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Weekly Bubbling: Lauri Ahtinen

Bubbling is a series of articles presenting up-and-coming talents in the design world. In the fourth part of the series, we meet comics artist Lauri Ahtinen, who is working on a new graphic novel about immigration in Finland.

Hello, Lauri, how are you?

Summer-like. I’m going to stay up all night and enjoy beautiful things.

How is Lauri’s pen line?

Black, thin and uneven.

You are dressed in black from head to toe. What do colours mean to you?

My relationship to colour is dichotomous. I usually only dress and draw my cartoons in black. My paintings, however, are pronouncedly colourful. I don’t know why. Perhaps, when I paint, something hidden inside me erupts in colours.

Which of your works is the most important to you?

Probably always the newest. At the moment, it is a children’s book called East Borneo to be published in August that I’ve created together with illustrator Anna Sofia Vuorinen. It is a picture book based on the tradition of nonsense, about a trip to daycare that little by little turns into an amazing adventure.

Of course “Mold Journal” (Homepäiväkirja) that was nominated for the Finlandia award has opened some professional doors for me. It was my most intimate work to which I gave my all.

Where can we see your hand print?

I am currently working on a new graphic novel about immigration in Finland.

I feel that I have to partipicate in the most vital moral debat of our time. The story takes place in Northern Finland and is partly based on the stories of immigrants. I have teached for seven years people who have moved to Finland. The novel will be published in the end of 2017.

I am also working on a print for kids’ clothing, inspired by sign language. As a father, it is both lovely and weird to dress my kids in a print that I’ve designed myself.

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What is the most important thing in your life right now?

My four kids. They are the most important thing that has ever happened to me. Borign, but this is the only possible answer.

Do roots matter?

Roots mean home to me. I am from Raahe, and childhood towns always have a special emotional landscape. Oulu, or Tuira more specifically, is now my physical domicile. I love my district, and in the summer, we’re setting up the first block party in the city: Titta på Tuiran.

Do you have a style guru or an artistic idol?

My idols include afro-punk rocker Jean Michel Basquiat and British nihilist David Shrigley. I like Basquiat’s wild creative force. And Shrigley symbolises West European dark and dry humour.

Who do you follow on Instagram?

I follow 335 profiles that at best widen my perspective. Joan Cornella is one of them. I like her weird animated short films. I also get good vibes from National Geographic’s feed.

How and where do you work?

I cannot afford to engross myself in work for a whole day, so I work fast. I want to have a life outside art because that is where everything starts. After that, making the idea real is just work. It is always a relief to let go of a completed work of art.

Our studio is at Art Gallery Coma (Taidegalleria Kooma). Fashion designer and “coma man” Antti Putkonen breathes on the other side of a partition wall. Coma man’s presence creates safety when I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts. It is people that bring flavour to my studio.

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Helsinki Design Week’s theme this year is Better. What ideas does it bring to you?

In a better world people think before they do, love each other more, and stop hoarding and destroying the globe.

Creatively, I wish things – whether material or immaterial – would be done so well that we could return to them time after time. Right now I get my kicks from language and the beauty of mathematics. I love chairs made of wood, cotton, and timeless ceramics.

What do you dream about as an artist?

My biggest dream is to one day realize my own vision, to create a gallery or an exhibition room in a major international art museum. Privately my biggest dream is for my children to have a meaningful childhood and splurges of love. I am grateful for my first longer-term grant that I just received. I will use it to buy time for myself.


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Helsinki Design Weekly is an online design publication presenting timely phenomena in the field of design and raises discussion about the future of the industry bolstered by top writers on the front lines.