Kalevaiset

(This blog post is about a personal project I did inspired by the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. The project is in Finnish, which is why I’ll write about it in Finnish as well. Apologies in advance for the not-so-sensible sentences Google translate will provide to non-Finnish speakers!)

Helmikuun lopussa liputettiin Kalevalan päivää. Kalevala-teema oli tapetilla myös kouluissa, ja eräänä juhlapäivää edeltävänä iltana Facebookia selatessani silmiini osui kissavideoiden sijaan opettajien välillä käyty keskustelu aiheeseen liittyen. Useampikin opettaja tuntui kaipailevan Kalevala-teemaan sopivia värityskuvia ja askarteluvinkkejä. Tämä jäi kytemään mieleeni, ja seuraavana päivänä päätin aloittaa hieman erilaisen kuvitusprojektin: Kalevalasta tuttujen henkilöiden muuttamisen väritettäviksi 3D-hahmoiksi.

Viime vuosina kuvitus- ja askarteluprojektini ovat olleet melkoisen kaksiulotteisia. Internetin ihmemaailmaa apuna käyttäen ja soveltaen onnistuin kuitenkin kehittämään hahmoille sopivan, melko yksinkertaisen muodon, jonka saksia jo näppärästi käyttävä lapsikin saisi leikattua ja liimattua kokoon. Hahmojen ominaispiirteitä ja vaatetusta miettiessäni tulin myös lukeneeksi kunkin henkilön taustoja ja Kalevalan tarinoita, jotka olin suhteellisen lahjakkaasti onnistunut unohtamaan. Lukiessa muodostin oman mielikuvani piirrettävistä hahmoista; Lemminkäinen sai naistennaurattajalle sopivat käkkäräviikset, kun taas Seppo Ilmarinen alkoi muistuttaa tyylikästä käsityöläisyrittäjää hipsterivivahtein. Vaikka ilme vakaan vanhan Väinämöisen kasvoilla onkin tuima ja Louhen kulmat ovat pahikselle sopivalla tavalla kurtussa, hahmoista muovaantui kaikenkaikkiaan melko sympaattisen näköisiä. Tämän vuoksi nimesinkin porukan tuttavallisesti Kalevaisiksi.

Ajatuksenani oli koko projektin ajan jakaa valmiit Kalevaiset kaikkien askarteluintoisten käyttöön. Mietin pitkään parasta tapaa laittaa hahmot ilmaiseen jakoon, ja lopulta päätin käyttää hupiprojektiani mahdollisuutena tehdä jotain hyvää. Niinpä loin tämän sivun, jota kautta kuka tahansa saa tilattua Kalevaiset käyttöönsä (vapaaehtoista) lahjoitusta vastaan. Kaikki lahjoitukset, niin aivan pienet kuin vähän isommatkin, menevät Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliiton työn tukemiseen. Toivon, että Kalevaiset pystyvät näin ilahduttamaan paitsi askartelijoita myös niitä lapsia ja nuoria, jotka ovat tuen tarpeessa. (Huom. Kalevaisten tilaaminen onnistuu tarvittaessa myös ilman lahjoitusta. Latauslinkin löydät täältä.)

Nyt kun Kalevaiset ovat valmiina lähtemään maailmalle, heilutan hahmojen perään ja toivotan kaikille askartelijoille hauskoja hetkiä Kalevaisten kanssa!

Kuulen mielelläni kommentteja ja ehdotuksia myös muista hahmoista, jotka tulisivat kouluissa, kerhoissa tai askartelua harrastavissa huusholleissa tarpeeseen. Älä siis epäröi ottaa yhteyttä! 🙂

2017

The year is coming to its end, and although my blog has been hibernating in the past months, I felt like I should somehow wrap 2017 up in writing.

After summer, I resigned from what had been my daily 9-5 job for 1,5 years. I had been very unfulfilled by that job already for a while; yes, it was stable and paid the bills alright, but it didn’t feed my creativity in anyway nor did it give me a feeling of learning or growing. Although I had already figured that I wouldn’t necessarily need to be a full-time illustrator in order to feel satisfied with my daily work, I was definitely missing some kind of creative challenge.

