The Artist as Mystic

The Artist as Mystic

I’ve taken more time for painting the past months than before. Painting more has been a dream I’ve had over 20 years, but it has never become a steady practice. I draw and paint (mostly digitally) a lot of course, as part of illustration work. But now I’m talking about my own personal, artistic practice.

For a long time I felt like I didn’t have enough of something.. a message? time? a style? courage? Something was blocking me from really finding my own expression. Technically I have been able to draw and paint “perfectly” since I was about 19 years old. The thing that was lacking was something else.

Of course making money is an issue, since living as a visual artist in Finland is not very easy. Most artists earn money other ways than creating art. That’s just the reality.

But I can feel that some of the blockage is gone now. I feel a completely new kind of confidence in what I’m doing. I have also changed my life quite drastically the past 6-12 months, and perhaps this has something to do with it. Part of the changes have to do with developing better practices when it comes to how I take care of my body and mind. I’ve always felt a pull towards the mysticism that can be found in artistic expression, but now I am ready to surrender to it completely – for the sake of fulfilling my purpose in life, which is to connect to others through art.

So I have written a new artist statement, concerning my personal artistic work:

I choose the content of my paintings intuitively. The flowers, plants, bodies, hair and so on are all connected to events and emotions in my personal life. Images come to me in dreams and meditation and often have symbolic meaning to me. Every painting contains some of my lived experience. I have surrendered to the mysticism of this process, even though I’m otherwise a skeptic and proponent of scientific thinking. However, the purpose of art and science is the same: to understand the true nature of reality. I find much greater freedom to pursue truth in art, even though it is counterintuitive to do it through mysticism. And even though my paintings might seem just decoratively pretty, my aim is to create a kind of meditation. The artworks are meditations. The state I am in when I paint is meditative, and I hope that anyone who lays their eyes on the paintings will feel an urge to become still, observe and listen to themselves. I hope the paintings can connect us in some way, and bring a sense of oneness with the world.


Those who do not move, do not notice their chains

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains

That is a quote by Rosa Luxemburg, and since I saw it last year I have been thinking it is very descriptive of my attitude towards life. I move on and I need to be free. I also keep creating new things.

It’s time for a blog update, enjoy because they don’t come very often, haha!

Last Spring I finished work on the Literature game I was working on with a writer and a programmer, and a larger team of experts and support organizations. The game itself will be launched next month, so I will write more about it later. I have been using this experience of co-creating a serious game for my Master’s thesis in Service Design, that I hope to complete this Autumn. The thesis writing got delayed because I simply had too much work and big changes in my personal life in the Spring to focus on it. But now it is moving onward.

A visualization of the thesis process

I also have a new studio and work space from July onwards. It feels amazing to have a large room all to myself.. white walls to fill with ideas and works in progress. But the funny thing is that I currently mostly work digitally, so I still sit cooped up in one corner of the room with my laptop. I hope I can take time to paint more at some point and really use the space that I have now.

My current large project is illustrating a history book. So far the work and collaboration with the writer, AD and editor has been amazing and so much fun. But also hard work. The past week I have put in hours on creating an old 17th century map. It really brought out my perfectionist streak when it comes to visual design…

Searching for the right style for the history book – some fictional parts of the text bring out nature and animals…


Meanwhile I am also doing the layout of another easy to read adaptation of the Moomin books, and drawing simple illustrations for a web based language learning material.

I also really enjoy drawing in this simple and colorful style 🙂

And as always some exciting and very secret projects are bubbling under and moving along in their own pace in my mind and together with some awesome people (usually it’s writers). What I have noticed over the years is that what I really love about illustration is that it is collaborative. I get inspired by others, by meeting new people, and forming new work partnerships. They shape me and push me into new directions, and I hope they feel the same excitement I do when we work towards creating something new together.

So. Moving forward with renewed energy and passion for my work.

