Kai Vaalio is an illustrator, comic artist, and a bit of a cosmopolitan as well. He’s written and illustrated underground comic books for adults about his travels in South-East Asia and Latin America — the latter even won Mondo magazine’s Travel book of the year award back in 2014. Recently he’s ventured into the world of illustrating children’s books mainly with Arttu Unkari’s Dadman Series. Together they’ve made four books about this goofy detective and his clever little posse. The Dadman Series has received Storytel Awards and Runeberg Junior 2023 award nominations. Vaalio’s been on and off in the graphic industry since 2005 when he graduated as a graphic designer from Lahti College of Arts and Crafts. In 2018 he got his bachelor’s degree from Lahti University of Applied Sciences.
Eri Shimatsuka is a Helsinki based Japanese designer and a writer.
Her designs are inspired from Nordic nature and fragments of everyday life. She designs for different brands in Japan and Finland such as Marimekko and Lapuan Kankurit.
She has written many books about Finnish design and everyday life.
‘Kettu ja hiljaisuus’ with Reetta Niemelä (2022) is her first illustrated picture book.
Åsa Lucander is a director and designer, working in illustration and animation both in the UK as well as Scandinavia.
Originally from Finland, she moved to London in 2001 where she was introduced to animation while studying illustration. After graduating she joined the animation studio 12foot6 where she stayed until 2014.
In 2015 she joined Aardman Animations in Bristol, where she is now based.
With multi-faceted strengths in storytelling, design and animation she loves exploring various creative styles, be it in 2d, stop motion or CGI. Åsa has a passion for hand rendered drawings and explores many different textures and mediums in all areas of her work. She loves mixing humour with melancholy and thrills in bringing characters of every shape and form to life with compelling scripts and inventive visions. She nimbly blends music, authentic dialogue, film segments, hand drawn characters and dolls in innovative ways.
Åsa has directed multiple shorts, including her award-winning film Lost Property, as well as many heart-warming commercial films for clients including Blue Peter, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Project Every- one and Childline, and a VR documentary film for BBC. Most recently she directed the music video for Coldplay’s track Daddy that has won numerous awards.
Katri Kirkkopelto is an award-winning artist, illustrator, and art teacher. She has illustrated multiple popular picture books and schoolbooks, and her children’s books have also been seen on the theatre stage.
In 2009 Kirkkopelto received the Kylli Koski award, and her works have been nominated for Finlandia Junior in 2016, 2020, and 2022 (Black Moon Inn, with Riitta Niemelä). In 2021 she won the Arvid Lydecken Award together with the writer Reetta Niemelä for Black Moon Inn.Kirkkopelto’s illustrations have been exhibited in Finland and also abroad, e.g. in the biennale in Bratislava.
Valpuri Kerttula is a Finnish illustrator and designer based in Lahti, Finland. In addition to diverse domestic work, her art is also being published internationally. Valpuri is known for her quirky and humorous characters of oddball humans and animals.
Kati Vuorento is an illustrator living and working in Helsinki, Finland. “In small details there is an infinite magic. I want my illustrations to stir emotion in the audience. Emphatizing is important to me. In my illustrations I always include approachable characteristics to even the most hardened anti-hero. This is how I mold the characters into personalities with depth and dimension.”
Nadja Sarell is an illustrator living in Helsinki, Finland. She graduated with MA in Dance from Theatre Academy Helsinki. Soon after that she moved to a small town in North Wales to study children’s book illustration. She graduated from North Wales School of Art and Design with BA in Illustration for Children’s Publishing in 2004.
Since then she has worked as a freelance illustrator for children’s publishing in Finland and abroad. She loves to teach art, illustration and dance for both children and adults. She is also passionate about surface pattern design and enjoys creating charismatic, expressive book characters.
If Nadja was an animal, she would be a cat living in an old mansion with a large fireplace and a comfy sofa. Her favourite things are her family, music, dancing, black coffee and chocolate.
Mari Ahokoivu (b. 1984) is a Finnish illustrator and a comics artist. She’s been drawing professionally for over 10 years, mainly drawing graphic novels and comics for children, including Sanni & Joonas and Lola Olifante. Ahokoivu loves everything cute and scary. She lives and works in Copenhagen.
Piia Aho is a graphic designer who loves book design more than anything. She always makes an effort to find the perfect visual tone for each book – whether it is crazy wild or toned down or anything in between.
Piia’s book designs have often been awarded in The Most Beautiful Books of the Year -competition. The nature book Finnish Nature that she designed with Venla Koski won the Most Beautiful Book of 2013 award.
