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.

Summer of serious games

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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. 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] gmail.com

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!

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

February update

Hi!

I’ve been a busy little bee, the last couple of months. Juggling a staggering amount of projects and searching for new ones at the same time, is time consuming and not very easy at all. But things are looking up, and the future looks bright!

On the studies side, I’ve completed 15 ETCS in Service Design courses last autumn, and now I’m in the middle of a course called Marketing Skills. I’m mostly focusing on developing my company brand in the course project. Very fun and interesting work! Later in the Spring I will attend a class on Future Research – and area that has interested me for a long time. I’ve started writing my Master’s thesis for my degree programme, and my working topic is “Drawing the Future of Illustration”. In the thesis I will focus on my own artist brand, where I want to develop it, and how I see the future of my business.

And then work work work…

My work illustrating an easy to read adaption of the prize winning fantasy novel Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff has been very fun and challenging. I am also doing the graphic design, basically the whole visual layout of the book. I would say I am a bit over halfway done with it now, and the work is due to be finished for printing in June. It will be published by Lärum Förlag in August 2016.

The Speech Therapy Application demo that I’m doing script and graphics for, is soon finished – it is final crunch time at the moment. It will be showcased in the ICT-showroom in March. This work has been an absolute joy, especially the collaboration with the wonderful team! The app and game has raised a lot of interest, which is expected: the idea to make fun games for kids to play, while doing speech therapy is brilliant. There will also be development of technical innovations in the app. I’m very happy to be part of the project, and am hoping to be able to keep developing the app with our awesome team!

And Underworld Kitchen is also under active development again. I’m doing ten more characters, and once again I get to tinker with pixels, and I LOVE IT! I’ll also be doing some environment concepts for the game.

I’ve been teaching comic book drawing on Thursday evenings, and I’m really enjoying coming up with new exercises and experimenting on the students… I’ve been teaching academic subjects for many years, but now I really think I’ve found what I really should be doing when it comes to education. Teaching a more practical subject, like drawing and comics, is just so much fun! And I feel I can really develop as a leader, facilitator and interaction designer at the same time.

Exciting times. The light is returning in the North and life goes on.

Big News: Jenny Wiik Illustration

As the headline says: I am now officially running a company called Jenny Wiik Illustration. Here’s the logo, this version in green and gold. The logo will change color depending on where I display it, but the signature is always the same, sometimes without “Illustration” and with the year the print or artwork is made for example.

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I’ve worked without a company for a long time now, but to be able to sell products (and not just take commissions) I needed to found one. It does feel like a big milestone for me, as I’ve always been afraid of the risks of having a company of my own. I don’t enjoy paperwork, so I will outsource as much as possible. I will also sometimes be employed, I’m still not comfortable in being a freelancer all the time (very hard when you have three kids and a house loan), and will also be looking for interesting jobs that hopefully have to do with games or digital media, education and communication.

So, welcome to my new baby: Jenny Wiik Illustration!

Sanalanka – Speech Therapy Tool

As of October I’m doing story writing and graphics for an application project called Sanalanka (“Word Thread” in Finnish).

The goal is to create an interactive book for tablets. The app will have researched speech therapy methods baked into a fun and engaging story with minigames that develop childrens’ language and speech. It will first be made for Finnish speaking children aged 0-3 and 4-6 (two levels). There are four programmers, three speech therapists, three graphic artists involved, and the project is also a Turku University IT student project (Capstone). The prototype is due in March 2016, and the app will then be developed for the open market.

The game studio that will publish the app is called Red Nettle Studio, and I will also do other collaborations with them. Here you can read more about the app. And soon we will go public with our Facebook page. I’m very excited to be part of this project!

New Studio – New Beginning – New Life

It’s with great joy but also trepidation that I can write that I have a studio! I am now a free artist, a freelance illustrator and designer. Full time. I hope I can make it last longer that this Fall. I hope this is the beginning of the rest of my life, so to speak.

I’ve completely dropped my Academic career now, I haven’t been working at the university since December 2013. But it has taken me some time to say good bye to that identity, that part of myself that I have tried to cultivate since 2004. I haven’t completely given up working with science and research though, but it will not be within the field of Art History. And my focus is now completely on my artistic career.

However, I’m still that person who floats around between categories: illustrator, designer, artist, literary writer, game designer, game artist… And on Friday I start studying for a second Master’s degree called Leadership and Service Design. My personal goal is to be a leader within the art and design community with a foot deeply planted in games, digital technology and web development.

I am a storyteller. I am a visualist. I want to make people feel strongly and think clearly when they experience and interact with my art.

My next personal project is fairy tale illustration, for a book with easy to read re-tellings of fairy tales. I’ll be starting that tomorrow! I’ll also keep editing my second novel, hoping to get it sent to the publisher as soon as possible.

I’m involved in two game design projects: as graphic artist for Underworld Kitchen (an early stage startup), and as story writer and graphic artist for a project that can be defined as an interactive book and is a collaboration between artists, game designers and the university. More on that later.

I’m also still doing instructional illustration for A-lehdet and the beauty and health magazine Kauneus & Terveys (I can hardly believe I’ve been doing that for over one and a half years!).

