• Dash-Magazine-Olesja
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja1
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja5
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja3
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja6
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja4
  • Dash-Magazine-Olesja2

Olesja Hannikainen is one of those illustrators that makes you long for the past. The Finnish artist is always pushing herself forward, experimenting with ink, acrylic, gouache and aquarelle. However, there is always a nod to the past and the classic illustrators who made the profession what it is today.

Olesja, how has your day been?
My day has been absolutely great: Slept late with no alarm clock, working in sunny Helsinki discussing a new illustration project and now I am planning to paint more.

Have you always been creatively hands-on as a kid?
Yes, I was really into art and fashion design as a teenager. I made my own accessories and wanted to be a fashion designer.  I used to have my own comic strip in high school, fashion-related of course!

There is something quite classic about your aesthetic – who are the illustrators that have influenced you the most?
Thank you! Classic, I suppose, is something I am after. There are very many illustrators I like. Every single illustration by the one and only Mr. David Downton is a piece of art. I adore his style, how effortless it always looks, but perfectly balanced. He makes black and grey look so rich through stripes, shading, contrast. Yet everything is so light because the handprint is so transparent. Breathtaking.

I very much like oil paintings by Vincent Bakkum – very juicy colours and beautiful floral details. His illustrated woman is very feminine. It is impossible not to mention the legendary Rene Gruau. Gruau is synonymous with that vintage glamour and his illustrations are always like storytelling; there is this sense of something spontaneously ‘caught in a moment’.

Finally, probably the most influential fashion illustrator for me is Jason Brooks. When I saw his Hed Kandi CD-covers in the early 2000s I was blown away. All models had gorgeous cat eyes and long shiny hair – they danced and enjoyed life. His illustrations back then were so new, modern and distinct. First of all, it was digital art. Secondly, they were so glamorous and stylish, as if they represented a lifestyle. I wanted to be the girl in the picture! Being very inspired, I started to draw with computer programs too back then.

What kind of medium would you like to break into and experiment with?
I have taken a few aquarelle classes lately; this is something at the moment I want to practice more. Drawing perhaps less precise images, adding more water to have blurred effects.

What are some of the main challenges of being a fashion illustrator today?
Not only today, but in general, I think the challenge is to commercialise your own art. Not everybody is an innate entrepreneur. Artistic people tend to be more interested in the creative process itself rather than the business side: marketing, branding, strategic thinking about collaborations, networking, etc. There are many great illustrators out there; the competition is tough, and I wish more firms and brands were interested in creative collaborations.

Who are the fashion designers that inspire you to pick up a pencil and a blank sheet of paper?
There are so many! Haute couture fashion really is my cup of tea. Giambattista Valli, Stéphane Rolland, Chanel, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Lanvin. It depends on the mood: The sophistication of Armani or Ralph Lauren; Valentino, Lacroix and Oscar de la Renta, if I want to draw something very feminine. I also very much like the structured, graphic, almost geometric designs by names such as Haider Ackermann, Ferré or Alexandre Vauthier.

If you could live in any city, which one would it be and why?
Probably Milan as it is one of the fashion capitals of the world. You’d never run out of inspiration. Plus it is so much warmer than my beloved Helsinki.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I gave up planning a long time ago…

Interview: Nada Abdul Ghaffar

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on Twitter