Portfolio: Janne Iivonen: bright and brilliant comic-style illustrations

This Brighton-based Finn has created wonderful illustrations for two of this week's most shared in-depth features on The Guardian and Esquire.


A freelance illustrator from Finland, and currently based in Brighton, Janne Iivonen's has swiftly become one of the hottest illustrators around. Uver the last couple of days he's illustrated two very widely shared, 'long-read' features that show that neither long-form journalism nor commissioned illustration hasn't been killed off by the web: The Guardian's in-depth investigation into the plight of Generation Y and Caitlin Moran's 12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won't Tell You for Esquire.

Read on to learn more about Janne and our interview with him.

Janne's character-based artwork stems from his daily observations of people and life around him. This adds a sense of relevance and realism to his work, which graces publications including The Guardian, The Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, Wired and more.


Problem Tenants: Editorial illustration for MoneySense Magazine

Digital Arts: Sum up your style in 5 words.

Janne Iivonen: "Clear lines, fun, characterful and topical."

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Business Acquisitions: Editorial illustration for Arvopaperi, a Finnish investment magazine

DA: Why do your clients choose you?

JI: "I think I have a unique style combined with solid drawing skills.

"I feel that my illustrations add a fun and optimistic vibe to their design projects."


Scientists on the move: Editorial illustration for Das Magazin

DA: Who or what is your biggest influence and why?

JI: "The late US illustrator Russell Patterson.

"His linework was superb, his composition skills were unparalleled and on top of this, his illustrations were witty and he could draw funny stuff equally well as cool looking characters and settings.

"Check out the clothes and props he designed for his characters."


Happy Accidents: Editorial illustration for The Creative Review

DA: What's the first thing you do when you start a project?

JI: "I usually start by doing one of the following: writing down ideas, sketching thumbnails or referencing."

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Coworking: Editorial illustration for American Airlines's American Way inflight magazine

DA: What are your favourite creative tools/software ?

JI: "Ballpoint pens for thumbnails and initial roughs, Col-Erase light-blue coloured pencils or Caran d'Ache Fixpencil 22 for pencil drawings, Clip Studio Paint EX for 'digital inking' and colouring."


Market Watch: Editorial illustration for Arvopaperi, a Finnish investment magazine

DA: What do these tools bring to your work?

JI: "The ballpoint pens are direct and rough allowing me to concentrate on just the idea and composition.

"Light blue pencils allow me to explore the forms and shapes as the blue marks don't read as definite and dark as graphite marks would.

"Clip Studio Paint allows me to ink and colour in fast and also to do mechanical drawings (with parallel and linear perspectives) that would be tedious and time consuming to set up on paper."


Scott Kelly: editorial illustration for The Observer

DA: What's the one thing you couldn't live without as an artist?

JI: "My eyes."

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Shaky Knees & Boots: Editorial illustration for Atlanta Magazine

DA: What music do you like to work to?

JI: "The Do!! You!! Breakfast show on NTS. Soundtracks by John Carpenter or Goblin. Ethiopian jazz, ,modern funk and early 80's boogie and funk.

"But when I need to concentrate on something I switch it all off as silence is golden for concentration – you don't want to have your brain working on several things at once."


Raum Kommando: Editorial illustration for SZ Magazin

DA: What's been your favourite artwork that you've created?

JI: "I really liked working on the Raum Kommando illustration that I did for SZ Magazin (pictured).

"I could include several visual gags in it and make it sort of absurd and surreal, while still trying to keep the composition solid."


Collaboration: Editorial illustration for YCN member briefing

DA: Are there any projects that you'd rather forget about?

JI: I" think every project teaches you something even the ones that you feel didn't turn out great, so I can't really choose one."

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Dive Like a Seal: Editorial illustration for Wired Magazine

DA: Who is the artist working today that you admire most?

JI: "I am a fan of Stefan Glerum's work as his line work and designs are excellent. Also Bendik Kaltenborn's stuff as it's really funny, loose and colourful.  "


Snack Wave: Op-Ed illustration for Image magazine

DA: What are you working on right now?

JI: Some technology- and fashion-themed illustrations."


Smart Home Editorial illustration for Wired magazine

DA: Where would you like to take your work/style in the future?

JI: "I'd like to expand on what I'm doing now and hopefully get my work on bigger surfaces.

"Also I'd like to work on some animated illustrations."

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Dragon: Editorial illustration for Arvopaperi, a Finnish investment magazine

DA: What has been inspiring you most recently?

JI: "I've started to make music again, which allows me to be creative in a different way."