Annu Kilpeläinen This illustrator’s palettes are inspired by icing biscuits

Cover Image - Annu Kilpeläinen

Annu Kilpeläinen’s work is like a great summer flirt – it has a bright, energetic appearance demanding your attention, but it’s also effortlessly cool. The technicolor flower patterns, cars and heroines make for an original style, which, according to the Finnish artist, she owes to biscuits.

Before Annu became an artist, she worked at a biscuit factory where she designed and hand-iced cookies for corporate parties and birthdays. “I had lots of time mixing candy colors, and I think my eyes got so used to all the super-bright combinations it creeped into my work pretty easily too.” On top of that, she taught herself to simplify designs and to get rid of detailed outlines, as there’s only as much as you can draw on a biscuit.

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Her images are powerful, but there is a softness to them as well. For example, we see a cross-armed woman in a flowery dress, or an abandoned car overgrown with bright, spring blossom. The colors she uses are childhood favorites – pink, orange and light blue. Thus vibrance is strengthened by her use of big, flat shapes and this all adds to her joyously playful vibe.

Because her usual work is so colorful, she sometimes has a break to dabble in something a little more prosaic. “From time to time I get really tired of bright hues and draw one greyscale image. Then I’m good again for a year or two,” she says.

There’s an interesting dynamic between sterotypically “feminine” elements like the flowers or the colorful bras, with lots of hardware like planes and cars. “I love the culture of tuning up cars, like how far you can take a crappy old Corolla. It can have lights, bass and all kinds of extra bits put in it. It will still be that crappy old car, but for the person putting in all the work it is like a Bugatti. In a way they are an extension of us, or at least they have the potential to be.”