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Inspiration

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!

Colours of Italy

Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala

A few weeks ago, I packed my backpack and travelled to Italian Riviera. The week I spent there (marinating myself in SPF 50 sunscreen) was wonderful. We travelled from one town to another and changed the scenery pretty much everyday, ate great pizza, amazing gelato and found the best pasta bolognese in a simple beach bar in San Remo. We walked till our feet were about to fall off, swam in the most extraordinary places between the cliffs and also got to experience an impressive thunderstorm on the hills.

I carried my camera everywhere we went and it became a bit of a thing for me to photograph the charmingly colourful old buildings. Some of them also had painted decorations on them, making it difficult to see whether the intricate frames around the windows were real or 2D paintings. Indeed, the Italians seemed to have paid lots of attention to details and the colour palette of their towns. 

Visiting the colourful villages, I couldn’t help thinking what a pity it is that the majority of Northern European cities are quite plain and colourless. It reminded me of something that happened years ago in Finland, when my parents decided to be a bit playful and had the wall of our back porch painted purple. The innocent splash of colour resulted in a disapproving comment from the officials. Luckily, the porch was facing the forest, so there was practically no-one except the squirrels to see it. Therefore, we didn’t end up having to repaint it. Of course, the case would have been different had there been another house facing our back yard, allowing our neighbours to see the purple porch. Good grief, the poor people might even have found it cheerful!

Anyway, back to Italy. Here’s a glimpse of the Italian colour palette:

Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_OjalaRiviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Riviera_colours_by_Emmi_Ojala Were you able to spot the painted 2D window frames…?

Favourite children’s books: Filippa & Company – The Great Escape

I recently took a holiday to visit family and friends in Finland. Although it was a laid-back vacation, I had some things on my agenda; next to going to sauna, swimming in a lake and eating cinnamon buns, I also wanted to make an excursion to a library and devote an afternoon to reading children’s books. I already had some books in mind that I wanted to chase down, and generally I was just curious to see what kind of illustrated treasures I would find on the bookshelves.

Getting to read through a pile of books was really fun, and it also helped me clarify and confirm my thoughts and views on children’s books in general. Now I have a bit more concrete idea of how I would like to develop myself as a storyteller and illustrator. It makes me feel challenged and that, my friends, is quite crucial if you want to avoid getting overly comfortable with your go-to style!

To make a little archive of inspiring children’s books, I decided to make a series of blog posts featuring some of my favourite publications. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me present you the first one in the series:


Filippa & Company: The Great Escape
Original Finnish title: Filippa & Kumppanit: Piano Karkaa
by Marika Maijala and Juha Virta

Badge of greatness for graphic style


Piano Karkaa 1

This book was published by Etana Editions, a small Finnish publishing house that has been producing absolutely beautiful books in the past few years. I have always admired their publications, and now I finally got a chance to take a closer look at one of them. In short, the book tells a story about Filippa and her friends, who find a piano on their yard. All of them have different ideas for how to use the piano; it turns out that next to being an instrument, a piano can also function as a coffee table or a place for a nap. However, as Filippa’s friends are busy multipurposing the piano, somewhere someone is missing his instrument.

Piano Karkaa 5

Piano Karkaa 2
What makes the book so special is the playful graphic style and the bold colour palette that sets the mood for each page. Every page looks different, and I love the loose feeling in the illustrations. This book is a perfect example of how a fully illustrated spread with lots of details can feel somewhat haphazard and yet be beautifully composed at the same time. I find this kind of style really lovely, perhaps because I always tend to go for structured compositions myself. It can be quite challenging to create this kind of full, creative spreads without trying to over-tie your artwork to a grid, so thumbs up to the illustrator Marika Maijala for a job well done!

Piano Karkaa 4

Next to this one, Etana Editions recently published another book called A Year with the Wind (Finnish: Tuulen vuosi), which also looks really lovely. I haven’t gotten a chance to read that one, but concluding from the images online, I could pretty much frame every single spread from it on our walls! So, if you are looking for visually exciting and unique children’s books, the selection of Etana Editions is worth of checking out!

EDIT: Initially I repeated the word “lovely” in this post about six times. Trying not to get too syrupy, I ended up replacing a few “lovelies” with other words…but anyway, this book really is lovely!