Concept Illustrations – My Little Light

Concept Illustrations – My Little Light

Last summer I worked on illustrations for one of my personal projects – an art game/visual novel-kind of thing. It has been on a break the whole of autumn, but I took some time now to finish up 10 of the images. The project is still very open and developing organically. I’m not sure what the end result is going to be, but I want the story to be a branching narrative, where the reader can choose between different paths. But I think I at least have the visual style ready. For now, the project will take a rest again, and I will see when I have more time to develop it further (since I have some very exciting other projects this Spring to focus on). The next task would be to finish the script completely. And I noticed that while making the illustrations, I felt a need to change the story too. So the two elements of text and visuals are going to develop together.

Letters and eyes

Letters and eyes


I actually feel like I have no more words. But I keep repeating that I feel angry, disappointed, angry, disappointed. I’m really longing for the day that I can stop feeling like this, when there is some relief. I wonder what that feels like, to be able to trust that I live in a country where people are treated equally and with compassion. I hope that day comes.

These are 60 drawings of eyes – they all see what is going on, and they all belong to very concerned and anguished people. The Finnish Government is no longer respecting human rights when it comes to its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and I am furious.

The letter campaign continues, and a documentary by YLE has now been made about the letters. It becomes painfully obvious that we who write and protest are not being taken seriously by the very people we are addressing.

This is also very disturbing.

How is it possible to be proud of a country like this? How can I change this? How can we change this? Because this is not how we want it to be, right? Next year this country I was born in (some say it is like winning the lottery) will be 100 years old. I have never been a very nationalistic person, and I surely cannot be now. But I do feel a sense of responsibility for this place I live in, and the people who happen to be here. Now we are excluding some human beings who are asking for our help. If this is the help that my country has to give, I cannot be proud, I feel shame.

I have been busy making graphics for related campaigns (and working) for a month now. But if you send me more eyes, I will draw them (e-mail: jennykwiik [at]

I see you – looking for participants


I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to express my views on the current situation in Finland concerning how asylum seekers are treated. The past three months I have become friends with people who are experiencing this process, and what I have heard and seen through their eyes, is making me even more worried about the state of human rights in my country.

I am also very much in doubt that the way asylum seekers are treated here is constructive, and good for the future of this country. I think we are both wasting huge amounts of human and economical resources, and loosing our humanity and status as civilized people. I cannot let cynicism and racism flourish without trying to fight it.

Thousands of mostly young people are now waiting to know if they will be allowed to start building a future for themselves, or if they will be sent back to danger and quite possibly death. Most of them now know they will probably get a negative decision, and many are trying to find work or other means to get a permit to stay here. But finding work is also highly restricted to them and difficult. The resources that are now spent on keeping them inactive and waiting, could instead be spent on helping them integrate well into our society.

In the end of July Sunniva Drake published an Iraqi man’s negative asylum decision online, and this text has since been widely discussed in media. Shortly after this decision was published two writers, Merete Mazzarella and Monika Fagerholm, decided to write letters to the government and Juha Sipilä (article in Swedish). This has inspired many more to join in and write letters. And it also inspired me very much, but I decided to send a drawing instead.

But one drawing is not enough, it has to be more. And what should I draw? I love to draw eyes. Eyes are highly symbolic: seeing is believing, seeing is understanding, seeing is witnessing, seeing someone’s eyes makes it hard to be indifferent, the eyes are the mirror of the soul, or a window to our minds… The meanings are many.


The first drawing on Instagram (@kolofont2). I will also share the drawings online.

The drawn eyes above are my own. And my message is clear: I see you, I see what you are doing, I will not close my eyes to it.

But now I need more eyes. So I am asking you to help me and participate. Send me a photograph of your eyes, and I will draw them. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you look like. Depending on how many photos I receive and how fast, I will decide an end date, and then send all the drawings at the same time to the government and Juha Sipilä.

You can send the photo to jennykwiik [at] OR send me a Facebook message here. Also tell me if you want me to include your (first or full) name on the drawing or not.

