From: HelsinkiLives in: Helsinki
“I didn’t realize how Scandinavian my style was until I came to the U.S.,” says Janine Rewell, a Finnish designer based in Helsinki. She describes her work as “a weird cultural mix of Scandinavian northern Europe and Slavic eastern Europe.” It works: Rewell produces illustrations for some of the most famous Finnish brands that operate on a global scale, such as Nokia and Marimekko.
She didn’t plan on becoming an artist. “My parents are unacademic hippies,” she says. “So as a child I always wanted to be the opposite and have an academic education and a normal job, from nine to five.” She ended up studying graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Aalto University School of Art and Design Helsinki. Rewell’s favorite designs are pieces that fulfill her own childhood wants—such as the one for a striking black-and-white dollhouse. And her use of different media shows the breadth of her talent. “Tan Man,” a piece developed with artist James Titterton, places Rewell’s decorative motifs on human skin, an effect achieved with vinyl stickers and a solarium.
Whereas it’s perhaps the American way to want a clearly spelled-out meaning in everything, Rewell’s sensibility allows her to simply draw without forcing it. She doesn’t change her style for different countries, but she does present her ideas differently. “For Americans, everything has to be written down. You have to be really clear about the concepts. For other countries, you don’t have to explain so much.”
Ironically, she’s pleased her parents and avoided the office job. “Because I live in a different time zone than my clients, there is no point in working nine to five,” she says, and admits to sleeping late and working in the evening. “I was always fighting against my parents’ hippie ways,” she laughs. “But then I ended up with this free lifestyle.”
Spreads from Tuli & Savu. Art directors/designers: Janine Rewell, Lotta Nieminen; client: Nihil Interit & UIAH.
About the author:
Claire Lui has written about books,movies, design for Martha Stewart Living, Entertainment Weekly, The SanFrancisco Chronicle, and Columbia College Today. She lives in Astoria,Queens.
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