Dear Readers,

Talking Creativity was a one year project and it has now come to an end. I thank you all for your interest and comments! I will start a new blog in Spring 2017. I hope to see you and hear from you again!

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”

Swami Sivananda.

It all starts with light

It all starts with light

By Carina Chela

tulay-light-faceFinland goes through the darkest time of the year with the help of light. Tülay Schakir’s light artworks have done just that: livening up Finnish cities for several winters. She is a lighting designer and visual artist who has received various awards for both lighting design and visual arts. She has worked on diverse projects from stage lighting to architectural lighting and sculptures. Schakir is one of the few Finnish artists who work with commissioned light artwork for residential areas. She is currently working on a built-in video installation that will project images on the floor of building yards in Kruunuvuorenranta a suburb on the outskirts of Helsinki -still under development- known as the Neighbourhood of Light.

Why light?

My interest in light was through traditional visual art. In art the problems are often about light because in order to form a space you need light. Natural light is all over the place but at the same time it’s transparent. In order to work with light you have to make visible what is transparent. The paradox is that to be able to work with artificial light, for instance stage lighting, you need to be in darkness, otherwise you can’t see the light. Of course it was a shock when it eventually sank in: if I want to work with stage lighting design I have to be in darkness!

Photo: Liisa Huima

Photo: Liisa Huima

What’s the difference between environmental art and your light artworks?

One difference is that you have to think in different ways in relationship to people and their environment. In environmental art you decorate a tree with knitted scarves and it’s always on display, day and night. In my light artwork for urban spaces you plan images that will be projected somewhere. Then it’s usually on in the mornings and in the evenings when it’s dark, in the winter that basically means when you go to work and then when you come back.


How do you work?

It depends on the project. If it is artwork for a residential area I often have the architect’s plans in front of me because the building is not yet ready. I get ideas from the plans. I imagine what I would see or how would I feel, what do I want to emphasize or what do I want to hide. I think, jot down, draw, or write something. I let it be and then go back to it after a couple of days. But my projects take a long time to process. It’s a lot of brainwork. I do more thinking and planning than anything else.

2002 111What inspires you to work?

Things that interest me at some point transform themselves into a visual language. I read a lot so, for instance, an idea for a work of art can evolve from a book. When I read I see and feel things, it triggers thoughts and ideas.

What work of art are you proud of?

I don’t know how to answer that because I don’t like my work once I’ve finished it. When I finish something I believe it belongs to the past, I don’t want to think about it anymore. It’s a personality thing. I guess I have to get over that!

What’s your own relationship to art?tulay-pic-4

I have a very ambivalent relationship to art. I feel it’s my duty to do art. I think that if I don’t do what I do then who will do it?

Individualization is important for you, could you explain what you mean by this?

Globalization, the consumer society, the fact that we consume goods without thinking of the consequences is making us into a big mass of people that live and think in the same way. So individualization is a person’s greatest achievement, I think it should be a person’s aim in life. What we have to offer in life is ourselves. Different roads and alternatives are what we have and we can choose them. If I have to simplify it art is a way to show ourselves as individuals.

What other career would you have pursued?

Psychology or biology.

That’s very different from your career as an artist, isn’t it?

No, not at all! It’s about the world, life and how human beings relate to that. I don’t think it’s that different; on the contrary, it’s very similar!

Picture the time

Picture the time

By Carina Chela

Photos: Anni Leppälä

Anni_imageAnni Leppälä makes time stand still in her photography. Her images oscillate between reality, and dream triggering emotions in a subtle yet profound way. In 2010 she was selected Finland’s Young Artist of the Year. She studied at the Turku Arts Academy and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. Leppälä belongs to the renowned Helsinki School, an international brand recognised for its innovative work and excellence in art.

Why photography?

I started to take pictures on a photography course during my high school years. It felt like an easy access to a visual world and language. At first I was drawn to the melancholy and proof-like characteristic of photographs, and how they related to momentariness. More recently I have been interested in the transformation of materiality through photographs, and how images can alter their subjects in that process. I am also intrigued by the invisible aspect within photographs – what can be recognised and found through the visible surface.

