Finnish artist and illustrator Toni Halonen is very much in demand. Whether it’s brands like Kenzo and Nokia, magazines like Trendi and Bloomberg Businessweek or institutions like the Design Museum Finland, clients are queuing up for a dose of his bright bold imagery. So we were super-excited when he agreed to create the latest artwork for our London Graphic Centre billboard project and even more thrilled when we saw his final image for the Covent Garden store.
Toni was the first non London-based creative we commissioned for the project but it was a no-brainer to work with him and luckily he was equally inspired by the opportunity.
“It sounded exciting,” he says. “I have been featured on the site couple of times so it was nice to take things bit further and do an actual project together. I discussed various ideas with the art director Jamie McIntyre and when we found an interesting one that wasn’t too cliched, I proceeded from there.”
Anything Christmas-related obviously comes with a lot of visual baggage but from the off Toni was inspired to think differently about the festive season. The resulting image is a celebration of creative energy; it’s clearly Christmas but in Toni’s hands this is a dynamic scene of friends making things in their living room, rather than the usual stereotypes of rest, relaxation and over-indulgence. But like many creatives, Toni’s starting point was to let the ideas come to him.
“I started the project by taking a long walk. I find it a lot easier to come up with ideas when I can block the daily stress away somehow and just let my mind wander. It seems to always lead to new ideas.” After preparing some initial sketches on the computer he then came back to talk through the creative direction with us.
“It’s important to keep an open discussion with the client so it’s not a complete shock when you present your final work! Professionals in the creative business seem to always complain how the clients turn down the best ideas, but in reality it’s not the client’s fault; it’s just that you need to try to sell your ideas better!”
Once the final route was decided on, Toni went back to his Wacom to work up the final designs, although he often uses acrylic paint as part of his process. Now he is excited that it’s not only going to exist in real life ("So much of work these days is used just online”) but also that it’s going to be printed on a billboard in a prime creative location in London.
“I hope it makes someone come out there with bags full of paints and brushes and an eager mind to make their own art,” he says. “It would be awesome to inspire someone to start painting.”
The brilliant Osma Harvilahti also went into Toni’s studio to shoot a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the colourful creative’s world – you can watch the film below.
About the Author
Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.