Våren kommer med stora förändringar

Nu händer det mycket samtidigt! Men bara bra förändringar som tur. Jag kommer att flytta till en större lägenhet i slutet av mars, så det kommer att gå mycket tid till flyttförberedelser. Men det känns oerhört skönt att få mer utrymme och en nystart! Känner mig väldigt sugen på att få börja inreda och få vardagen att fungera i den nya bostaden. Det blir radhus den här gången!

Dessutom kommer jag att börja med ett nytt designprojekt deltid från och med mars! Det är oerhört inspirerande och jag kommer att ha nytta av all min erfarenhet, också den som har att göra med barn, vilket känns väldigt fint. Jag kommer skriva mer om det här projektet när det sätter igång, och jag är mer insatt. Jag ser också väldigt mycket fram emot att få arbeta i ett nytt team som verkar ganska underbart.

Dessutom planerar jag också spännande saker inför sommaren. Ett intressant samarbete och en konstutställning i augusti.

Så det bubblar av inspiration och energi i mig. Samtidigt som vardagen är som den är med tre barn! Minuttidtabell vissa dagar… Igår satte jag mig ner och vilade (satte mig framför datorn och stirrade på Facebook en stund, skrev några rader i min dagbok) först efter klockan 20. En dag av jobb och skjutsande, matlagning och hushållsarbete. Att vara närvarande. Det är den vardagen som många av oss har idag, medan andra kämpar med ensamhet och meningslöshet… Det känns alltså väldigt meningsfullt att vara viktig för många andra, men det kan vara uttröttande. Man sover gott efter en sån dag.

Den svåra andra boken

Egentligen känns den inte särskilt svår, det är allt runt omkring boken som varit svårt.

Jag började på den här berättelsen samma år som min första bok publicerades, det vill säga 2012. Fröet kom från en liten spontan skrivövning som jag gjorde för mig själv. Jag skrev i några minuter och en scen med en flicka ute i vildmarken dök upp. Sen byggde jag vidare på vem hon var, varför hon var där och en hel värld och en berättelse växte fram under 2013 och 2014. På våren 2014 hade jag två små stipendier för att skriva, och jag skrev färdigt ett första utkast på romanen just före mitt tredje barn föddes i maj 2014.

Samma vår funderade jag på hur jag skulle göra med min doktorsavhandling som jag lämnat in i december 2013 när min doktorandanställning tog slut. Jag hade inga pengar mer för forskning, och dessutom fungerade inte samarbetet med handledaren mera (och inte var det särskilt bra före heller). Jag skulle bli hemma med ett barn igen och bestämde mig för att släppa den akademiska karriären för tillfället. Men jag visste att jag knappast skulle komma tillbaka till det. Omständigheterna där var för svåra. Så jag valde att satsa på den konstnärliga banan istället.

När det gäller mitt arbete med illustration och textarbete efter detta vägskäl, så måste man ju säga att det gått ganska bra. Jag har fått många intressanta uppdrag, och för det mesta kunnat livnära mig på det. Men inte hela tiden. Sedan 2013 har jag bytt karriär och startat en egen firma, fått ett tredje barn, nästan studerat klart till en andra magisterexamen i design, skilt mig, kämpat med att få psykiatrisk hjälp åt mitt barn som inte klarar av skolan, själv nästan bränt ut mig… det har varit lite mycket kan man säga. Det värsta är den ekonomiska stressen när man inte har en regelbunden månadslön, och dessutom inte alltid får särskilt bra betalt för det jobb man får. Dessutom får jag inte mera stipendier för att arbeta vidare på min berättelse (ja, jag har försökt).

Någonstans där emellan har jag försökt komma tillbaka till manuset, och redan för 3-4 år sedan kände jag att jag vill ha mycket mer bilder än i min första bok. Den här berättelsen finns i mitt huvud som en explosion av bilder. Jag har alltid drömt om att skapa en grafisk roman. Eller sedan barndomen i varje fall, då jag slukade alla sorts serier, och ritade egna. Men om det tar tid att skriva en bok, så tar det dubbelt så mycket tid att rita en. I varje fall för mig. Det är supersvårt. Men jag vet också att jag är bra på det.

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Förra året kom jag längre på projektet. Det fick en ny titel (Hjärtat är skog), och jag skissade på några sidor, och sökte efter ett visuellt uttryck. Egentligen tänker jag inte så aktivt på hur jag vill att det ska se ut, utan försöker bara hitta stunder att arbeta på det. Stilen blir som den blir, för det här är mitt eget arbete, och ingen beställning.

Mitt mål nu är att få fram så många sidor att jag vågar börja publicera dem som en serie. Och jag skulle vilja använda Patreon som publiceringskanal, det vill säga också försöka mig på crowdfunding. Det finns ingen mening med att starta den före jag vet att jag kan förbinda mig till att publicera mer regelbundet. Och än så länge har en sån tanke varit fullständigt övermäktig.

Men nu har jag börjat skriva blogg igen. Och det var också ett steg att försöka aktivera mig, och kommunicera mer. Till en stor del har det varit möjligt för mig att komma tillbaka till att skriva här och ens föreställa mig att jag kan slutföra min grafiska roman, tack vare att det går lite bättre nu för mitt barn i skolan. Han får hjälp av många andra, och samarbetet fungerar. Under hösten gick en stor del av min arbetstid till att köra honom till olika platser, eller kommunicera med olika instanser för att han skulle få hjälp, och nu finns äntligen någon sorts fungerande rutin.

Man kan bara konstatera att kreativitet och konstnärligt skapande inte kan existera i en kaotisk tillvaro, under mental och psykisk press, eller utan TID. Hoppas på bättre tider nu…

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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…

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.

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

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.

Autumnal activities (portrait series and exhibition)

Time for an update! Besides being with the cutest baby ever, I’ve started editing my book manuscript and working on an art project when I have the time (which of course is almost never, but I can find a few minutes of time for art every now and then).

The new project is actually not that new, I’ve had it on my mind for a long time, but in the form of a diffuse inspired feeling. I’ve taken a lot of photos of my oldest daughter when she plays with clothes and scarves, and felt like painting or drawing her.

During summer I made this pencil drawing on paper:

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Then I got the idea to try acrylics (that I’m not so used to using, source of inspiration: Maija Hurme) and paint a year old Instagram photo that I’m especially fond of:

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And now I’m trying Kyle’s brushes (Happy HB) on Photoshop for a very fine pencil line:

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I’d also like to paint some very large scale acrylic paintings of these same poses, and really explore them. What feelings do the different techniques and sizes create? This is a playful project of exploration! We’ll see where it goes. I’m hoping to create a body of work around this theme that could be used for an exhibition.

And speaking of exhibitions: right now I have a ten minute film of my digital fantasy illustrations rolling in the public library. I’ll post the film here in October when the library exhibition is over! Here’s the flyer (in Swedish):

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Summer update

Summer update

My third child was born in the end of May, so the summer has been spent recovering and taking care of our youngest daughter. But I’ve also been making new plans and done some drawing when I have the chance (follow me on Instagram for updates @kolofont2). There are also four new projects published on Behance now. Mostly with older work that I wanted to display in that forum as well, like this fashion illustration:

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…But also with some newly published work. I made an illustration for Ken Liu’s short story The Paper Menagerie, that has now been translated into Swedish.

The Paper Menagerie - illustration for Ken Lius short story (2013)
The Paper Menagerie – illustration for Ken Lius short story (2013-14)

I’ve also been working on a new SF illustration, but we’ll see when I manage to finish it. Right now my first priority is the baby and spending time with my family while they have their summer vacation.