Illustrator of the Year 2019

September 9th – October 27th, 2019

Galleri Hanaholmen, Espoo

Although Matti Pikkujämsä (b. 1976, Oulu) works internationally, his illustrations portray the Finnish spirit with their spruces and domestic animals. His style features echoes of Nordic design from the previous decades, depicted from a new, fresh perspective. He takes Finnish expertise out into the world with a sympathetic, skilled touch.

The award exhibition features new works specially made for the show. The new works are joined by some of Pikkujämsä’s most iconic pieces as part of a themed selection, engaging with Hanaholmen – the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centres history and unique setting.

Pikkujämsä has illustrated more than 20 picture books. He has designed textile patterns for Lapuan kankurit and Samuji, among others, and regularly does illustrations for Helsingin Sanomat. Pikkujämsä is a popular painter of portraits and has made the almost lost tradition of portrait painting trendy again. In the Cup of Therapy project, Pikkujämsä illustrated mental health problems and wellbeing to make them visible. A postage stamp set illustrated by Pikkujämsä was released in February this year. Pikkujämsä often visits Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall, the first public indoor pool in Finland, to relax. Another recurring location in his paintings is the Botanical Gardens.

The jury chose Matti Pikkujämsä as the first Illustrator of the Year in history, because he constantly develops himself and boldly ventures into new areas. He is a phenomenal talent and an outstanding illustrator who breathes through his pen. His illustrations are not just decorations, but stories. His characters are always alive. He has served as a role model for many illustrators, but has a humble approach to his talent, understanding that it only forms the underlying framework for actual work.

Matti Pikkujämsä has been given the State Prize for Illustrations in 2015 and the Rudolf Koivu Prize in 2013. This is the first time that The Finnish Illustration Association has given him an award. “I cannot believe this,” said Matti when he heard about the award. “I feel like I have the obligation to be even better in the future.”

The award prize is funded from the copyright remunerations collected by Kopiosto. The exhibition is organized by The Finnish Illustration Association together with the Hanaholmen Cultural Centre and it is a part of Helsinki Design Week. The exhibition is organized in cooperation with Design Museum, Lapuan kankurit, Kunstventures, Posti, The Postal Museum and Samuji.

VEERA PEKKINEN, Curator, The Finnish Illustration Association
AINO KOSTIAINEN, Program Coordinator, Hanaholmen

Matti Pikkujämsä – Vuoden Kuvittaja 2019 from Kuvittajat ry on Vimeo.