Magical Worlds with Anne Vasko

Anne Vasko is an illustrator and designer from Northern Finland. Mr. Wolf caught up with Anne to gain a little insight into the magical worlds she creates in her collages, prints, and children's books.

Are you able to share a little about your background as an artist? What was your introduction to art and design?
I grew up in a lively and big family, in Kalajoki, which is in Northern Finland. My parents were always very positive and encouraging for me to find my own voice or passion. In my case this was art.
I have also always been interested in people who are very skilled at crafting things from wood, wool or other natural materials. This was a great source of inspiration to me during my childhood; to see these modest handicrafts, and to see people create really wonderful things using their hands.
As a girl, I always had a small notebook in my hand and I loved to draw and imagine things from a young age. Drawing has always felt very comfortable to me. It’s kind of one of my languages; it’s one of my tools for communication.
Little by little I have found my own voice in order to make art, design and illustration.

What drew you to the medium of illustration? What is it about illustration that you enjoy?
After attending a number of art schools, I applied to study Textile Art & Design at Aalto University. I was interested in different ways of working with fabric. I liked working with fabric because, to me, it felt ‘homely’.
While I was at Aalto I discovered print design and I freaked out from all the colours, materials and possibilities, especially when designing prints for kids. I realized that there was an opportunity to combine my print design work with my other visual work in making books. And so I showed my work to a Finnish publishing house and I was asked to make my own children’s book. It was really a flying start to the business!
I don’t know exactly what are the elements that make me love illustration so much. I suppose it’s kind of between art and design, and the interfaces are always interesting. It’s free, but you still have some boundaries. And a book itself is a very beautiful object. I enjoy the fact that I can make unique art, but I can still duplicate it for many people.

Finland has a very rich history of art and design. Do you believe your own style has been influenced by this history?
Of course! Even though sometimes I denied it.
I think all Finnish designers at some point try to take some distance from the big names in order to find their own style, but deep within us is the same heart beat. It’s all about the nature, and four seasons, and all these other Nordic clichés, but it’s true and it’s wonderful!

What inspires you to create art?
My own family is really my centre and source of inspiration. I have to say that my husband, Jaakko Vasko, is one of the best illustrators and most inspiring artists I have ever met! So we get a lot of opportunities to brainstorm together at home.
Nature, new people, travelling, and life in general – all of these things are inspiring to me. Sometimes I can fall in love with a colour, or a character in my head, or I can see a wonderful art exhibition or movie that will have some impact on how I create my art.
Also a deadline is a very inspiring thing!

How do you create one of your pieces?
Usually I have some ‘problem’ that I want to solve, or maybe a word, story or feeling that inspires me. Firstly I do a lot of drawing to find the character I am reaching for, and then I’ll try different techniques to find the right one for the work.
One of my techniques is collage. I love to use different papers and materials, and to find new ways of using them. Even though I use collage, I always start my illustration by pen. Pen is always first between my thoughts and paper.
I work forward bit by bit until I finish the work. By doing collage I am able to keep the work open for quite a long time before I glue everything together.

Finally, how would you describe your style?
Well, these aren’t my words, but taken from something said before, ‘Her art is defined by its intensive colours and the feeling of intimacy – closeness to the recipient’.





Anne is currently working on a group exhibition, scheduled for January 2014, as well as a sustainability project entitled, ‘Toy Revolution’. For more of Anne’s work, visit:

Words: Annie Ferguson