Soon after quitting I started as a graphic designer and content creator at a start-up that creates tools (e.g. online games) for teaching 21st century skills and programming to kids. I can not even begin to tell you how happy I was to a) get to work for a company whose mission I find important and b) contribute my skills knowing that I could be useful. The nice thing about the job is that although I work a lot with design and also have illustration tasks every now and then, the style is very different from the one of my own. That keeps things exciting and leaves me energy and motivation to work on my personal illustration projects, too. (Unlike when I was freelancing – illustrating first for clients and then for yourself was often a bit too much to ask from my enthusiasm.)

Overall, this year was quite alright illustration-wise. I didn’t make much progress with the bigger personal projects I had planned for 2017, but other assignments kept me nicely busy: I helped with a re-design of a book, made many custom portraits, worked on some personal pieces just for fun and designed materials for one of Finland’s 100th Independence Day events. Surprisingly enough, I hardly felt guilty about not working as much on my personal projects as I had initially planned. During the year I came to terms with the fact that having a day job and trying to freelance next to it or do anything that could in itself be a full-time job can really wear you out in the long run (How surprising!). It’s okay to not force yourself forward if you need a rest or just some brainless spare time instead. It took me 29 years to realise that, and although it might not be the most mind-blowing realisation to many, it is actually a pretty big mental milestone for me.

Instagram is getting filled with Best Nine 2017-photos, so let’s finish with that. Here’s to quitting, starting, learning and taking it easy every now and then – Happy New Year!

Favourite children’s books: Hello Ruby

If you are into coding, educational children’s literature or you happen to be Finnish, you might have already heard of the book I’m about to showcase. I’m a huge fan of this book and the concept behind it, so without further ado, let me present to you Hello Ruby!


Hello Ruby
Written and illustrated by Linda Liukas

Badge of greatness for the imaginative way of morphing a learning experience into a story


The mastermind behind Hello Ruby is Linda Liukas, a Finnish programmer and educator, whose mission is to make the world of technology more approachable for everyone – including kids. That’s how her book, Hello Ruby, was born. Hello Ruby is a story about a little girl, whose father gives her a mystery to solve. The mystery takes Ruby on an adventure, during which she meets lots of new friends; penguins, Django and his pet snake Python, Snow Leopard, Robots and Foxes.

As you might already guess from their names, all the characters of the story are based on and inspired by actual technologies and things related to programming. This kind of insider jokes add to the whimsical story and will surely amuse older readers as well. Aimed at 5 – 7 year olds, the story itself is far from the complexities of programming. The book introduces programming concepts such as decomposition, pattern recognition and sequences through the characters, and applies the concepts to everyday situations kids can relate to.

At the back of the book the reader can find fun activities related to the concepts introduced in the story. The book is surely at its best when a child gets to read it with a grown-up, visiting the activity section of each chapter together after reading them. (Though I assure you, doing this by yourself as an adult is pretty fun, too!)

Prior to Hello Ruby, the author-illustrator Liukas had no experience in writing children’s stories nor illustrating them. According to her, she studied illustration on Pinterest and practiced by drawing things over and over again until she would get them right. Although drawn digitally (with the legendary Kyle Brushes I recently started using as well), the illustrations in the book have a soft hand-drawn – even sketch-like – feel to them. The cute simplified characters with their innocent faces make me think of Japan and Hello Kitty. With this kind of aesthetics and a technology driven concept it’s no surprise that the book has made it big in Asia, too!

The determination of Liukas to get things done and learn on the way is really admirable. It blows my mind that she has made Hello Ruby happen all on her own by crowdfunding the first book through Kickstarter and writing and illustrating the story by herself. With. No. Prior. Experience. Reading about people like her is truly a motivational kick in the butt for those of us who tend to make excuses to not get started and be slightly less efficient when it comes to executing Great Ideas.

Kudos to Linda! To find out more about the philosophy and the story behind Hello Ruby, watch this TED talk: