3DTotal: Hello Kirsi, could you tell us about your background in art and what made you decide to base your life around it?
Kirsi: Well, maybe I could say that I’ve been lucky to be able to do what I’ve wanted ever since I was very little. My parents supported me about choosing an artistic path because they could see that was what I loved to do. After high school I went to study fine arts at South Karelia University of Applied Sciences here in Finland, and after four years there I graduated as a Visual Artist. While still studying, I trained my digital painting skills mostly at home, since the school provided more traditional tutoring rather than digital. So honestly, I was not a very good student in most of the teacher’s eyes, because I only wanted to work with computers and toss the real brushes aside! Living in such a small country as Finland, it’s not easy to
build your career based on just art. But it’s become a way of living for me and can't imagine a life without making beautiful pictures from what I constantly see in my mind's eyes. Over the years this feeling of also sharing stories through images have only grown stronger and I'm confident that this is the path I must follow until I simply can't do it anymore. You could say that I'm the kind of artist who won't stop until they drop [Laughs]!
3DTotal: So have you ever thought about leaving Finland and going somewhere where you could develop your skills further and maybe get a job in the industry? Or are you content with where you are now? Kirsi: There’s always a chance I’ll be moving away from Finland sooner or later, but the reason why I haven’t done that yet is honestly because I haven't felt ready for it. It’s not easy to just pack your bags and take off after a position without fully knowing what you're doing; it takes some serious planning and a mind-blowing level of drive and devotion. Freelancing is much more complex and riskier than seeking out a steady job, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to develop my skills and own style while making a living by working at home for the time being. I consider myself careful and open-minded when it comes to job opportunities, but not reckless. If there’s a great offer and a project that just lifts all the hairs on the back of my neck from excitement, then I’m where I needed to be.
3DTotal: Your passion for the fantasy genre is evident throughout your portfolio, whether it’s commission-based or personal. What is it about this particular genre that captivates you?
Kirsi: Hard to say actually. I've always been a dreamer of ”other realities”. Also since I was a teenager I’ve got to know certain
comics like The Sandman Saga, and Neil Gaiman's storytelling and characters alone were mind-blowing for someone like me who already had a vivid imagination and creative drive from the age of about two – or younger [Laughs]! I think that only the limitless area of fantasy gives you permission to use the whole range of your inner ”self” and express your mind and feelings in their fullest ways. The images that are hidden in the far corners of the consciousness and below are the jewels that I love about looking at fantasy art. There are no laws or rules to restrict the ideas you have. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing employers and clients who share this kind of approach to ideas, so even the commissions have been fun and enjoyable to make.
3DTotal: Fantasy and Science Fiction are very closely linked and you’re only really bound by your imagination. Have you ever
been tempted to dabble within this genre? Kirsi: Before I saw lots of differences between these two genres, but as I've grown older they actually just vary from each other in the general appearance of how you visualize ideas. I'm interested just as much in jumping into “outer space” and the future and finding out what kind of technological wonderland can be presented to mankind. I think what keeps me closer to fantasy is that it's closer to nature and natural phenomenon; apparently it has more “soul”, so to speak. But that's also a matter of approach and I see Sci-Fi as a very interesting area that I’d like to explore deeper in years to come. Artistically it's not been as appealing, but spiritually very much so! Movies like Terminator, Blade Runner, A.I, Sunshine, The Core and the Star Wars-saga are all good examples for me of how Sci-Fi and humanism - the real essence of a human being - connect in even the most mechanical vision of the world. It's very beautiful how people learn things and ponder about the universe and origins of mankind. 3DTotal: I’ve noticed in your portfolio that your currently working on a book project entitled Ordera. Could you tell us a bit about this book and also your reasons for creating it? Kirsi: Glad you asked about that. It’s a personal story that I started writing in the summer of 2007. It all began after the weirdest chain of events ... My computer suffered some serious damage from a passing thunderstorm and I was forced to stop working for over three weeks while waiting to get new parts. But as hyper as I am, I just couldn’t sit still and do nothing at that time. So one evening, as I was sitting at the table in my mother’s house, I just picked up a pen and started scribbling down notes
about a group of people who popped into my mind solely from intuition and who were quickly were family trees and relations between them. Suddenly I realized that this could have real potential to grow into a full story, with a world of strange creatures and races of its own. Much like Discworld, but still totally different. There are no elves, dwarfs or humans in world of Ordera, but there are the human-looking races called the guroae and the sangrae, who are like two sides of the same coin to each other. The first one are oriented to enforce their physical strength and maintain a certain genetic purity, and the other has based their life principles under the various rules of magick and are developing their spiritual power in close collaboration with the guroaes. These two main races live on the surface of a world that’s much like Earth. But of course if there’s a surface, there’s also the place below it ... and that’s the ancient underworld of Nezca, inhabited by much older races than Ordera has ever known. To Ordera this world no longer exists except in myths and bed-time stories told to children. One incident causes a chain of events that tangle these worlds together and once a certain door is opened, it cannot be closed again.
The book tells a story of a relatively small group of people who find themselves connected between these two worlds, and they begin to solve the mystery of the strange disappearance of a sangrae-girl named Valera. At the same time they discover how their reality is very different from what they had always believed it to be.
It’s a tale of survival, seeking truth, justice and most of all personal growth – showing how the old and new ages meet and react to each other. The complicated and mostly selfish heroes are the heroes and villains of the story, the line is thin between good and evil and it's up to the reader to interpret the morality of their choices. My goal is to create characters that are as believable and authentic as possible, so the reader could genuinely relate to them. Once I get to finish the complete book, I hope it will be something inspiring, thoughtful and exciting for all kinds of readers.
There's a suitable excerpt in the beginning of the book which explains a lot about the mentality throughout the story, said by a great swordsman and legend who was said to have “touched the roof of the sky with his sword and asked the Gods for immortality”, but this didn't happen. That guroae wrote before his death: ”Free Soul of mine, please remember to come back to me, as you fly to faraway places, travel to the roads unknown”.
Once I get to publish the first book (of four all together), it will at first be available in the Finnish language. I really hope to get it translated into English as well, but that depends on a lot of funding. There are also other exciting side projects about Ordera which are being planned at the moment. I'm designing a short illustrated novel about some sections of the book as kind of visual treats and also because I believe the main characters deserve to be presented with illustrated fireworks!