Your images oscillate between reality and dream. How would you define your style?

It´s difficult to define. I think there are some elements that seem to keep on reappearing in different forms through my images, such as a specific atmosphere of light, colour, covering etc. Images are like a curtain, a drapery that I am constantly trying to picture and cast aside at the same time.Anni profile

It seems that all the figures in your photos are female, why is that?

I usually photograph people that I know really well, such as close friends or my little sister. The figure of a girl or a woman seems to be the most familiar to me. It is a character that can also appear in different scales as a paper figure or something between a person and an image.

Your images often evoke the past, we can see this through the room interiors and the women’s clothes. Why is this?  

At first when I started to take pictures I was drawn to the relation that photographs have with the past. How images are bound to a specific moment in the past even though they are always viewed from the present. Back then, I was also interested in home museum spaces which seemed to represent a similar setting from the past. Those spaces evoke the viewers imagination with interiors and pieces of furniture that no longer serve their original purpose. Also the outfits came from specific sources, usually from my relatives.Anni-L picgreen+redhair

 Does your photography say something about Finnish culture? 

In Finland the changes of season drastically affect and alter the colours and atmospheres of the surroundings. This also reflects in the images in many ways. Different things become recognised through different times of the year. Otherwise it’s difficult to say if there is a connection to  Finnish culture, perhaps a certain tone of melancholy could be part of that.

What do you enjoy most in your profession as a photographer?

 Maybe I don´t see myself so distinctly as a photographer but rather someone working with images and the imagery. However, I love to see the movement and change in natural light and how it can be so alive sometimes. It gives me so much joy just to experience it and see how it highlights certain subjects, spaces and shadows.

Anni L red hair

Where do you find inspiration?

I think one thing leads to another and the connections between the existing works and the works-to-come play an important role in this development. Things also take time to evolve. Sometimes it can take years before an image is finally realised as part of a work. I find inspiration in various fields – literature, music, cinema, nature.

How do you switch off from work?

I work quite intuitively and I am collecting hints and fragments for my work all the time. So it’s difficult to draw a line between work and time-off. But I like to read biographies, do gymnastics and daydream. Idleness in itself is a valuable thing and part of a working method too, that´s when you start to notice things.

Anni L Lady in Forest

Before becoming a photographer, what other career did you consider?

I never really had any specific career plans when I was younger and later it seemed natural to follow the path of visual arts in some way. Perhaps I would have applied to study art history…. The thing is, you really can´t know beforehand what is going to be your profession until you immerse yourself in it. And if it starts to lead you somewhere, well, it´s a good sign

For the love of clay

FINAL photo Jussi VehkasaloFor the love of clay

By Carina Chela

Tommi Toija sculpts quaint human figures that are charged with emotions and depict the simple things of daily life, often in the sphere of tragicomedy. Toija’s 8.5 metre tall Bad bad boy sculpture – an embarrassed fellow that peed into the Baltic Sea by Helsinki’s Market Square – aroused both delight and disapproval, and certainly got noticed by the international media. Whilst studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Toija became assistant to the renowned Finnish sculptor Kain Tapper, a period which he describes as important in forming his own artistic identity. Currently Toija is one of Finland’s most successful sculptors.

Why clay?

I enjoy how clay feels in my hands. I like it when the surface of the texture lives and I get that with clay. It’s easy to model with clay; I don’t have to work with molds or casting. That kind of work is too slow for me. I like to start working immediately. I sculpt directly in clay and then fire it in the kiln and that’s it! If it breaks during firing or afterwards, it’s no big deal! It’s part of the process. Then I just continue working with it. When I work in bronze it’s different. Casting in bronze has to be perfect.

How do you plan your sculptures?BOY balloons FINAL 2

I don’t plan my work so much. For instance when I come to my studio I know I will make a standing figure but I don’t know what kind of standing figure. I often find the shape while I work on it.

