A CUP OF TEA WITH: ARTIST ANNU KILPELÄINEN
A colleague received a print in the post one morning at work. Always interested to see friends' home purchases I eagerly made my way over to her desk. What she opened was a screen print of someone in very brightly printed clothes carrying shopping bags. It was ultra zoomed in and just focus on a single area. The colour popped off of the paper in tropical brights. WHO WAS THIS ARTIST?!
Since that day I've been following Annu's work, and knew I had to interview her for the blog when her latest piece of work blew up on instagram. It was provocative, bright and POP in all its glory. This was the piece...
Firstly, for anyone who doesn't know you, can you tell us a bit about you?
I am Annu, a Finnish born Illustrator. I graduated from University Of The Arts London LCC in 2010 and now live and work in London.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your work, or the Annu style?
I am drawn to bold colours so they take over all of my work. Clear simple shapes are my favourites too. I like to experiment with a lot of art materials, and then introduce them to my work when the right kind of subject matter comes in. Mainly it's Posca pens and acrylics, but its always good to keep your eyes open and slowly shift your work to different directions.
How do you choose your subject matter?
It is usually just something I feel interested in - it can be just a little idea. Usually just very simple things, like a stop frame of time. I have also drawn a lot of cars, as they feel like an extension of your identity in some funny way. I got really interested in the whole culture of doing up cars so then mine are done up outside with great decorations instead of big bass or a better motor.
I noticed you sometimes zoom right in on certain sections of a body, what inspired that?
The first one was of the guy with tulip trousers and shopping bags. I just noticed I always had the exact same colour palette in my shopping bags after going somewhere for basic food things; getting vegetables from the market, buying pens from one shop etc, and thought as I know the colour palette already I could easily match it. And there was also the bigger idea of humans drifting away from nature by consumerism. Theres always funny little things and bigger ideas of life behind most of the work.
You always use very tropical bright colours. What inspired your colour palette?
I started introducing colour to my work at the end of my studies. I was doing a lot of line drawing first as I thought you need to learn to draw before you start doing any abstract things, and that was how it went. Black and White started feeling a bit plain for me so I started using colours and got to the point of leaving out the outlines and just seeing how the colours interact without barriers.
Do you ever think you will use dark colours?
Oh I definitely will. I have been doing a little sketching with very minimal colour palettes or darks and lights as just doing anything same over and over again will get boring for yourself and others too. Maybe it's not doing completely Black or White works but introducing colour palettes that are not all shouting 'tropical' all the time. I do live the brights so don't worry! Though I have so many things yet to draw in my head the colours will stay strong.
What's your main medium, and why do you choose it?
Mainly Posca and acrylics on paper. I would love to start doing bigger scale but at the moment its more of needing more space to make that possible, that is why I am actually in Finland for a month at the moment, trying out few new things and doing a project I didn't have enough space for in London. But Poscas and acrylics came naturally because of the strong pigments and they both dry pretty quick too.
Can you tell us a bit about the process of printing / painting? I think you have been printing at the Peckham print studio, is that right?
Actually Peckham Print Studio has been printing for me. As much as I loved trying things on screen printing at uni my skills are not nearly there to produce seven layer prints yet, but the boys have done amazing job on them. It's nice as they get a more mechanical, very blocky look yet they are still hand made.
Where do you sell your works?
I put together a shop of my own as I started having some prints and people were asking about the available originals, I still have quite a few originals though that are not on it. Then I have some prints and originals on a few different websites: No Walls Gallery, Tan & Loose Press, Peckham Print Studio, Art Wednesdays, Bellykids and Printer Of Dreams.
What would you advise someone to do who was trying to reawaken their creativity?
It is of course very different to different people, the main thing I think is give yourself a bit of time and change of scenery - nothing comes out forced (or well something does but its not usually the best you can do). Always go and see things, art shows, theatre, nature, people. Just do stuff, be active and sleep well!
What's the hardest part about being an artist?
Well you obviously are working all the time, no matter if you are on a holiday or at the studio. But then thats the good thing about it as well. Maybe the office work and hunting down invoices.
Was it hard to go into the world of being an artist full time?
I've only been full time since february - it took few years of doing other jobs first. I thought that was just something I had to try, and can always get a job somewhere if it doesn't work out. There have been months of eating porridge but now everything seems great. You just need to do a lot of work to get everything rolling.
What are you influenced by?
By everything really, I hate answering like this but it comes where it comes. I love to look through the art history and the new illustrators out there but I think most important is keeping my little sketchbook of things I have thought or seen, as those are the ones that feed in to being actual artworks later on.
Do you make your pieces with an end user in mind? How would you describe them?
Not really, sometimes for commercial work you obviously do but all of my own work just runs through what I like, I have done works previously thinking it would please someone else but those are usually the things I end up disliking the most afterwards.
Who's your favourite artist?
Oh there are plenty! I gather things and artists that interest me on a tumblr (there are also some of my own works). It is more like finding individual pieces of works that interest me rather than looking at the whole career of an artist. Though there is all time favourites too - like Tove Jansson, Ken Done and David Hockney.