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. 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] 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