Jirka Väätäinen is a talented Graphic Designer/Illustrator from Finland. This interview will give us an insight into the life and work of this amazing designer. His brilliant series, “Envisioning Disney Characters in Real Life” is featured in this inspiring interview. So read on and discover Jirka’s passion and inspirations for his artworks.
First off, we’d like to know more about you. Can you tell us more about yourself?
I’m a 22 year-old guy, and I am native Finn (from Kuopio, Finland). I am a final year Graphic Design student at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. I have lived here in England since September 2009.
When did your love affair with design and illustration begin?
Very early on in my life! Ever since I was a little kid, I have always done a lot of arts related stuff and kept myself busy by being creative. But it wasn’t till high school until I realized that I wanted to turn my interests into a career in design.
What inspires you to create?
I draw inspiration from all areas of design and visual culture, whether it is movies, fashion, photography, graphic design or so on. So give me anything visual really, and I am good to go! And it’s the actual creative process that really drives me – creating something visual is what I love to do.
Does your environment or personal life have an influence in your designs?
Probably on an unconscious level. All of my experiences have obviously made me who I am, and I believe to be expressing myself through being creative. I just can not pinpoint what the exact influences are!
Do you consider anyone as your mentor? What other artist inspires you?
There are so many talented people, and so much inspiring stuff out there, but I have to say that I have never really followed the work of any specific artists religiously, so I don’t really consider anyone as my mentor. Different people have inspired me at different times.
What tools/apps do you usually use in creating your projects?
Obviously my favorite tool is Photoshop, since I’m most familiar with it, and know how to use it to my advantage. A lot of my projects include me taking photos of my own, so I’m carrying a digital camera with me a lot of times. As a graphic designer I naturally use most of the Adobe software, and use InDesign and Illustrator for more of a traditional design work as typesetting, lay outs and logo designs. Film and animation have always intrigued me as well, so I have spent a fair amount of time playing around in After Effects and Flash as well. So as you can see, most of the tools I rely on are digital.
Would you say that you have a signature style? How did you develop it?
Well I have been recognized for the style I have used for my ‘real life’ Disney character project – so yes, I would say that has become a
signature of mine. It has been developed by my love of experimenting with Photoshop. I found that combining techniques such as digital
painting, photo compositing and manipulation simply excited me, and resulted in visually stimulating outcomes.
You made an amazing series on “Real Life Disney Characters”. Can you tell us more about doing your own take on these Disney characters? What inspired you to create this personal project?
First of all, I have always been interested in character design, as well as the way people look and what makes them unique in their appearances. But the idea for doing these characters basically came out of nowhere; one day I just thought about exploring what the character of Ursula from the Little Mermaid could look like in real life. And being grown up with a lot of these characters, the sense of nostalgia made it such a fascinating and a fun personal project to explore and carry on with.