I also hope other artists will join in and send drawings or artwork. I hope this will spread even more, because we must not be quiet. People are suffering, right here right now.

Here is the address, for those who want to write or send drawings:

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
PO Box 23
FI-00023 Government

Address in Swedish:

Statsminister Juha Sipilä
Statsrådets kansli
PB 23
00023 Statsrådet


Update 14.08.2016:

I have received many photos, thank you very much to all! I have 15 drawings finished in 6 days, and I hope to keep up this pace the following weeks. But more eye photos are needed! My first goal is 100 drawings.

Eye drawings on my Instagram @kolofont2


Summer of serious games


It is time for a summer update, before I take a small Midsummer break from work (and I mean small, just a few days; I don’t have time or need for a longer vacation this year – my passion for my work and business burning a hole in my belly).

From March to the beginning of June I worked mostly with a group of special education children in an afternoon club. This was a new experience for me, and I learned very much about myself and about what children like this need. And of course, getting to know these wonderful kids was a huge privilege. I will miss them. A lot of the observations I made will be very useful when I continue working with serious games.

So, serious games, that is my focus from June and onwards. I have started working on a Literature game with a team of teachers and educators. I also got some experience in recruiting, as I was able to find and lure in the perfect candidate for the technical implementation of the game. The plan is to go with pixel art on this one, and I am looking forwards to creating the graphics and visual feel of this fun project. It will continue on in the Autumn, and the goal is to present a demo in January.

I am also focusing on my own art game, that I received a grant for in March. The image in this post is one of the first background images for this game. The game starts with a stormy ocean… a very symbolic image for me personally. It also represents my emotional life this year. This is something I aim to truly live up to: my art and work living in symbiosis with experiences and emotions in my private life and in the way I experience world events. The working title for the art game is “My Little Light”, and it is about survival on a symbolic level. But the background for the story lies in the harsh reality of the political situation in Europe today – the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding, and that is so disastrously and shamefully dealt with in my part of the world. I will present the project more in depth in August, when I plan to have a demo ready. But I am hoping I will be able to publish the game in many languages, when it is time – English, Swedish, Finnish and Arabic. I am quite nervous about developing this game, because of the political undertones, but I will just have to trust myself and go ahead and do the best I can.

Speaking of a demo: I will be developing the game myself in html/css/javascript, while I attend Boost Turku’s Summer of Programming. I was very happy to be accepted to the study program that is being run by volunteers (I salute you, I am so amazed at people who will give their free time to teach others), and I have already been working my way through the CodeSchool assignments for three weeks. I can really recommend CodeSchool, it is very rewarding to go through the exercises, and you learn new things with ease. So 23rd August we have a demo day, and I will be presenting my game project there. I feel extremely motivated at the moment, and happy to finally learn more about programming. It is definitely something that I will want to develop further in the future in connection to my focus on serious games.

I am also writing on my Master’s thesis in Leadership and Service Design, now with a focus on the three serious game projects I am working on, touching on the areas of art, learning and health. My hope is also to say something about the future of the industry, and of course, securing a place in the industry for myself.

I am also still doing graphic design for books, one project is very soon finished. I am now doing the last rounds of corrections in the script. Hopefully I will get more book design projects in the future also, as it is very rewarding work.

As always: If you have some interesting collaboration ideas for me, or freelance gigs, please get in touch! For example by sending me an e-mail: jennykwiik [at]

Currently I am also interested in hearing about social entrepreneurship projects and specifically things that have to do with refugees, asylum seekers or climate and green values…

Sanalanka – best educational application!

Yesterday the Sanalanka Speech Application team took part in the Turku ICT ShowRoom, and we got an honorary prize for best educational application! See more information on our Facebook page.

This was amazing news, and I’m very happy to be part of this team. Hopefully the prize will mean that the application will get funding and that we can keep developing it – because it is an amazing idea, and we have an amazing team making it!

Team receiving the prize
Natasha, Olli and I at our stand.
Lots of opportunities to try out the demo! Cute stickers!