We sat down with Finnish artist Teemu Järvi, who illustrated the top sheets of the new MyNolla Strip collection. How did he end up being an artist? What does nature mean to him? And what kind of thoughts does he have about the cooperation with MyNolla? Take a look at the interview and see what Teemu had to say.
Turning a hobby into a profession
"I have a background as a designer, and while working in furniture design, I already made illustrations for a Finnish hunting and nature themed magazine on the side. I have been interested in the comprehensiveness of art and the concept built around products, such as product packaging and product images. I started to commercialize my own illustrations and build a whole product range, which allowed me to focus on making art as my main profession about ten years ago.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved being outdoors and still try to spend as much time as possible being close to the woods and water. Being in nature is a central part of who I am, and the place where I’m most relaxed. Nature is great for reducing stress and improving one’s wellbeing, and I want to convey the same feeling through my illustrations. I regularly receive feedback from customers, saying how my illustrations have helped them stay connected to nature even when it’s not possible to physically be there. Finns have a strong relationship with forests, and they are not afraid of the woods like in many other countries. On the contrary, it is a very familiar and close element to people, even in the middle of the city, as woods are never that far away."
Nature illustrations with the tools provided by nature
"My way of working is long-term and classic. My drawing is based on traditional Asian marker drawing, which uses bamboo cane as a material. I myself draw with a reed pen, where I use traditional Finnish lake reed. The reed pen makes the trace of the drawing delicate, which is perfect for the black and white nature pictures I draw.
Sometimes a new illustration is completed at once, and sometimes it takes several dozen attempts. I can work on some parts for a long time before I get to the end result I’m after. I try to draw the animals as I’m seeing them: with natural movements and a way of acting. In addition to spending my time in nature, I follow a lot of nature documentaries so that I can study the natural behavior of animals in detail. My goal is to capture that moment in nature that can be over very quickly. When you encounter a wild animal in the forest, the encounter is measured in seconds. In my animal illustrations, the animal’s gaze often plays a central role and brings out the atmosphere of the encounter to the still image. The marker drawing supports this quick moment well, because drawing with a marker needs to be quick."
Role as an entrepreneur
"During the pandemic, I needed to invest in my own online store, because previously the products were sold through interior design stores and retailers. Running and developing a company requires its share of my time, but I still feel that I can make art on my own terms.
At this stage, I have already learned what kind of images are in demand, but on the other hand, I constantly notice that it is worth boldly trying something new. The designs that might have originally started out as doodles might now be the most requested images of all. That encourages me to keep on trying new things without predetermined expectations. For me, drawing is not just work but a great pleasure, which is why commercialism should not be the main focus. For example, trying out new techniques does not necessarily lead to commercial sales, but is an important part of the whole.
I am particular about collaborations. I primarily seek long-term partnerships with brands that share the same values. Responsible production, materials and the high quality of design must match my standards. In my online store, I sell a limited selection of products so that I can focus primarily on making art. Still, I treat all products as if they were a part of my own collection and thus I am careful about licensing rights."
Collaborating with MyNolla
"I had come across MyNolla Strip before, and when MyNolla proposed cooperation, I was immediately interested. I myself know what it’s like to get frustrated with standard extension cords, and this beautifully designed product aroused appreciation in me also due to my own design background. The combination of materials is also pleasing, because combining wood with plastic increases the value of the product and immediately makes it of higher quality. As a material, wood is pleasant and easy to approach, and it is pleasant to touch. The wood material makes the whole of the extension cord fresh. The possibility to change the wooden top sheet extends the life cycle of the product and enables small things in the interior to be changed in an ecological way.
At first, I was wondering if my illustrations could naturally fit an extension cord, where the sockets cut off a large part of the design, but the pictures were fitted in beautifully. The finished products turned out really nice and I like how part of the illustration is boldly cut out in the end result. It gives the illustrations a new look and evokes a feeling of encounter that continues also outside the product. We chose three illustrations from the newer selection to be used in the collection, and each of them sets its own mood for the surrounding space.
The cooperation with MyNolla has been smooth, and I appreciate the entrepreneurs' own design expertise, which has given them the courage to develop a new kind of product. My own illustrations are like moments cut out of nature, and the extension cord’s wooden top sheet is a naturally fitting landscape for their background. Timeless nature illustrations together with modern electrical devices form a way to bring the calming power of nature into interior spaces, and into the middle of urban everyday life."