Antti Kalevi

Words and illustrations by Antti Kalevi

Story originally published in Volume Nine


Antti’s work ranges from illustrations for the New York Times to children’s books, to textile designs, ceramic cups and poster designs. He started his illustration practice immediately after graduating from Aalto University in 2014 and has been working independently ever since. 

Currently I’m very interested in shapes and finding surprising colour palettes, and lately I’ve been drawing lots of abstract compositions. For me it’s been more about experimenting with different aesthetics, rather than creating stories or narratives behind my work. It’s been a long process and I’ve been trying a lot of different things. I studied graphic design, but my BA thesis was about finding my own style as an illustrator. In the end it was basically a combination of 1. what kind of style comes naturally to me 2. what is interesting to look at and 3. what I like doing. I always try to work towards a style that feels natural to me. My main mission is to keep up a good work flow while having fun, maintaining a childlike attitude.

I love the feeling of surprising myself while working. Right now I’m particularly interested in working with textile, ceramics and different kinds of products. I’d love to paint big murals too. There is always something new to experiment with.
— Antti Kalevi

Ever since the beginning of my practice, I’ve wanted to combine my artistic work with commercial projects. Even though every project is different, I have some kind of routine: I read the brief carefully and then let it sink in for a while, to let my subconscious do its thing. At some point I start drawing, I actually don’t sketch that much. Firstly, I try to get into the right mood and be spontaneous—I love the feeling of surprising myself while working. Right now I’m particularly interested in working with textile, ceramics and different kinds of products. I’d love to paint big murals too. There is always something new to experiment with.

What’s great with illustrations is that they can show all different kinds of emotions, as well as illustrate very abstract topics that would be hard to achieve with photography, for example. Fortunately illustrations are being used in so many different ways nowadays, generating many interesting possibilities. However, the market here in Finland is really small, so illustrators have to have a strong personal style to succeed. This results in very high quality illustrations in a variety of styles.