I love seeing my artworks applied to things.

Annu Kilpeläinen

ART  .  November 26th, 2019

Who are you?

Annu Kilpeläinen, Finnish born illustrator/artist living in London.

What’s your favorite color? Your favorite car?

I have quite a specific color palette, with bright blues, oranges, yellows and pinks. But anything goes and my favorite color changes like the 90s mood rings. My number one car would be a sky blue 1989 volvo 240 that my dad used to have, so pretty and boxy. I have tried drawing new sports cars but theres something about the very angular early 90s cars thats just right – BMW, convertible Saab or Volvo.

How & when did you become an illustrator?

As a kid I made my own zines, painted porcelain vases with old ladies and made ‘sculptures’ in the forest. I graduated from UAL LCC from Graphic and Media Design in 2010 and then had odd jobs making hand iced biscuits and fabric patterns and then finally went freelance in 2014, so it is hard to pinpoint the exact moment.

How did you get into your current visual style?

At uni I did lots of very detailed black and white drawings, then crazy watercolor mixes with outlines. I was working at a biscuit factory icing biscuits with bright colors, that color blocking definitely influenced my style without me realising it at the time. Few years after graduating I was doing more color blocked drawings without outlines so guess thats when it started evolving to what it is now. Though it is still changing and evolving and hopefully will continue to do so.

What’s your favorite occupation?

A scientist or an astronaut. Also marine biologist is a very intriguing occupation. Space and sea with their vast unexplored areas must have so many surprises we have no clue of. Just watching the Blue Planets Deep Sea episode blew my mind.

You live in London now, how does this city inspire you?

I have been here over 13 years now – where did the time go? Though I did live in Australia for a year in between and I am actually going back there for few months in January. I have been trying to move somewhere else for few years but theres a certain pull in London that really takes you in – theres so much happening all the time but it also has little pockets within that are so cosy and you can just sit in the pub with your mates and bump into other mates and all of a sudden have a big gathering and it feels like a village not a giant city. It is also such a contrast to the Finnish countryside where I am from so it’s nice to have these 2 side by side.

Where do you like to work and how?

I have the best studio crew, I share my studio with 4 amazing women -Sara Andreasson, Hattie Steward, Lynnie Z and Alice Hartley, so thats my favourite place to work. I go out to different libraries (National Art Library, Barbican etc) every now and then to do research. As researching online can get a little repetitive and the algorithms do feed us all the same things.

My sketches are super loose (unless I am presenting them to a client), as long as there is some kind of a form or color idea to remind me of what is in my head thats enough. Then I start sketching it big scale. I take lots of pictures of my hands/feet/body or edit images from online to draw from. Sketch outlines and then erase and sketch again till I am happy with the composition. I usually decide on couple of colors first, color them in and then quickly decide on the rest and mark them on to the paper quickly so I cant go back and change anymore.

What do you want to generate for the viewer?

It is good to leave the descriptions short as everyone will view the works differently according to their personal history. Some of my works are diary like notes from feelings/things happening in my life at the moment and others imaginary trips to 70s toilets or me thinking of what a pencil armour bra would look like.

What did you want to do before, when you were just a little Annu?

Oh I wanted to work in a circus as a make up artist, in my head it would have been great – being surrounded by fun people and travel but not be in limelight. I guess being an artist has provided me that.

What would be your dream project?

Designing an airplane – the wrappings outside, the interior, food, music, tickets, what the pilots wear – all of it. I love seeing my artworks applied to things so this year has been great in terms of that. I did some beach towels with Kiblind Atelier and have just finished of few other collaborations that are coming out later this year.

What do you like to listen to when you’re working? 

If its me on my own in the studio I often listen to Finnish podcasts or search for a documentary to play in the background – then I can have mini breaks for my eyes and watch a bit and then just draw and listen. I just finished listening to the Jonathan Van Ness Over The Top audiobook -highly recommend.

If it is all of us in the studio we have few playlists on heavy rotation, right now its a good old mix of hiphop hits – you know – Feel So Good, Big Pimpin’, If I Ruled The World, Break Ya Neck hahaha strong set.

What’s next for you?

This year I have been chatting with friends and strangers about collaborating and that has been super interesting – at the moment theres 4 collaborations happening on the side of my commercial work and personal projects so lots of fun things coming up. It always takes a bit longer with these, as projects with deadlines tend to jump in between. But it is interesting to see how other people work and gather ideas and bounce things back and forth – get a new perspective to your own work and to the possibilities out there.

What are you going to do just after having answered to this final question?

I just made a human sized fabric flower and filled it with styrofoam chips and it ended up looking really lumpy so I will empty that now and get some pillow filling to put inside instead. Heheh – regular Wednesday at the studio.

Annu Kilpeläinen is a Finnish illustrator living in London.
You can find her work on her website, and Instagram.

Photos by Mel Lou