Interview on October 17, 2011
Hello Jenni! How are you?
- Very well! This autumn I have more time to dedicate to painting, and I’m very happy that work seems to have taken a new course.
Tell us about yourself.
- I’m an a visual artist. Among other things I work painting, drawing, making animations, illustrations, print designing and art books. I’m also the founder of Napa Books publishing house and Napa Gallery in Helsinki.
You have designed two beautiful prints for Marimekko’s Autumn/Winter Collection. How did this cooperation start?
- We were thinking about a cooperation, but at first it was difficult to find a clear direction. Then Marimekko’s designer Noora Niinikoski came to my office and saw the paintings I was working on at the moment. Noora had a great idea: to use my paintings on fabrics, printing them with digital technique – since the vividness of the colours requires a special technique. I did several collages for Noora in which I combined my paintings in different ways. We had in mind since the beginning that the prints would have been used on dresses and they were adjusted several times keeping in mind dresses’ proportions.
The colourful Tilkku print designed for Marimekko decorates Tilma dress by Noora Niinikoski
Especially Tilkku print looks like painted on fabric. Were you involved in the production process and what were the challenges in it?
- That’s true – it seems like painted directly on fabric and not just printed! And the velvet and silk materials chosen by Noora work perfectly with the colours. From the technical point of view there were many new things for me, but I enjoy challenges and learning something new.
Will the cooperation with Marimekko continue?
- Yes! In autumn next year I will design new prints both for the interior decoration and for the clothes’ collection.
You run Napa Books publishing house. What books does it publish?
- Napa publishes books in cooperation with young Finnish artists and illustrators. I make a book if I feel that a certain artist has something to give specifically in a book format. Moreover we publish flipbooks, i.e. little animation books. In December Napa will publish the work that won this year’s flipbook competition. At the beginning of next year Napa will publish a book with a collection of works by Maija Luutonen, and in spring a new book by Pauliina Mäkelä. All of them young Finnish talents!
Yöllä kello kolme, animation
What about Napa Gallery?
- At the beginning of 2010 I got tired of running the gallery alone, so I gathered together a group of artists, curator students and exhibition pedagogy students, with whom we founded the gallery society. At the moment the gallery society board consists of ten people. The gallery is located in Eerikinkatu, Helsinki, and exhibitions change monthly ranging from photography, illustrations and paintings to sculptures, graffiti and installations.
Where do you find time and energy for everything?
- I just can’t be without doing anything! Sometimes I try to stop and decide which things are more important than others, that is important too. But jumping from a project to a different one you see things better, works feed each other.
Is independent work a conscious choice?
- I started to make self-published books at the beginning of the 1990s with the copying machine of my father’s working place. Nowadays I consider every book like an artwork of mine – maybe that’s why publishing them seems to me necessary and imperative, like starting a new painting.
The Pit, painting from year 2010
Who are your favourite designers and artists?
- Lately I’ve started to like painters like Misaki Kawai and Allison Schulnik. And of course among Finns the designer Oiva Toikka, except for the birds.
Where do you get the inspiration for your illustrations and paintings?
- Ideas can come from anything. You only have to set your brains to a certain frequency, so that you’ll see inspiring things also in the most ordinary situations.
Your illustrations can be seen at the bus stops as well as in tea towels. Do you have a favourite media?
- No, different shapes and materials are interesting to experiment with.
Silkscreen print made for the exhibition at Bongout Gallery in Berlin
At the end of November you will have an exhibition starting at AMA Gallery in Helsinki. What kind of works will be exhibited there?
- Bigger paintings. And a new animation.
What are your hobbies?
- Visiting galleries, movies, concerts, ashtanga yoga and next summer hopefully also canoeing.
Can you suggest us what to do in your home town, Helsinki, in autumn?
- I suggest the cinemas Kino Engel and Orion, there you can still find good movies.
Text: Mikko Vaija
Translation: Daniela Chiucchiù