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.

jennywiikillu_greengold.jpg

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!

goldisoc6screenforweb

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.

kanobox

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

kanohug

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

unboxkano kanocards

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

kanobuilding

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.

IMG_3113

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).

firsttypekano

Baby sister wanted in on the fun too.

kanocomputer

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!