausen (IconTown) and Jason Rainbows.

People I would never have met without this iconist network.

As a matter of fact, I have met three of the above in person - not only over the net.

I will give you an example of what this network communication can lead to:

I am a great fan of Sonny Del Castillo, a true Native American who also makes beautiful icons with Native American motifs.

At one time, I had made my own folder resources for the program Folder Icon Maker. With my resources, and the program Folder Icon Maker, I made some folders based on the motifs of Sonny. I showed them to him, and he liked them so much, that he keeps them for downloading on his own site.

Over some time we have had a long correspondense on different topics, where he among many other things told me about being part Caddo-indian.
At home I have a book about Native American tribes, in which you can see different houses, including a hut by Caddo indians.
So I promised to make a Caddo house as an icon, especially dedicated to Sonny.
As it often goes, I got inspired, and made a heep of Native American House Icons.

So this set of course became dedicated to Sonny. But I have also made two sets dedicated to Brian Brasher - the Ikthusianesque Icons, and the Black Knights Icons.
So this kind of communication can be very creative!

What is your next project?

Now that I have finished my complete set of Flag Icons, and reached the magic amount of 2000 icons for download at my page, I can take a break and breathe a little.

Maybe, maybe I will make a set of American State Flags. Many have asked me about it, so if I ever get the time I and inspiration, I will make a set. In fact, I have already started, but I have only finished two flags so far, so it will take some time until it is complete.

I have also started trying out the new techniques of making 32-bit icons, and that is truly interesting. You can already download one set of 32-bit icons from my site (Theatre Mask Icons), but I'm sure that more will come.

My major problem though, as for most creative people, is time. There just never seems to be enough time for all my different projects...

Rainbow stripe