This March’s dröm sessions, we had the opportunity to catch up with Finnish illustrator – Hanna Konola! Hanna uses the most quirky and somewhat unexpected pairings and combinations from the colour palette, her illustrations are so simplistic yet so complex both at the same time. We stumbled and fell in love with Hanna’s works when we saw them at Tokyo in indie stores such as Galerie Doux Dimanche & Uguisu. But now let’s go beyond & dig deeper into Hanna’s creative brains as we interview her, let’s go!
Three giclée prints. Exhibited at LOKAL, Helsinki.
Hello there Hanna! We’d like to know how did art/illustration became a part of who you are, what started your passion?
Hello Dröm! I’ve always enjoyed drawing, making things and using my imagination. I had the urge to do something different, the curiosity to look for something new and I felt that I could do that somewhere in the field of art and design. But I never knew exactly what I wanted to be, I just kept doing things.
Your illustration style is very distinct – from the minimalist shapes/strokes down to the palette of sprightly colours used. Could you share with us how you developed your illustration style – a style that truly speaks of yourself.
I’ve never tried too hard to find a certain style, I don’t think anyone should bother with it too much. I just try to listen to myself, what feels right to me. Maybe you’ll evolve some kind of style after a certain amount of time of doing things, yet you’ll always be looking for something new.
You seem very much like an inquisitive visual explorer, documenting and archiving visual discoveries from the understated everyday life, we noticed you even use film photography! How does an idea or inspiration hit you, what motivates you to create the way you do?
I pay attention to the things around me, may it be a song I’m listening to, something I see outside or find on the internet, and then there’s the time when you can use all those things. I don’t stick to a certain working process. I want to find something new or to express myself, so that motivates me. I often start by writing things on paper, drawing and/or making a moodboard.
Some explorations of Tokyo’s shapes and colours, through the lenses of Hanna’s curious eyes.
“From Hana to Hanna, from Hanna to Hana” was a collaboration you had with Japanese artist, Hana Akiyama. And out of that, sparked off a book, and thereafter an exhibition at at IDÉE Midtown, Tokyo. Before this, in 2010 you also had an exhibition called “Making a Home” with Hana, how did your friendship with Hana started? What were some of your personal highlights or favorite moments from this cross cultural collaborative effort? Oh, how we wished so much that we would be able to visit the exhibition!
We both had been working for Biotope shop in Tokyo and when I went to Tokyo for exchange studies, Tsukiji Masato, the shop owner, introduced Hana and me. He suggested us to have a collaborative exhibition at Biotope and that’s how it started. We’ve become good friends and shared many moments together with Hana. It was very interesting to learn about Hana’s approach towards illustration, her working process and finding a way to work together.
Above photos from “Hana + Hanna, Making A Home”. An exhibition by Hanna Konola with Japanese artist – Hana Akiyama.
How different were the environments between Tokyo and Helsinki? Was there a vast contrast in terms of culture/inspiration? if so, how different were they (could you describe the differences in experiences that you had in both cities)?
They’re completely different enviroments yet they share many things. It’s pretty hard to put into words but it’s a totally different atmosphere in Tokyo, how it sounds and looks and smells, how you function in the city and communicate with people. Things work in a different way and you’re bound to work in a different way too. But then again for a Finn it’s very easy to be in Tokyo, nobody comes too close, people are polite and not too self-centered as we Finns don’t want to show off either 😉 It’s good to see things, including your own work, from a completely different perspective.
Blue Waves illustrations – 1 & 2, Miyajima. 3, detail of a blue print from a diy-event in Gakugei-daigaku.
What is your favorite part of being an illustrator/creator.
Finding new things and being able to share another kind of view of the world. Also being a freelancer I enjoy that I can go to the direction I want to and what happens or doesn’t happen is a lot up to myself.
Retki paper goods for Kauniste.
May we also have some sneaky peaks of your own studio/home? What are some of your favourite spots within your studio/home?
At home I like the view from our windows. The other way we can see old pine trees, birds, rabbits, hedgehogs in the summer, lots of different kind of bushes, flowers and plants. Other side of the apartment we can see people walking by, taking their dogs to the park and so on.
Breathtaking view of thick luscious greens from Hanna’s home window.
Snippets of Hanna’s studio, from outside in.
Please share with us an all time favorite Hanna Konola creation, and tell us what makes it your favorite?
I don’t really have a favourite, usually I like my newest work the best, but my “Knot” print has stuck with me quite well.
Hanna’s favourite creation, titled – “Knot”.
Apart from creating art, what are some of your other favourite things to do?
I enjoy walking and biking around, going swimming (especially in lakes and the sea), enjoying long and slow breakfasts with friends & family, making small trips and bigger ones, being at home, having weekends without any plans.
Hanna was invited to create cookie boxes artworks for a new scandinavian deli shop at Isetan department store, Tokyo. Out of which, she later also made the artwork for their seasonal cookie selection which included some delicious lingonberry cookies. These series of Hanna’s work was the first that struck us when we were at Tokyo, her graphics were really jumping out at us amongst all the other sweets!
Lastly, is there anything that you can say to advise or encourage all new/aspiring illustrators out there?
I have one practical piece of advice, don’t work too cheap or if you do, there has to be a strong reason for it. And another less practical, you might not know where you’re going but you’ll know it afterwards, just keep going as you please!
Above illustrations are from Hanna’s Joulu Kalenteri Christmas Advent calendar 2011. One picture per day, from 1st of December to 24th. Counting down to 25th December, Christmas day.
And finally, meet Hanna Konola, the creative person behind her awesome illustrations!