Norman the Hedgehog was inspired by my very first trip to Sweden back in 1997 to visit my new in-laws, whom I had never met. I didn't even know what a hedgehog was. Anyway, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night and said "you need to see this." As you can probably imagine, I was questioning my life choices, but I got out of bed to see what my dearly beloved wanted to show me. We went outside, and it was still daylight, because it was summer, and Sweden is very far north. This was not what he wanted to show me. "Just wait," he said. "You'll like this." We waited for a while, and sure enough, there was a rustling and a weird grunting noise that was coming from under my mother-in-law's porch. Soon there emerged a family of hedgehogs. These were not the cute little adorable Instagram hedgehogs. Oh no, friends and neighbors. These were the big Viking hedgehogs about the size of a football and nearly black. They were on a mission to decimate the local slug population, and also a nearby onion patch. Wild hedgehogs in Sweden are kind of like the armadillos of Texas. They're kind of dumb, and they're so ugly they're cute. Anyway, I watched these strange football-sized walking pincushions with great interest, and one of them came up to me (because hedgehogs don't see very well), sniffed my shoe, and then looked up at me with such a dirty look that it was as if I had insulted his ancestors. That was it for me. I was hooked.
Norman the Hedgehog started life as a doodle one chilly evening in 2019 and it just sort of got out of control from there. He's a chill little dude, and just sort of goes with the flow. He is determined to show his friend Shark the world outside the ocean, and together they have lots of fun and adventures.
Shark was inspired by my ill-fated attempt to sneak out of bed when I was very very young (probably around four or five years old). I had just peeked around the couch to see what my mother and father were watching on TV, when suddenly this enormous shark appeared onscreen and bit a man in half!!! It was movie night, and mom and dad were watching Jaws. I was horrified, and after that, my mom could not get me to take a bath without a fight for at least a year. She would have to pick up a kicking and screaming little me and plop me down in the bathtub. I still do not like baths, and I'm still not 100% convinced there isn't a 40-foot great white shark lurking in the deep end of a swimming pool, waiting to chomp.
Shark is a fish of mystery. Since his best friend can't breathe underwater, he travels around in a washtub instead so they can hang out together more often. As one does. Nobody knows exactly what Shark looks like, other than that he's a bull shark of indeterminate size, age, and weight who knows no boundaries. When asked his name, Shark states "I'm a shark. It's pretty self-evident. I don't need a driver's license! Why do I need a name?! Names are the result of needless bureaucracy!!!" It's usually at this point that Norman slips Shark some tuna and he settles down. Shark gets kind of hangry sometimes.
This is Heather Karlsson. She's an artist.
Hi! If you made it this far, I'm impressed! My name is Heather Karlsson, and I am the creator of Norman the Hedgehog and Shark. I am a self-taught artist and doodler extraordinaire. I've scribbled and drawn for as long as I can remember, but I didn't really start taking it seriously until 2019, when I decided I needed a more creative outlet than musical instrument repair and silversmithing (more on that later). My mediums of choice are watercolor and watercolor brush marker. I use pen and ink to line out the pencil sketches I make, then add color with watercolor and marker. The result is an illustrative style reminiscent of children's books and comic strips. My goal is to make this silly little hedgehog and his equally silly little shark friend live in as real and beautiful a world as possible. Some of my art influences include Bill Waterson (the creator of "Calvin & Hobbes"), Will Henry (the creator of "Wallace the Brave"), Kate Ashwin (the creator of "Widdershins", among other things), Georgia Dunn (the creator of "Breaking Cat News"), and of course Charles Schultz (the creator of "Peanuts").
When I'm not creating art, I am rebuilding musical instruments. This has been my main line of work for over twenty years. I also create jewelry out of the musical instruments I find that can't be saved. Between all of this stuff, I stay pretty busy, but I do like to travel and hang out on the Texas gulf coast, as well as go to gem and mineral shows to look at rocks. I live in Carrollton, Texas with my husband (a computer programmer who is also a fabulous cook and one day hopes to catch and release a world record alligator gar) and my deranged elderly housecat Tosca (who would probably take over the world if it didn't interfere with her napping and eating schedules).
I hope that viewing Norman the Hedgehog and Shark give you as much joy as it gives me to create, and I thank you for welcoming a piece of my art into your home. Thanks for stopping by to visit!