Also, last week I was chosen as Executive Manager for an association called FIBUL rf, that supports writers and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature written in Swedish in Finland. Currently it is pro bono work on my part, but we are looking for financing for next year, and then hopefully I will be employed part time by the organization.

Hopefully I will also start touring schools later this Fall, as a “pelitaito-kouluttaja”, a sort of game educator. The aim of this state financed project is to spread awareness of gaming culture among kids and parents. It is not about preaching the “dangers of gaming”, on the contrary it is about educating people of the benefits and positive aspects of gaming as a hobby. 97 % of kids in Finland play digital games of some sort, in varying amounts. At the same time the prejudices against gaming are flourishing among grown ups, which might actually lead to more problems and unnecessary conflicts.

All these things might sound completely different, and you might wonder how I can work for both literature, arts and gaming? Well, for me there is no conflict. Reading, looking at picture books or animations, or playing games are equally valuable and interesting in their own ways. I do all of these things myself, and there is no way I can choose to just work with one of them. Actually I believe that these forms of expression can work along side each other and create value in society. Games could become more like literature, literature can spread into the digital realms. Stories can be told transmedially.

I wish to be that person who enables communication and new forms of expression, who builds bridges instead of building walls.

Thank you if you read this far 😀

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I’m also open for smaller illustration commissions or consultations now, or larger projects from November onwards. I’d love to hear from you. Mail me: jennykwiik@gmail.com

Fairy tale girls

Fairy tale girls

In my last blog post I said I have more good news. And I sure do!

I got a grant from The Finnish Association for Illustrators, that I’ve been a member of for eight years already. I haven’t applied for their working grants before, and in April I got the idea that my Goldilocks illustration could use some company. I already had a contact to a publisher who publishes easy to read books for all ages, and so I pitched them a story book with my illustrations. The fairy tales I’ve picked out will all have a girl protagonists. However, another author who knows more about easy to read texts will do the writing.

So in September and onwards I’ll be focusing on fairy tales! I’m so excited about this, it’s a dream come true. Ever since I was young I’ve adored classical fairy tale illustration, especially artists from the Nordic countries: John Bauer, Hans Arnold, Theodor Kittelsen, Rudolf Koivu, Kay Nielsen, Björn Landström and Tove Jansson of course. Now I will have a chance to make my own mark among these giants.

But the summer is all pixel art and games (I’ll update you on progress soon! Some awesome characters are forming as we speak). Goldilocks will have to wait a few months more…

Goldilocks is already available as a print: Check my Society6-shop!

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Games and studios

A lot has been going on this Spring! Here’s an update:

I’m home again with my third child. I had a six week work period around March, and focused on writing and editing my novel, doing some illustration commissions, and applying for some new jobs. Next time I’m working full time again is in August, when the baby is going to daycare. And in August I’m going to start renting a studio! I’m so very excited about it. I’ll be able to do more traditional art again! I’ll have space and time! It really is a dream come true. I don’t know if I can keep the studio longer than 5 months, but we’ll see. It depends on the work situation.

Another very exciting thing is that I am now part of a new game development team, and we were accepted into a start up accelerator and will be getting help this summer to start a game company. We’re already working on the game that the team was formed around, and a demo is due in the end of August. Even though I don’t have a lot of time to work before summer, when the baby can be more with her dad, I’m loving every second I can spend on working on the game graphics. I’m learning to  make pixel graphics and I love it. I’m also very happy with the team and getting to know the others. Our meetings are a lot of fun, even though it’s a bit of a struggle to watch the baby at the same time, hah – she really wants to start walking now and puts everything in her mouth…

Well, I’ll soon have more good news, but I still have to keep silent about those for a little while.

Unboxing and Making a Kano Computer

Last week I read a blog post at Kuvva blog about Kano – a Computer Kit. You can order it here.

This seemed like exactly the thing I’ve been looking for, both for me and for my kids (who are nine and six years old; we also have a baby, but she’s mostly interested in putting things in her mouth at the moment).

I’ve always been drawn to computers, I used to play with my dad’s old Apple machines in the 80s. But I never had the guts to just open one up and tinker with it. The Kano computer really takes away all fears!

Here’s what the box looked like when we got it.

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The design makes you happy. All day I’ve been seeing bright colors everywhere and felt a warm fuzzy feeling about all things tech.

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Me and my six year old daughter decided to do the unboxing. She immediately started examining the parts.

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Together we started following the very clear instructions in the manual.

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But we had to take a break when we got to the part where you connect the computer to a screen, because big brother was still playing on the PS3, and we had to connect to the TV, since the only other screen we had at home did not work with the HDMI wire.

Also baby needed feeding.

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When we got connected to the TV and got the power running, the magic started. The kids started quarreling a bit over who got to type on the keyboard and follow the instructions on screen (and don’t ask me why my daughter is without her shirt all of a sudden, she tends to do that when we’re at home).

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Baby sister wanted in on the fun too.

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We got everything installed, and the system updated. We even took a peek at the Minecraft app, where you can do programming with Kano blocks and change the Minecraft code. Wonderful!

So this is how far we got today. I loved the whole thing. The nine year old thought the little Judoka fellow who guides you was a bit silly, but I felt the whole design was very fun and friendly. I’ll write a bit more when we get to learning and playing around more with our Kano!