Essi Kimpimäki is a Finish illustrator who will be featured in my upcoming 10th anniversary limited edition artists’ book, That Which We Do Not Understand. You can also buy her wonderful work as a limited edition print featuring real gold leaf: visit my Kickstarter campaign here to find out more. Essi relocated to Scotland to study at the Glasgow School of Art. She creates textures through the use of ink, rollers, watercolour, paint, sponge and pencils, before scanning her work into Photoshop where she plays around with the colours and arrangements. Shamaness (above) is her contribution to my book and is inspired by ancient Mesoamerican civilisations who believed there was a strong connection between the spirit and visible world. The jaguar was a protective spirit companion for shamans as they moved between the realms and the bird is emblematic of the ecstatic trance state.
How did you research the themes for Shamaness, and what was it in particular that appealed to you about the ideas you chose to illustrate?
I have always been really interested in different cultures, of both past and present, all around the world – the further away the better! I find it fascinating how differently people perceive the world we all live in, and especially the more abstract ideas in life, the things we do not fully understand. In my opinion, the old civilizations usually had the most interesting ways of seeing things, which is why I looked at the ancient Mesoamerican cultures for this project, and the way they saw and experienced the connection between the spirit and visible world.
The colour palette is amazing, where did you find inspiration for such a bold scheme?
Thank you! I work pretty intuitively when it comes to colours; I like using bold colours in my work in general, and I suppose with this one the bright colour palette came naturally with the exotic location deep in the jungle. I also wanted to create a stark contrast between the shamaness and the dark background of the night-time jungle.
How did you find out about the open brief and why did you decide to submit?
I think I first saw it on my Twitter feed. I have admired Amelia’s Magazine for a long time but never had the chance to even try to contribute to it, as it wasn’t in print anymore at the time I discovered it. So when I saw this opportunity, combined with the inspiring theme, I obviously had to give it a go!
What are your favourite subjects to draw and why?
I’d say my favourite subject to draw is definitely faraway places. There are so many places in the world that I’d like to see (but I’m pretty sure I’ll never see them all unless I win the lottery..), so I guess researching and drawing these places is kind of like alternative travelling to me. I don’t overly enjoy replicating an existing place right down to the comma, but I rather try to create an image that will hopefully convey the atmosphere of the location to the viewer.
Sketches for children’s book.
You also make your own screen prints, what do you love most about the process of creating art this way?
I currently work mostly digitally, but definitely want to get back to screen printing soon! Working digitally is faster and more cost efficient, but it’s just a completely different experience. When screen printing, you get so much more involved in the process, you are actually creating something tactile with your hands. I also find that screen printing can be pretty stressful at times; when things start going wrong, they really do go wrong, and you can’t fix it as easily as you can with Photoshop. But I guess this also adds to its charm! You can also end up with happy accidents that actually make the work better and more interesting. And seeing and feeling the lovely texture of the finished print definitely makes it all worth it.
You are originally from Finland but now reside in Glasgow… why did you decide to study in Scotland and what has kept you there?
At least at the time there weren’t really any illustration only degrees available in Finland, you had to study graphic design as well, which I wasn’t interested in. I also just wanted to live abroad again (I had previously lived and worked in England for a few short periods), so returning to the UK was an easy and natural choice for me. Because of the high tuition fees in England, I ended up looking at art schools in Scotland, decided that Glasgow seemed like a nice city, and that’s pretty much how I ended up here. My intention was never to stay here after graduation, but I guess things rarely go as you plan! I have my friends and boyfriend here now and I also find Glasgow an inspiring, exciting and friendly city to live in. If only it was located somewhere sunnier, though…
How much of an inspiration does your homeland remain, and how do you think your Finnish roots affect your approach to work?
I honestly don’t know; I’m not aware of actively being inspired by my homeland, but then again, I guess these things often happen subconsciously. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I read this from, but someone wrote that due to our location, Finnish culture is a mixture of West and East; more ornamental and romantic aesthetics from the East, and minimalistic and graphical approach from the West and Scandinavia. I think this is something I can relate to regarding my own work, so maybe that is where my roots show.
What are you working on at the moment.. can you give us any sneak peaks?
I’m actually preparing for the Christmas period at the moment; folding cards, cutting cardboard, packing prints, sending out orders. I have just received my Christmas cards and a few other new prints from the printers, ready for the Christmas market I’m attending next month. In addition to this, I’ve been doing some very early sketches of the main character cat for a children’s book that me and my friend are working on!
Don’t forget to visit my Kickstarter campaign if you like Essi’s work. Her print is for sale right here. Read about the creation of the print on her blog here. 50% of profits (after print, packaging and shipment costs are met) go to the artist, so if you like what you see, go support her!
- Escape to Christmas Past by Good Wives and Warriors: Colouring Book Review and Artist Interview
- Amelia’s Magazine 10th Anniversary Kickstarter Campaign: That Which We Do Not Understand
- An interview with Ewelina Skowronska: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.
- London Word Festival
- Scandia by Zeena Shah: Colouring Book Review, Interview and Giveaway