Creative bus designs

Living abroad, I always notice some small changes when I go back home (to Finland, that is). Bars that have disappeared from the nightlife scene and new cafes that have opened their doors. Moomin cheese (yes, that really exists), new ice cream flavours or the latest food inventions like pulled oats that are flying off the shelves.

This year, however, also the buses caught my attention. A few bus lines had gone through visual make-overs, and I was really excited to see that they had chosen playfully illustrated styles instead of sticking with something serious and corporate.

Below you can see a long distance bus of Savonlinja, visually transformed by Nitroid. If you are curious to read more about the beauty treatment of the company (in Finnish), you can find more information here.

savonlinjaPhoto by Savonlinja

Here’s a preview of the buses of Jyväskylän seudun joukkoliikenne, re-branded by an agency called Zeniitti. You can find more about the project here (in Finnish). Video by Zeniitti

These vehicles were really a joy to see in city centers as well as on the long, quiet roads between villages. Not only did they look cute and cheerful, but I also liked how both transformations had been inspired by locality and Finland. Whereas Savonlinja’s new look was influenced by the landscape and nature of the country, the re-design of Jyväskylä’s buses was to communicate the pleasantness of living in the area. 

Speaking of small things that can make a big difference, one should never underestimate the positive effect a pretty image on a bus might have. Applause to Nitroid, Zeniitti and the brave Finnish bus lines that are replacing corporate with cheerfulness!

To hustle or not to hustle?

creative_desk_busy_work_by_emmi_ojala

I recently listened to an episode of Design Life FM podcast. The topic of the episode was the hustle mindset. At the beginning of the show, the two hosts raised a question of what hustling means to different people. The answers that were given evoked so many thoughts in me that I felt like I needed to share my own answer as well. You see, hustling is a word I’m all too familiar with.

It all began when I moved to the Netherlands and started studying fashion and branding. Having dreamt about studying in that particular school, learning the ins and outs of branding, I was ready and willing to devote myself to it 100%. Yes – I was there to hustle! We were taught to live and breathe fashion, to always be on the lookout for inspiration and bust our asses off for great, creative results. Our teachers wanted us to succeed and expected only the best from us. My to-do lists were quite impressive, and I didn’t miss any opportunity to make use of my time. The early morning commutes were spent studying or polishing homework from the night before, and the same continued on my way back home. Weekends weren’t days off; they were simply extensions of the working week. The ambitious bubble me and my fellow students lived in nourished the hustle mindset; our communal hunger for learning and becoming better and better encouraged each and every one of us to keep pushing ourselves further. We were what you could call serial hustlers. Someone had written “no rest for the obsessed” on the wall of the school’s bathroom. 

After a while, keeping myself oh so busy started giving me a feeling of accomplishment. Writing to-do lists and scheduling my days wasn’t a way to work smarter or balance my days better – it was something I did simply because it made me feel accomplished and somehow important. The longer the lists, the cooler I felt, hustlin’ and all! At that point things weren’t so great anymore. I started noticing that the harder I tried and the more I pushed, the more I also struggled. Creative ideas didn’t come to me anymore; I needed to force and squeeze them out of my mind. It was patently clear that I really needed a break…and yet, it was hard to let go of the urge to hustle for the sake of hustling.

Hustling can mean different things to different people. Whereas some see it as a positive force and a creative gear they can switch on and off, to me the definition is much like Femke’s definition of it on the Design Life FM podcast: “working obsessively, striving to achieve something by putting everything else aside”. It is far too common in the creative field to lift the 24/7 hustlers on a pedestal as passionate strivers, making it seem like devoting yourself fully to work is the only way to get anywhere. That gives me the shivers. Being dedicated is great, but devoting your entire life solely to whatever it is you are passionate about isn’t going to do you any favours in the long run.

Today my way of working is very different from the dark times of excessive hustling. Of course, I might occasionally work long hours, but that’s no longer the norm. If you see me pulling an all-nighter, it’s not because I am prioritising a deadline over my sleep or spare time – it’s because I am simply too enthusiastic to pause.

All in all, obsessive hustling for the sake of hustling isn’t really that cool. How about declaring ourselves independent from the workaholism praising world and working within our own limits instead?

Illustrated treasures: Astronautin rusinapulla

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present you the third book in my archive of inspiring children’s books: a rhyming Finnish poetry book (which unfortunately hasn’t been translated to English) written by one of my favourite children’s book authors, Jukka Itkonen.


Astronautin rusinapulla
Loosely translated: Astronaut’s Raisin Bun
Written by Jukka Itkonen, illustrated by Matti Pikkujämsä

Badge of greatness for playful rhymes and matching visuals


astronautin-rusinapulla-lasten-lorukirjaI love, love, love rhymes, and when I first came across the children’s books of Jukka Itkonen, it was literally literary love at first page. The prolific Finnish writer has written multiple rhyming poetry books for children under different themes, and now I will present you one of them: Astronaut’s Raisin Bun. The theme of this collection of poems is food: where it comes from, who makes it and how it is eaten. The poems introduce a number of different characters and their food-related stories. There’s a picky eater, a real culinarista, a secret agent and a pizza baker, just to mention a few. The characters are exhilaratingly recognisable and the choice of words in the poems are sure to give the reader – young or old – the giggles.

astronautin-rusinapulla-lasten-lorukirjaInstead of focusing on fantasies (although Astronaut’s Raisin Bun does feature a superman), the books of Itkonen tend to give a witty spin to perfectly normal things, portraying them from a humorous point of view. As you might remember from the previous book feature, I’m a huge fan of writers who have this kind of realistic yet amusing approach to their stories. 

astronautin-rusinapulla-lasten-lorukirjaWhen it comes to illustrations, Astronaut’s Raisin Bun is not the only book that Jukka Itkonen and the illustrator Matti Pikkujämsä have collaborated on. And if you ask me, that’s no wonder – the raw brush strokes of Pikkujämsä go really well with the uncomplicated, humorous text. Also the typographic choice of hand-written titles combined with a typewriter font compliments the style of the book well. All in all, I think the written and visual elements of the book compliment each other beautifully, making a great, coherent package.

astronautin-rusinapulla-lasten-lorukirjaastronautin-rusinapulla-lasten-lorukirjaMy favourite poem in the book is about a grandma, who reminisces her childhood in a pizzeria. It was so wonderfully fun that I had to make my own grandma read it, too! To give you a taste of the poems in the book, here’s a snippet of it (in Finnish):

Isoäiti pizzeriassa

Muistot tulvii mieleeni,
ja kerron vähän tästä
minun lapsuudestani
ja maalaiselämästä.

Ennen vanhaan eläminen
oli erilaista.
Ei meille ruokaa lennätetty
kaukaisista maista.

Kirnupiimää hörpittiin
ja syötiin piirakoita.
Ja kun kermaa kirnuttiin
niin siitä tuli voita.

Vanhat ajat, niistä kyllä
riittäis kertomista.
Tarjoilija, olkaa hyvä,
tuokaa pizzalista.

Oh boy. Did I already mention how much I love rhyming poems…?