Your figures are characterized as humoristic. At the same time they are embarrassed or lonely. Are they sad or happy?

They are both. I think it depends also on the viewer’s own state of mind. If you are sad you will find something sad in them. But I suppose they are more tragic. If you have all the balloons that you’ve always wanted in your hand but suddenly they lift you up and take you away, well, that’s pretty scary! I think art should have several angles to it. Life is like that; it’s not black and white. People come from different backgrounds and they relate to what they see in different ways.

Tommi sculp 3 pee boyAre you ever short of ideas?

Oh yes, many times. But then I start to work on an old sculpture and try a new version. In my studio I also have lots of figures that are not ready or are broken and I often continue working with them. Sometimes I start to clean up my studio and the process might trigger something. I mean it can help me find an idea. But if I sit down and start thinking what to do, well, I would be sitting down for the rest of my life! I’ll end up thinking if there is any point at all in sculpting! My ceramic figures won’t save the world so it’s better not to think why I make them. Just keep on going.

When do you feel that your sculptures are ready to be shown?

When I realize that there’s no more time to continue working and the exhibition will open soon! Then I have to give them up. Deadlines are good things because they make you move on. But for me nothing is ever completely ready; if it is then I think that it’s boring or lacking life. Often I continue working with the sculptures even after the exhibition. Sometimes I have had to tell people interested in buying my work that the sculpture has changed from what they saw at the gallery.Tommi sculpture RED

 When do you take a break from your work?

For me it’s difficult to take long breaks because I like to work and I enjoy being in my studio. If I’m taking a long break I come to my studio anyway just to have a cup of coffee, or smoke a cigar and look around. My work is very manual; I need the space, my tools, materials, and the oven. I can’t work anywhere else.

I read an interview in which you said that you are not a creative person. What do you mean by this?

Many people have asked me when will I stop making these figures and go forward. And for me that’s a strange question because I just like to do them. That’s why I say that I’m not so creative. Of course, I work with the same figures but I make different versions. I don’t believe I have to do something new all the time. A new version has a different meaning, it’s a new angle, and it’s something totally new.

Are you a tragic or a humorous person?

Well I’m not sure… I think I am more of a tragic person. But I guess you better ask my wife! I somehow think she will say the same thing!

What about humour?

Life is much easier with humour. It’s always better to have a laugh and just move on!

A seamstress’ boy who knocked on Dolce&Gabbana’s door

A seamstress’ boy who knocked on Dolce&Gabbana’s door

By Carina Chela

Photo: Sakari Röyskö

Photo: Sakari Röyskö

He grew up listening to his mother’s sewing machine and he inherited her passion for making clothes. His road took him to Helsinki’s University of Art and Design (Aalto University) and his skills didn’t go unnoticed. Shortly after graduation he started working for the biggest names in the fashion industry from Dolce&Gabbana to Giorgio Armani and Bottega Veneta. Teemu Muurimäki became an internationally known top fashion designer. After almost 15 years of living abroad he decided to settle down in Helsinki with his Sydneysider ratter dog Jasper. In 2014, together with four friends, Muurimäki launched his own high-quality men’s collection Formal Friday. He is also known as one of Marimekko‘s designers.

How did it all start?

Well, at home. My mother was a seamstress and I used to take the leftover fabric pieces that she threw away after sewing. I made all sorts of things out of those small pieces of fabric. So I was pretty good at sewing already when I was a kid. When I went to high school I stood out because of my sewing skills. But for me it was just natural, it was like writing, I never even thought that it was something special or weird.

Tell us about when you started working with mannequins?

As a university student I was working in Villisilkki, a silk fabric shop in Helsinki. One day the window dresser didn’t come to work and the owner was desperate. She had to leave so she gave me the keys and said, “Do something”. There were two beautiful big windows and two mannequins. So with a pin I started to drape, and I loved that! For the next seven years I made window displays for that shop. People from the neighbourhood told me that they took evening walks and went past the shop just to see the window. That’s how I learnt the design technique of draping mannequins.

 Then you went to Paris?

Yes, I started to work for Cymbeline, one of the leading European bridal wear companies. That was my first big fashion house. But after five years there I wanted something else.

How difficult was it to get a job in other fashion houses?

I tried to network. I had a contact in Paris. Every time I went to a bar or to clubs someone would say they would help me. But that never happened. In the end I used the Internet.

 How did you get a job with Dolce&Gabbana?

I just googled Dolce&Gabbana headquarters, sent a cover letter, my CV and some sketches. I sent seventy letters; I was bombing everyone, HR, head of collections, creative director… I got about 30 letters saying no thank you. At some point I thought I could wallpaper my bathroom with letters from Dior and Channel saying “Monsieur Muurimaki, Non, merci…” But then I received a phone call from Dolce&Gabbana. The moment I remember for the rest of my life was when I flew from Paris to Milan and there behind the door I thought “Oh my god, it’s happening!” Because of my bridal wear experience I started working with celebrity evening gowns.

You have a nice story about someone you drew as a kid. Tell us about that.

Photo: Anna Riikonen

Photo: Anna Riikonen

I always liked drawing and when I was about 14 years old I gave my big brother a drawing of Iman, David Bowie’s widow. I saw her in some fashion magazine. About 15 years later I saw a picture of Iman wearing a dress I designed. That was one of those wow moments. When I designed celebrity dresses I was never told beforehand whom the dress was for. I’ve seen them after on celebrities but in pictures.

You came back to Finland and launched Formal Friday. What’s that about?

This is returning to men’s wear, which I always wanted to do. The name came from when I was working in Australia. My friends and I were always wearing t-shirts and jeans and our boss was complaining about how her designer team dressed. So one day we went to work with jackets and ties and it was fantastic because everyone loved it! We started doing it every Friday but with a relaxed twist. We called that day Formal Friday. In our Formal Friday clothing we use merino wool, which is durable and easy to maintain. It’s commonly used in outdoor and sports clothing. Merino wool is really big; I didn’t know that when we started.

What is your design process?

The designing process is like an unpacking process at its best. I don’t know where it’s leading me and I think that’s the only way to create something new. Once you create something it stays in your mind. It’s like having a library of ideas or elements in your head. It could be shapes, volumes, materials, and with experience you get more and more elements.

What about inspiration?

Movies inspire me, travelling or seeing things. Even architecture can inspire me. Sometimes I have a picture of a building and I can start thinking what kind of dress could I make with that shape. I play with ideas. But for inspiration I think it’s important to get away from fashion.

 What do you enjoy most as a designer?

When I’m working here in Finland I can do anything I want, wedding gowns, evening dresses… the best thing as a designer is to be able to do many different things. I’m really interested in how fabric moves, in its movements. I also enjoy making costumes for contemporary dance. I have made costumes for Tero Saarinen’s dance performance. Now I’m working on his next performance.

How do you relax?

I do a lot of sports, go to the cinema, and listen to music. And I go for walks with Jasper


The woman behind the funky bunny ears and pom pom tail shoes

Parikka photoThe woman behind the funky bunny ears and pom pom tail shoes

By Carina Chela

She is known for designing footwear with a playful femininity, an overload of cuteness, a touch of pop art and eccentricity – sometimes fetish inspired – and always using the finest materials from the best suppliers in Europe. Minna Parikka is the Finnish shoe designer who put two ears and a rabbit’s tail on sneakers that are currently selling in over 25 countries. Her shoes have been worn by celebrities like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift. There is even a postage stamp featuring her cherry red heels. Minna Parikka’s eponymous label has broken into the Asian market with incredible success, so it seems that the bunny shoes will continue hopping for a long time.

Do you always wear your shoes?

Yes, always! Isn’t that the reason why women become shoe designers?

A sign in your Helsinki shop reads “May these shoes lead you to new adventures”, what does that mean?PARIKKA Pekka Karhunen

It means that you shouldn’t take things too seriously, let the shoes lead you. Make a decision that isn’t so safe. It refers more to an attitude in life, to take risks and to have more fun. I don’t want my designs to be too safe. I want to have a reaction. Like buying a pair of shoes featuring a unicorn or a bunny. They will surely take you to new places because they are great conversations starters.

When you were in Italy, you worked for an Italian footwear company but got fired. What happened?

I was young and very opinionated and all my bosses were men. So you can imagine that working in such a machista culture was difficult for me. At the end they gave me the boot. And that really was the biggest inspiration to start my own business. I really wanted to set my own rules and make my own life. I wanted my products to look like my own products. I didn’t want someone telling me what I should be doing.

How did you start the business?

PARIKKA SHOESI came back to Finland after studying and working in England and in Italy. I thought that I would be based in Helsinki but travel a lot and sell my shoes in other countries. But in any case I had to start my own business so I took a massive loan and started to work. It became an instant success here and after three years I opened my first boutique, it was a tiny little shoebox. A few years later we opened a bigger store on Aleksanterinkatu, one of Helsinki’s main shopping streets. Finnish women have taken the brand in their wardrobe. Otherwise we could not have the shop in such a good location.

How much of your personality is in your designs?

I put a lot of my personality into the product. It’s like an emotional product. There is a cohesiveness in the design and brand because it all comes from one person. But I also like that my shoes can be intrepreted in different ways. It’s important to have one foot in the fashion world to know what the trends are. But it’s also important to have the other foot on your own planet so you have your own DNA in the product.

Was putting bunny ears on sneakers a big risk?

Yes it was and it has become our bread and butter! I really never knew it was going to be such a big success. That’s the product that has got us into so many great retailers all over the world. Sometimes it pays off to take risks. When it comes to clothing I am a risk-taker. It’s great to create a brand that has a voice of its own, that stands out and is recognisable from the masses of other shoe brands.

What’s important for you as a designer?

That my product looks like me, that it’s not fake, that it is real. As a designer my task is to come up with a product that inspires emotions. Fashion is part of the entertainment industry so I feel like an entertainer. In other words I am dependent on what people want.

What about humour and design?

I like humour and colour and fun in all kinds of products. I think there are so many people that yearn for humour and want to be part of it. There are so many joyful and happy people out there but it sometimes feels that people don’t dare to show it.PARIKKA photo- Terhi Ylimäinen

How do you get inspired?

Quite often before I start to design I go for a trip. I need to be constantly on the move. When I’m abroad I look at other brands and shops and what people are wearing. It’s so inspirational to do real research on people’s preferences in different cultures. It’s important to know what is happening for instance in Korea or what the fashion houses in Europe are doing. Not just look at the brand next to you. The overall picture is crucial. I travel a couple of times a month. But Helsinki also inspires me. It’s nice to come back here after travelling, relax, and get my ideas on paper and start designing my new collection. I need the super hectic travel time, but then I also need the peace and quiet I get in Finland.

How do you switch off from work?

The product that I make and the visual world that I am in are very feminine so I like to do daring, physical and speedy things. For instance I have a motorbike. Riding a motorbike is like meditation, you can’t think about anything else. It’s important to clear your mind. I’ve also tried Enduro, riding the bike off-road. I like to challenge myself and leave my comfort zone. I can also use these different experiences in my business. When you are doing Enduro, you have to look straight-ahead and then you can pass the obstacles. That has helped me in some situations, to focus on the results or the goals. If you are riding your motorbike and there’s a swamp, you don’t stare at the eye of the swamp, you look straight-ahead. You stay calm and concentrate on the goal.

