Emmi-Riikka Vartiainen’s process for creating her beautifully touching illustrations and animations is as much concerned with nurturing a clear headspace as it is with preparing a creative physical space.
The bright and creamy palettes, and well-rounded and playful characters that feature in her work have formed as a result of a thought-out artistic path.
That journey has been aided by a conscious effort to grow and evolve her personal style, and a practised work process, whether it involves catching some fresh air or surrounding herself with inspiration.
“I’m Emmi-Riikka Vartiainen and I’m an illustrator from Finland. I worked in graphic design and art direction as my day job until a year ago when I became a full-time illustrator. I’m very happy to be able to pursue illustration fully as a career now.”
“I mainly work from home in font of a (too small!) desk. We’re in the process of moving, so next I want a good proper sized workspace.”
“My current workspace has been more of a temporary arrangement, so I kept it plain and with only necessities. But a personal touch is important for a nice work environment, so I’m really looking forward to having a new space.”
“My partner also works from home, so it doesn’t get too lonely during the day. He is a talented VJ artist who also does web design and animation and we often collaborate on projects. It’s very practical to be able to combine many skills together.”
“My work process starts with just thinking about the drawing project for a while and trying to have it clear in my mind. If possible, I like to take a long walk just for coming up with ideas before starting anything concrete. Then I do numerous quick pencil sketches on paper. Once happy with the sketch, I scan it into Illustrator.”
“I use Illustrator for the bulk of my work. I start building the shapes, trying out color palettes and bringing everything together. I like Illustrator because I can quickly change up the composition, sizes and shapes and move everything around freely.
“I used to do everything in Photoshop before but, in recent years, I’ve really fallen in love with the efficiency and flexibility of Illustrator.”
“After being done with the work in Illustrator, I move the work to Photoshop for adding textures and final adjustments if it feels necessary.”
“For drawing, I use either my Wacom tablet or my Surface Pro computer, where I can draw directly on the screen.”
“For sketching I use plain pencils or any fineliners I have at hand. Sometimes I like using Posca markers. At times, I even do all of the sketching on computer, but that’s only if I have a very clear idea of the image in my mind.”
“I want to constantly improve. I’m in a competition with myself. I look at my old works and think: ‘What can I do better next time?’ But creating work you enjoy with a relaxed attitude is important too.”
“In the end, I always want my work to have a light-hearted and happy vibe.”
All images © Emmi-Riikka