5 Finnish Illustrators

Mar 26, 2020 | News

As a cultural institute, the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak have a direct influence on everything we do. Many organisations and artists we work with are directly affected and face uncertain times. Exhibitions, festivals, fairs and all sorts of events and jobs have been cancelled and the cultural agenda will be disrupted for quite a while, putting a financial and operational strain on a lot of players in the broad cultural field. 

With all calendars emptied and plans changed, we want to help our community in a different way. Over the coming weeks, we’ll use our social media and website as a platform for culture, sharing and highlighting things we think you should know of. Artists we have worked with, interesting reads, organisations or venues we have collaborated with, our cultural favourites and tips, etc. 

We encourage you to click, discover, enjoy, support and stick together in these unreal times. 
First up: 5 Finnish illustrators at the top of their game, selected by Hanna. 

Two illustrations set parallel, with a pastel coloured backgrounds. The illustrations are patterned with people in various activities.

Lotta Nieminen is a Finnish illustrator and graphic designer working from New York, where she stayed after an exchange to the Rhode Island School of Design while studying at Aalto University. Her colourful yet sleek style quickly made her gain notoriety as a designer ander art director, finetuning her recognisable, simple-yet-elegant aesthetic through branding and advertising briefs for brands such as Google, Hermes, Matter Made and Samuji. In her illustration, her style is a bit more quirky while maintaining the same sense of colours and patterns.

A colourful illustration with lemons, grapes, leaves, and flowers.

Lotta Maija is a pattern designer and illustrator based in Helsinki. Her playful drawings often feature fruity or floral patterns in vivid hues of green, purple and orange. Patterns PalstaKasvio and Apilainen grace the current Spring collection of Marimekko. The throw she designed for Slowdown Studio features pears and oranges, and is based on a sketch she made at the summer house during Finland’s warmest Summer to date.

An illustration with block details, showing a melon, a drink in a glass, a cigarette and ashtray, and the shape of a crayfish. There is some handwriting on the image.

Even though Antti Kalevi’s drawings might look like they are made with paper cut-out’s are hand-drawn, they are all created digitally. From behind his tablet, Antti uses humour, colour and striking shapes as a base for his drawings. Often colour-blocking, the pieces seem simple at first but actually hide quite a few subtle details.

An illustration with animals, including fish, foxes, birds, rabbits, and more, as well as some round berries.

Matti Pikkujämsä’s illustrations can be found both in children’s books as on kitchen towels. His quirky depictions of animals have made him a beloved artist in many categories. In his atelier in Helsinki he draws weekly illustrations for a newspaper, paints hundreds of portraits, illustrates books, etc. In the Cup of Therapy project, Pikkujämsä illustrated mental health problems and wellbeing to make them visible. He also works on pattern design for Samuji, Lapuan Kankurit and Marimekko. Amongst other awards, he was the first Finnish Illustrator of the Year in 2019.

An illustration with a lot of plants and flowers, with women in sunglasses and flowers imbedded into colourful shapes. In the middle there is an hourglass.

Living and working in Helsinki, Janine Rewell’s work combines geometry and nature in a gleeful, imaginative style. Abstraction of forms and the fantastical animal kingdom inspire her work, which mixes vector-based designs and analog materials for illustrations and installations, from images in magazines or ad campaigns to window displays, packaging, textile and much more. Janine likes to mix and explore different materials, not sticking to any categorisation.

Katja Kettu’s Yöperhonen (2015) on the FinnCultBlx Bookshelf

Katja Kettu’s Yöperhonen (2015) is set in 1937, when a young Finnish girl defects to the Soviet Union for love. Here’s what our in-house book critic thought of the novel.

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You can now apply for an SKF internship with us! Applications are open until 31 March 2023.

Belgian-Moroccan singer Laïla Amezian at the Women-Music-Futures Symposium at the University of Helsinki

“Chaabi Habibi: Popular Female Moroccan Musicians in Belgium Searching for their History and Building their Future” with Laïla Amezian and Hélène Sechehaye, Helsinki, 10.3.2023

We need to invest more in the promotion of Finnish art and culture abroad

Laura Boxberg, Director of the Institute voices the need for greater investment in the export and mobility of Finnish art and culture.

Taina Latvala’s Välimatka (2012) on the FinnCultBlx Bookshelf

Taina Latvala’s Välimatka(2012) tells the bittersweet story of a mother-daughter trip from Synkkylä to Tenerife. This is what our book critic had to say about it.