Liisa’s wonderland, an illustrator’s story

Liisa’s wonderland, an illustrator’s story

By Carina Chela

Photos: Sami Sallinen

LIISA BLOG pic IOne sunny day at the beach Little Papu, a Finnish tortoise, takes his shell off to go for a swim. But while he is swimming, his shell shrinks and he doesn’t fit in it anymore. Fortunately, he solves the problem and finds a red glove that makes an excellent outfit, at least for a while. That’s the start of Little Papu’s life.

 Little Papu is a series of books written by Liisa Kallio, one of Finland’s most prolific children’s writers. In 2010, Kallio was awarded the prestigious Kylli Koski Award for her Little Papu book Pikku Papu.  She has also been nominated twice for the Finlandia Junior Prize. Together with author Hiroko Sakomura, Kallio is working on a book about Milla the elf which will be published in September 2016 by the Japanese publishing company Bunkeido.

Why children’s books?

It all started when I was working as a graphic designer at YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. They asked if I was interested in making the animations for their Christmas calendar. They needed elves, birds, all sorts of little creatures. I immediately thought it was a great idea. Later on the publishing company Tammi asked if I wanted to illustrate the same story but as a book. Shortly after my first daughter was born, I decided to write and illustrate my first book which tells the story of a new-born baby. I was a bit surprised the book took off so well. That was very important for me: my first book!

What do you most enjoy about the process of making a book?LIISA BLOG pic II

To find a way for both tools, text and image, to alternate and tell the story. It’s all about storytelling. I love it when the drawing is really turning out the way I want it to. When it flows it feels good. Or when I’ve found the solution to a drawing, that aha! moment is also awesome. And I love it when there’s not much left and the book is almost completed. I guess I enjoy the whole process! But I also like to illustrate other authors’ books.

How would you define your own style?

A lot of my work is done by hand, I only use a computer for a few things. My style is that I have several styles. But I know what my limits are. For instance, I’m not good at drawing cars but I can draw emotions and social relationships quite well. My aim is to simplify texts as well as the images.

Do you work in silence or do you listen to music?

LIISA BLOG pic IIII like to listen to audio books when I don’t have to do any so-called intellectual work and I’ve made all the decisions about how I’m going to proceed with the illustration. I like Agatha Christie, they are great stories! It has to be a book that doesn’t make me think too much. But it works when I have to only draw. Sometimes I look at my books and I remember what audio book I was listening to when I drew a squirrel or a bunny. It’s quite funny!

Tell us about the Little Papu world you have created.

We invented the tortoise’s name with my daughters on a car trip. First came the books, then the Little Papu Orchestra, the song books and CDs. I love writing poems and they are great as lyrics. It’s an incredible feeling when I go to a Little Papu concert and all the children in the hall know and sing the Little Papu songs!

Are you ever short of ideas?

Nope, never. Sometimes I have to repeat a sketch many times before I get it right. But that’s part of the creative process. The process offers you alternatives, different paths you can take, or different ways of associating ideas. If everything evolves perfectly then I would stop searching. I’m the type of illustrator who can go on forever before getting to the final version. It doesn’t matter how simple the illustration is.

Pikku papu IIWhere does the magic come from?

The magic comes from my own daily life. When I have time for myself I start consciously developing a story, but I need that time. To maintain that continuous working flow I often start thinking about the next book when I am about to finish working on another book. Having ideas gives me a sense of security.

Any new projects?

I’m starting to work on a comic book for adults. But I won’t say any more about that!

Jazzing Finland

Jazzing Finland

By Carina Chela

perko1At the age of 14 Jukka Perko had saved enough money to buy his own saxophone and after 5 years of playing the sax he was recruited into legendary Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band. Currently he is a major figure on the Nordic jazz scene and is considered one of the best saxophone players in Europe. Every year he makes sure Finnish jazz musicians have the main role at the Viapori Jazz festival, where he is the artistic director. In May 2016 the Jukka Perko Avara trio, which fuses contemporary jazz and Finnish hymns, will release their latest album, entitled Invisible Man.

Why jazz?

