Hanna Ruusulampi is a mother of two, a wife and on top of that, an exceptionally talented artist. We’ve been lucky at Twilling Tweeds to have collaborated with Hanna over a number of years. You can see a lot of her work in our products in the shop, and of course, keep an eye out for more of illustration in future collections!
So Hanna, let’s start at the beginning. How did you end up doing what you do?
I never wanted to become a full time fine artist but drawing has always been very important to me.
I have degree in a graphic design and that's my so called “real profession”. Graphic designers usually have more job offers than visual artists. So it was a rational choice.
For a few years I worked as an Art Director in a middle sized digital agency until I realized that the digital work was too limited. I wanted more freedom!
Now I am mostly working on illustrations at my own company. In my current job I can work on variety of different types of design, ranging from graphic design to illustrations and textile patterns.
My favourite clients come via internet around the world. Sometimes I wonder how they find me.
In Finland there aren’t any schools where one can learn illustrating alone, so Finnish illustrators are usually also graphic designers or visual artists.
How would you best describe your style of illustration?
I create illustrations for commercial customers use and also for my own pleasure. My works are usually non-realistic and quite graphical. Black ink pen is my favourite tool. Usually my works are also quite rich in detail. But as always, in commercial work the style really depends on the customers’ needs.
What are your main inspirations for your work?
I pick up ideas from many places in general. But of course I follow a lot what other illustrators have done. Internet makes it quite easy nowadays.
What designers or makers to you admire?
I get excited whenever I find something new or unique. I respect people who have created something original. It doesn't have to be art or even anything visual.
Have you visited Scotland or Pakistan? What do you think about these countries?
I haven't ever been in Scotland or Pakistan.
I think that, in Scotland, life is quite similar to Finland. My impression of Scotland is that it is a very beautiful place: the sea, castles, sheep and highlands. But perhaps there is quite rainy and windy also.
In general, the Finnish news mentions Pakistan only when there has been some terrible natural disaster, or an act of terrorism. I’m sure Pakistan has a lot of things to offer, it has a rich culture which is not well known here. I have had the pleasure to discover Pakistani handicraft traditions through my work with Adil Iqbal at Twilling Tweeds, and also with Polly & Me and Popinjay. When I have shown the handmade embroideries here in Finland, people have been very impressed by skilled work of the artisan woman. It has been amazing to work with these great women.
Tell me a little about your childhood. Were you always involved in art?
When I was a child my parents often took me to art exhibitions. My grandmother, who lived next door to me, was a professional artist. She lived almost 100 years and painted and drew every day. I used to go to her house for drawing, and she encouraged me very much.
What makes your home?
My family. My husband and our two children. I like to spend time with my family at home.
Can you recommend any good books?
An example of a good, inspiring book, about illustrations is: An Illustrated Life by Charlie Harper
What kind of conditions do you work in? Do you listen to any music?
I don’t listen to music while working. Usually I like to work at home and in quiet. At night when my children are sleeping is also a good working time.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
At the moment I am studying for a degree in game graphics and that takes a lot of my time. I'm learning 3D graphics and character design. It is quite challenging, because I haven't worked with 3D before.
In addition I’m also working on a label design for an almond milk bottle and an illustration for something I would call 'a fish merchants gift card'. There is also some graphic design work for an annual report.
…however, my family and I are about to go on a holiday, so all I can think of is going snowboarding with the family next week!
What makes you laugh?
I am already laughing thinking about how much I am going to stumble at the snowboarding slopes. Hopefully the snow is soft and powdery.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?
You have to draw and explore, every day. Initially, you can look for inspiration from other illustrators work, but it is important to find your own personal style, which stands out from the crowd. It comes naturally with time if you just keep on working. Share what you have done. All honest feedback is good for you, even the negative things.
Thank you very much Hanna, please share the links to all your social media networks, including your website.