KAROLIINA PERTAMO is an artist who has illustrated more than 30 books. She works with a bright color palette and also uses collage in her charmingly naïvist work. She has been nominated for the Rudolf Koivu Prize and Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize, and received The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland Award.
ANNI NYKÄNEN is a comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Her comics have thrice been nominated for the prestigious Comic Finlandia Award.
TEEMU JUHANI (born 1987) equals Finnish illustrator, comic artist and graphic designer currently based in London, UK. Born and raised in a land of snow and northern lights, he grew up reading comics, holding pencil in his hand and dreaming of superhuman powers. Teemu has studied graphic design and illustration at Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Finland and Academie Minerva in the Netherlands. Currently he’s working as a freelance illustrator and designer and creating his first children’s book and graphic novel.
Jussi Karjalainen is a graphic designer, illustrator and co-founder of Napa Books. His distinctive artwork has featured widely across books, music and print media, and been exhibited at showrooms and galleries.
Saku Heinänen is an illustrator, type designer, and former professor of graphic design at Aalto University. He creates light and shadow in his illustrations with skillful use of black ink. He has written and illustrated two praised children’s novels, Zaida and the Snow Angel (Finlandia Junior nominee 2014) and Zaida and the Thunderbolts (Arvid Lydecken nominee 2015).
Laura Haapamäki is a Lapland-based illustrator. She loves to portray fictional people and places in her illustrations and does most of her work on the computer. She holds a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Lapland. Besides art, Haapamäki spends her free time playing video games and horseback riding.
Mervi Lindman (b.1971) is a much-loved illustrator whose cheerful artworks have been published in 15 different countries to date. Lindman’s illustrations have been regularly appraised by critics and public alike, and she has received several grants to support her art work.
Satu Kontinen (b. 1976) is a graphic designer and illustrator obsessed with little animals and Instagram photography. She is known for using bold colours and creating quirky creatures and worlds of cuteness that spark the imagination of kids and adults. In 2008 she was given an award for designing and illustrating one of the most beautiful book covers in Finland (Vuoden kaunein kirja) by the Finnish Book Art Committee, and in 2004 she was nominated for the Finlandia Junior Prize.
Since starting “her own thing,” the Mokomakis, in 2011, she has quickly gained recognition around the world and is currently working on a number of international illustration commissions.
Riikka Jäntti, a 2003 graduate of Helsinki’s School of Art and Design, now part of Aalto University, is a Helsinki-based illustrator and author who has created art for both nonfiction and fairy tale books for children. Her first children’s book was published in 2005. Jäntti is best known for the adorable Little Mouse series that has been sold to 13 territories, including Australia, Nepal, and China !
In her illustrations she uses pen and ink as well as watercolor and gouache. In 2009 Jäntti won the first ever Tieto-Lauri, an award for children’s and juvenile non-fiction, for her illustrations in Viidakkotanssi (Jungle Dance). The book was written by Markku Löytönen about the explorer Rafael Karsten in Ecuador.
Author photo by Veikko Somerpuro.
Virpi Penna is an award-winning illustrator and graphic artist, whose images glow with the delicate joy of colour and the enchantment of fairy tales. She has illustrated books by e.g. Ville Hytönen, Heikki Niska and Maria Vuorio.
Matti Pikkujämsä has created illustrations for nearly a dozen children’s books as well as several national magazines and newspapers in Finland. His visual language is defined by clear lines, stylized and expressive characters and bold colours. Among his accolades has been the 2012 Rudolf Koivu Prize, a biennial award given by the Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland to an outstanding children’s or YA book illustration.
Wonky Donkey (Hipinäaasi apinahiisi, Tammi 2013), which Pikkujämsä created together with author Ville Hytönen, was nominated for the prestigious 2013 Finlandia Junior Prize that honours the year’s best children’s book. Wonky Donkey was also named one of 2013′s three most beautiful Finnish children’s books by the Finnish Book Art Committee.
Pasi Pitkänen has become known for his richly detailed illustrative work on several children’s books such as the Monster Nanny duology by Tuutikki Tolonen. He has also worked at Rovio Entertainment as an illustrator, character designer and graphic designer; Angry Birds: Bad Piggies’ Egg Recipes (Rovio Books 2012), illustrated by Pitkänen, was named Best First Cookbook of the Year at 2012’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Among Pitkänen’s hobbies are quantum physics, people-watching, B-movies, insects and baking.