Actually first came the saxophone. When I was about 12 or 13 I used to listen to ska music a lot, it was very popular in those days. Ska bands had saxophonists and the sound really impressed me. So I started to look for music where the saxophone was played and the jazz just followed.

What’s special about Finnish jazz musicians?

I think what many Finnish jazz musicians have in common is a mastery of the musical skills, they are very well trained. We have good schools. Finns are well known for their high professional ethic. Of course that doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s up to the musician’s skills and personality. And a bit of luck is also always needed!

What is Finnish jazz?Perko 6

I don’t believe one can distinguish what is Finnish jazz except by recognising the perfect mastering of music, an excellence in style and playing. I think this is related to Finnish culture and to our extreme winter weather conditions. In order to survive you had to prepare well, you had to be able to master the surroundings. It’s always been about precision and hard work, weeding out what was unnecessary – like in our music.

What draws you to jazz music?

I’m attracted to the freedom and improvisation there is in jazz, or at least to the illusion of freedom. For some people freedom is to have a frame in which to work so you don’t have to think too much what to do next. Others don’t want that structure and they rebel against it. I want a framework within which I can feel free to play. So I need the freedom but I need  limits to work with.

When do you feel most inspired?

I am very easily influenced by the outside world, by people, situations, ideas, I get easily triggered. I am quite open. Therefore I sometimes feel I have to shut the doors so I don’t get too much from the outside world. In the interaction of these two places is where my ideas emerge. You can be open to the world but then you also have to know how to go to your own space and ponder and work.

What is creativity?Perko 7

Creativity is the gift of giving, at least it should be. It’s like a person that reacts to the outside world and then actively produces something.

Are you a composer or an interpreter?

I do compose but I consider myself more of an interpreter. And arranging music is important for me. I think about life as a musical arrangement. We don’t choose in which family we are born into or what will be our gender. In our lives we are given a composition out of which we make our own arrangements.

A great musical experience?

It was a street musician playing medieval music. I remember it was lousy weather, a bit cold, not too many people, but it was a wonderful moment. Most probably I was also in the right state of mind. When you tune yourself into music or adjust to the music you receive it in a different way. And I refer to both musician and listener.

Finland’s Lord of the Rings


JALO timo pic

Finland’s Lord of the Rings: a jeweller’s story

by Carina Chela

Designer and goldsmith Timo Mustajärvi creates stand-alone jewellery that makes a statement. His work is sculptural, masculine and contemporary, while retaining just enough of that signature Scandinavian minimalistic style.

Mustajärvi’s rings are popular among musicians, singers, architects, designers and Japanese tourists who visit his studioworkshop in the artist town of Fiskars. He has designed for Finland’s prestigious Lapponia collection and continuously travels around the world looking for the perfect stones to use in his work. Not many jewellery designers have their work as part of the British Museum’s collection. But Mustajärvi does.

Why jewellery?

When I was a child I used to collect stones, marble, spectrolite, tuffite. I had wonderful stones! It was always a bother when we had to move house because I would have a whole wheelbarrow full of stones! So my interest in jewellery came through stones. I realised that stones could be shaped and that they also had a function. Later on I really became a stone-freak. Well, I still am.

 What do you enjoy designing most ?JALO ring II

What I definitely enjoy the most is designing rings. I feel that I am at my best when working with a ring. I enjoy thinking about the surface of the metal or what kind of a stone or colour would be good for a certain design. I think about the sculptural side of it, not the practicality. I think about the art in the jewel. And on average it takes from 10 to 15 hours before a ring is ready. But I also enjoy designing earrings and necklaces.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I’m a very visual person and I’m interested in architecture, sculpture and graphic design. But I also get inspiration from diving. Seeing the different underwater colours and shapes is very inspirational. I am also always looking for stones, even when I’m on holiday abroad. I can find them in Asia, Europe or South America.

What about Finnish gemstones?

There isn’t a very wide variety of gemstones in Finland, and the few we have are of a weaker quality. In my work I use about 10% of local gemstones, the rest I’ve brought from other countries. But we do have the Luumäki gem Beryl which is the most valuable one, the Luosto amethyst and of course spectrolite.JALO ring

What’s more important, the material or the design?

