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Antti Kalevi's Workshop Wisdom - Artist Series

Jul 26, 2021

"As much as you could believe that Antti Kalevi’s drawings are made from scraps of fluorescent and primary coloured paper, they’re actually all created digitally. Loose, expressive and chock-full of happy fruits, animals, humans and shapes with eyes, Antti’s work is sunshine by way of a graphic tablet. “I like to use humour in my pictures every now and then, but I also try to make beautiful images,” Antti says. “If you look my work from far away it’s often very simple, but close up is full of small details.” An Aalto graduate, Antti spent some time working in Reykjavik and dreams of taking his studio on the road. For now he’s concentrating on editorial illustration, textile design, ceramics and other commissions, and is happy in his work as long as he retains his trademark playfulness. In the future he’d like use his fun, analogue and digital skills to create large, indoor murals and design and illustrate his own set of umbrellas." - Agent Pekka.

Antti Kalevi's Workshop Wisdom

How would you describe your work?
Simple, powerful, elegant, down to earth, expressive, sometimes funny… Lately I have been drawing mostly with my fingers, and currently I’m working on a new personal project related to the technique. Besides my artistic experimentations I’m very interested in designing surfaces, patterns for things such as clothing or homeware. In the future I’d be interested in learning more about the relations between architecture and design and would love to design tiles.

How would you describe your workshop?
I work from home. I have a view from my desk to a big horse chestnut tree in our backyard which I love. Because of the tree, there’s always a really interesting play of light and shadow in the room and during summer lots of bird song drifting in the air. I also work a lot on the go when I’m traveling.

What is usual day in the workshop like for you?
This summer I abandoned all routines and schedules to make room for creativity and wellbeing. Normally I have a thought-out schedule for my workdays, but now I wanted to have a proper break. I focused on eating well, sleeping well, seeing friends and exercising. I got many insights into my work during the summer! But most importantly I draw a lot, almost on daily basis so everything starts from that.

Who has been your biggest influence?
I have been fortunate enough to have lived in different cultures, in Japan, Iceland and in Italy. So I guess it’s not so much a specific person that has influenced me but different places I have visited. Japan has a special place in my heart! 

What themes, inspirations or concepts drift into your work?
Usually things that I see in nature and in my surrounding natural landscape seep into my work somehow, like shadows and interesting shapes. I like to take a lot of photo when something catches my eye, and then I go trough the photos from time to time.

Do you have a motto?
Not really, but maybe it could be something like: ”Trust your line and don’t over-polish it”.

Do you have any rules or rituals when working?
I don’t draw if I’m in the wrong mindset. I rather go and take a walk or a nap and try again later. I try to make sure I have enough time for every project, not only to draw, but enough time to reflect on it during the process.

How would you style your artist series Hiut jeans?
I think they would work well in different situations, but today I would wear them with a natural white t-shirt and slippers.

What was the initial inspiration for this design?
My starting point was to do something beautiful and special, but also wearable in everyday life. I was trying to think of a design that I would wear myself.

Where did the color palette come from?
We had 4-5 different color ways but everyone seemed to like this one, including myself. I picked this because it’s something I would wear, not too flamboyant but still interesting.

Have you ever done a collaboration like this before?
I have designed prints for clothing companies before, for Marimekko and Samuji. But this is the first time I did anything with denim.

What were the challenges?
There weren’t many challenges after we had decided to focus on silk-screen printing. In the beginning I had many ideas that we were not able to do, because they were too difficult to produce.

What did you enjoy?
I’m really happy that I had a lot of freedom in the process and the Hiut team was very open to all my ideas, trying to make all my ideas happen!

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