1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hi there! My name is Annika Hiltunen and I am an illustrator from Finland represented by Napa Agency (Finland) and Peppercookies Agency (UK).
I was born quite some time ago in a little village called Rantasalmi. It’s very likely that you have never heard about that place – neither has many of us Finns. But it’s there, chilling peacefully somewhere in the middle of Finland. Now I live in a much bigger city called Joensuu with my husband, our two little kids and exotic short hair cats (Persians with short hair). But you have probably never heard about Joensuu either?
Because in Finland everything is quite small. I have always felt how tiny I am on this planet. That’s why I have also always paid attention to the small details. The deep colors of flowers. Two ants walking on a lazy summer night, totally in love. A lady bird sitting in a tree nagging to her husband “this worm is not fresh, bring me another”. Tiny snowflakes falling from the sky on an insanely cold winter day, combining their forces and turning everything so white and magical. We all have purpose, no matter how small we are. In my illustrations the small details are the most important part.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
Bold. Rich. Delicious. Cute. Unique. It’s all about colors, details and good drawing.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
For a long time it was all about drawing with my hands, I hated computers. Back then I used soft pastels, colored pencils, water colors, acrylics… So, basically everything. But from time to time I tried the computer, just a little bit. Then some more. Today I am totally in love with my computer and I do most of my illustrations digitally.
4. What is your artistic process like?
I have all these ideas in my head. Some (…most) of them are pretty useless but some are worth all the hard work. After I get an idea, I start to see shapes, colors etc. and when all the pieces are in a right place, I grab a pen or open my computer and start to work.
Sometimes the result seems nothing like the gorgeous idea in my head. Then I take a moment and start all over. Because one thing I have learned: illustrating is constant practising and learning.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Not sure. Everyone asks about my inspirations but I don’t have certain answer to that. Ideas just pop up in my head. When I watch my kids playing. When I sit in a car. When I drink tea (heck, sparkling wine!) in our beautiful veranda. When I wash my teeth. Or brush my cats.
But I think as an illustrator I want to give some credit to my talented fellow colleagues. So thrilling and inspiring to see someone making incredibly gorgeous artworks. It is always a bad, bad idea to imitate but never a bad idea to learn from the best and feel happy about their success.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art is how I view the world. I see stories, I see beauty everywhere. Obviously our world really is not all that happily bubbly place but I think my mission is to draw this planet a bit more happier with one illustration at a time.
7. Where did you study?
I was born and raised surrounded by beautiful artworks because my father is an artist too. I learned a lot by watching. Later I studied and worked as a graphic designer but I have always aimed to be an illustrator as I am today.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
I am so happy at the moment. I have my health, my love ones, my home, my computer. In five years I want to be exactly where I am today.
…But then I hope to be a worldwide known illustrator doing amazingly gorgeous pattern designs for some pretty cool fashion houses, home decor collections, stationery products etc. Oh yes.
9. What about in ten?
I’ll just keep doing all the cool stuff and enjoying my life with my lovely family. But maybe I have even more cats. I adore cats.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want to make people feel. No sadness though, I prefer happy thoughts.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I am impossible when it comes to food. I could eat all day all kind of incredibly delicious meals from all over the world. Well, I could but I shouldn’t: darn pants, the more I eat the tighter they gets. Dunno why… Maybe my favourite at the moment is Indian food – which I am pretty good to cook myself as well!
12. Favourite book?
Oh boy… I buy a lot of books. And I am going to read all of them. Some day. But right now my favourite book is probably a crossword puzzle magazine since I have so little time to read.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Silence. Having two little kids is quite noisy sometimes so when I am working, I am so enjoying the silence.
14. What are your hobbies?
Oh, surprise surprise: illustrating! Also, wandering in our garden, scanning for all the things we should do there – and then forgetting them and taking a nap under an apple tree. Same goes inside the house. We live in an old, lovely wooden house. There is way too much to do so sometimes it is best to skip the scanning part and focus on day dreaming.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I would have walked a very, very unsuccessful path as a cat breeder. You see, it’s not vice to become one if you want to keep all the furry little fellows yourself. Or maybe I would have become a gardener. But I keep killing all my plants. I don’t get why?! So basically I really need to focus on my art.