Both. I am a designer but a good design needs good material. This is implicit in my work. Lately I have also asked my clients to bring their old jewellery to see if we can recycle the metal. Most people want to recycle, and old jewellery usually has its sentimental value.

JALO necklaceYour favourite stone?

Rock crystal which is found mainly in Madagascar. It’s an expensive stone but it’s beautiful. It’s a very pure stone, it’s like glass, it shines, there are no impurities in that stone.

How do you unplug from your work?

I like getting my hands dirty in the garden, it relaxes me. Next summer I’m hoping to plant some apple trees.

A designer with a crush on geometry

A designer with a crush on geometry
by Carina Chela

Janine Blog pic 1She lives out-of-the-box and loves geometrical vector lines. Illustrator and designer Janine Rewell already has a stack of illustration work under her belt. Helsinki native Rewell’s work can be seen on Nike t-shirts, Crate&Barrel teapots, Samsung, Swarovski and Finnair ad campaigns as well as editorial illustrations for publications such as The Times and The Wall Street Journal. In December 2015 Rewell was the first western juror invited to the China Illustration Biennale.

Why geometry?
When I was studying there was a lot of illustration done with photo manipulation. But I wanted something more simple and iconic. So I started experimenting with geometrical shapes. It took off really well. I was among the first wave of people working with geometrical vector illustration. I got a lot of attention right away. If you look back in history, cubism was cutting the angles straight and looking for the true essence of an object by simplifying rather than adding a lot of details. That was my aim when I started looking for my style.

Grafikern Janine Rewell ??r den f??rsta som ska designa om Hbl:s parad. 25.04.2012 / Tor Wennstr??m

Could you describe your role as an illustrator in today’s media?
I’ve always looked into media that are not traditionally used in illustration. As my style is two-dimensional I try to find different media that can help make it three-dimensional – like body painting projects or designing dollhouses, for example. Normally illustration is for a paper or digital format. I want to expand the field of illustration so that there’s a bigger client base that I can serve, and an artistic and commercial side to it.

What keeps you going?
For me it’s the media that changes and the different types of commissions that keep me going. I want to present in my portfolio seeds of ideas to art directors to show the different possibilities of illustrations. I can conceptualize illustrations for a wide range of clients and needs. That’s why I feel there’s a need to expand, a need to keep it going. So it doesn’t get stuck anywhere.

You have entered the Asian market, what is that like?
The Asian market is massive. I feel that I’m only just getting in there. They have a market for illustration that doesn’t exist in Europe. In Asia there are malls with huge 3 dimensional installations inside where you can make a 10 metre tall bunny if you want. In Finland people might scratch their heads about things like that… It’s exciting to see how my work can take over spaces on a grand scale.

How would you define inspiration?JANINE Blog
I wouldn’t say inspiration is one single thing, it’s rather a way for every creative person to be with the world. It’s not an on/off switch. Inspiration is on all the time.

Where do you get your ideas from?
If you keep repeating the same patterns you don’t get new triggers for ideas. I like to travel to places where the culture is not similar to the western culture, or to where I live. I like to do things differently, to put things in places where they are not usually seen. Insight happens when you challenge your brain, when you do things with your left hand instead of your right hand. That’s why I like to put myself in places where uncommon bridges could be built.

What kind of surroundings are you looking for when you travel?
Living and walking in unfamiliar settings. For example, as a child I went to the Greek island of Lefkada. For me it was a dreamlike place. I went back in 2014 and spent a month there at an artist residence in an isolated village. I lived in a small house, no stores nearby, and I was surrounded by goats, cats, and crazy village stories.

What do you enjoy most in your work?
Every day when I don’t have to wake up so early and go to work for somebody else. As a freelancer the freedom is the best part. Every day is different. And I am now so established with my style that nobody asks me to do something I don’t want to do.