I live in Finland and in Finland there is a huge comics culture. I got involved through a place called the Comics Center, or rather the Sarjakuvakeskus as you would say in Finnish (http://sarjakuvakeskus.fi/) . It is a hive of people giving workshops for children and adults, with a cafe, a gallery and a place to work and meet new people. They have a huge festival once a year with guests, panels and people travelling from all over to participate. They also have a huge section called Pienlehtitaivas or Small Press Heaven where anyone who has printed comics or wants to can get a table for free and hock their wares. Everyone from webcomics to indy comics to people who draw fanart come.
One of these talented individuals from Finland is a friend of mine who I met through the Comics Center. She is a wonderful person who I greatly respect and I admire her for her perseverance in doing what she wants to do.
I now open the floor to Kukka! (Which means flower by the way.)
- Who are you and where do you live?
Hi there! My name is Kukka-Maria Aurora Kiuru, I’m a visual designer and comic maker. Currently I live in Helsinki, Finland. At the moment I’m in the process on publishing my first graphic novel (Noin satatuhatta solmua/A Hundred Thousand Knots) and working with Blue Boots comic strip and character project.
- How did you start making comics?
Since a kid I’ve always read Aku Ankka, Nakke Nakuttaja, Liisa Ihmemaassa and Rasmus Nalle comics besides countles other picture books. I also drew a lot since I was 2 or 3 and Disney, Peanuts and Warner Bros animations and characters were my inspiration. As an early teenager I found Sokal, Comes, Pratt and Loisel from my local library and something got started. From those comics I found something visually so facinating that didn’t exist anywhere else or in any other form. Also the stories were better than in Aku Ankka. If I remember right I did my first comic when I was sixteen. It’s a large sunday strip format and it’s about a dog called Laina (Loan). It was a good moment – to be able to tell a story, illustrate it and make it fit in a single piece of paper BY YOURSELF.
After that I drew comics for our anthology called 66°:25°, issues II-V, while studying art and design in University of Lapland during 2002-2006. Then there was years that I only worked and lost the connection to drawind and myself, but I started drawing again in 2012. Something opened and I realized that there was something coming out from me and that was Blue Boots (Siniset saappaat in finnish). Blue Boots came to stay. It’s a comic strip and a story about a former animal-testing beagle who survivers outside world only by wearing the boots. There’s no cursing, mocking or violence in Blue Boots. It’s a safe place and I’m so glad it came to my life.
I think it came when it came because quite soon after I needed a safe place while I was working with my autobiographical graphic novel about alopecia, being a bald girl and woman. Process of writing and drawing was difficult because I had to face things that I thought I had already left behind.
It took time to allow to call myself a comic artist but now I look back and hey; four anthologies, one self-publication, one group exhibition in Pictoplasma, another coming up next month, a bunch of characters, several short animation scripts, a blog and graphic novel coming up soon.
- What inspires you?
Animals and art supplies. Flora and Fauna. Seagulls. I love seagulls. Outdoor life. Experiencing something for the first time. And in art supplies stores I can spends hours. Playing with stuff is a great source of inspiration.
- What materials do you use?
For my graphic art mostly acrylics, experimental tools, like ice scraper and such, and different surfaces. For digital experiments 3D and illustrator/photoshop combo.
For my comics it’s always the same. For sketching Faber Castells blue Polychromos crayons, Faber Castell Perfection 7056 and 188121 erasers and copypaper. For inking Talens Indian Ink, few different nibs or Sakuras Pigma Microns and for coloring Faber Castells Pitt big brush pens. Originals are drawn to Schoellershammers Markespapier 75g/m2 or Fabrianos Bristol 250g/m2. I love good materials.
I play with different pens and find different characters with help of them. I have a nice collection of both. Some of the newest characters, a bobcat twins called Ludwig and Sara, were born by sketching UniPosca markers. Sometimes feel and trace of pens really inspires to certain kind of characters.
- What is your favourite personal project?
- What do you do when your creativity has run out?
- What are you doing now?
Preparing a exhibition piece for our Monstradamus Show in Berlin, White Concept Gallery. We have a multinational collective called We Dance Like Monsters and we met in Pictoplasma Academy in 2014. We’re 27 people in 24 countries and we love characters.
- What is your favourite beer? Because Beer.
Karhu of course. Because of simple illustrated
- What is your favourite comic?
Peanuts and Corto Maltese. My grandmothers maiden name was schultz by the way 🙂
- Any advice for people trying to make their own comic?
Take long walks by yourself. Carry your pens and notebooks with you. Eat lunch alone and pay attention to other living creatures. Write the scripts before you start to draw. Draw by hands and try out different materials. Good idea can take years but just start somewhere. Start with something small. Be happy about it.
And finally how can we look at your work?
Blue Boots blog: http://sinisetsaappaat.sarjakuvablogit.com/
Blue Boots in facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sinisetsaappaat/?ref=ts&fref=ts
My portfolio and information about the upcoming graphic novel: http://kmkiuru.tumblr.com/
(I’ll most probably make a blog about the book and write also blog posts about being bald woman.)
We Dance Like Monsters: https://www.facebook.com/wedancelikemonsters/?fref=ts