Lotta Nieminen

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Art direction, illustration, and layout for the anniversary issue of Tuli & Savu, a Finnish poetry publication, 2008. Designers: Lotta Nieminen, Janine Rewell.

Title: Designer, Illustrator

From: Helsinki

Lives in: Helsinki

Age: 24

URL: lottanieminen.com

The Helsinki-based designer and illustrator Lotta Nieminen entered her first design competition when she was 12 years old; she won the grand prize–a hulking PC–by creating an entire issue of her very own fashion magazine. “My magazine featured self-staged fashion shoots modeled by friends, and epic stories about seals and Spice Girls,” Nieminen says. “The whole layout was made by hand with pencil illustrations, hand-lettered type, and cut-and-pasted photographs. I guess they saw I really needed that computer.”

Currently, she works as a designer at Trendi, a Finnish lifestyle and fashion publication. Her work, especially her issues of the poetry magazine Tuli & Savu, uses space and color in surprising combinations. But it’s her expansive, multilayered illustrations–commissioned by magazines as diverse as Paste, Plan Sponsor, and Welcome to Finland–that have been quickly gaining a wider audience.

Nieminen studied graphic design at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki before a year at Rhode Island School of Design helped pinpoint illustration as central to her creative practice. “In graphic design, my style is rather minimalist,” she says. “But there are some things I can only express with illustration, where my style is more generous. They serve different, but equally important purposes.”

She draws, cuts, scans, photocopies, and Photoshops to create her mixed-media illustrations and relies on a personal “surface library,” a collection of scanned patterns generated through hard use of a Xerox machine. This emphasis on shadow and grain plays with the cutout shapes, pleasing color palettes, and subdued humor inherent in each piece.

It was also at RISD that she was inspired by the work ethic of her peers, while learning to balance the rigors of the job. “Seeing how much people worked there definitely motivated me,” she says. “I try to keep time off as well. The easiest way for me to get inspired is to get bored. But finding time to get bored tends to be tricky.”

Illustration for Aviisori, 2008.

Visual identity and packaging design for a limited edition of 20 scarves by Danish designer Anne Mette Fisker Langkjer, 2008.

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