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Helsinki-based surface and textile designer Reeta Ek is one of Finland’s latest rising stars. I featured her gorgeous art in an article back in 2017, after she was named Finland’s Young Designer of the Year.
Reeta’s fine art background influenced her style greatly. She approaches her compositions like a painter, creating fresh, distinctive hand drawn and patterns using brushes; Her print patterns are often characterized by a rhythmic quality stemming from this process. Reeta counts brands such as Marimekko, Nanso and Lapuan Kankurit as clients, for which she designed clothing, bedspread, placemats, bags, and more. She also recently did a special collaboration with Stilleben, one of my favorite design & lifestyle shop in Copenhagen.
I wanted to know more about her, and she kindly agreed to answer my questions.
Toukokuu print by Reeta Ek
Q: Were you always interested in art? How did you decide to become an artist?
A: I have always been interesting in creating and doing things by hands. My background is in fine arts, but couple years after graduating I realized I need something more, some other perspective to what I’m doing. Also I was really interested in wallpapers and repeating patterns, so I figured that textile design could be my thing. Now it’s interesting to look back and see the perspective of my history so far. How the artist and designer in me are more blend in.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: It’s very difficult to do it by yourself. But I would say that my style is more abstract than realistic. It’s sometimes painterly, other times more graphic.
Exclusive print collection by Reeta Ek for Stilleben.dk
Q: Can you tell me more about the process of making your work?
A: I always do the sketches by hand and often use the method/practice called mark-making, where I try different materials or tools to make marks. For example dipping tooth-sticks into ink and see what kind of lines I can draw, or paint with my fingers or scratch painted surface with needle. Very basic things, really, things every textile designer have tried on their surface design –courses. For me this kind of working method leaves space and a role to spontaneity. Something interesting can happen by accident. More than trying to create something ready, I am exploring and not too much responsible for the result. Maybe it will become something or maybe it’s just another sketch. The process itself has an important role.
Q: Did you study art? How did/do you develop your talent?
A: Yes, I studied fine arts for 3 years. As I told before, wallpapers were my very first passion and touch into repeats and textile design and leaded my way to what I’m doing now.
Gift cards designed by Reeta Ek for Finnish Design Shop | Photo: Suvi Kesäläinen
Q: Best thing about being an artist / why do you love what you do?
A: I would say the flow-moments. And here I have to say, that flow-moments are not something that only artists experience. I am also an entrepreneur and that is very much related to this “what’s best thing”. I like to do many things and decide what to do and when.
Q: Where do you find inspiration? And are there artists that you look up to, that are influencing you?
A: Inspiration is strange thing, cause it usually comes when you don’t expect it. But that also tells something about the creative process in general; the creativity or ideas are “on the move” all the time. In my master thesis I studied the creative process and that somehow opened my eyes to understand how different phases have their places in the bigger picture. I saw the structure, also how the fear of blank paper is always there but it doesn’t mean you are bad designer or still taking baby steps on your design-career. It belongs there, but to win your fears and doubts you just have to work; draw, paint, cut or what ever you do and in the end you will find yourself being interested in something. It can be very small thing, but it leads you forward. When you work, you same time feed your subconscious and then, without pushing, it starts to create more ideas and moments of inspiration. So in the end, it’s all very simple! But it takes time and that is many times the biggest challenge – how to have enough time for creative work.
I’ve never had particular role models or idols and maybe more than artist’s or designer’s style I get fond of their attitude and their commitment to their work. Colleagues have very important role and they help you to reflect yourself in the bigger picture.
Marimekko SS2015 collection featuring two of Reeta’s prints | Photo: Marimekko
Q: How would you define beauty?
A: I think the old saying: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, describes is the best.
Q: What are your thoughts on the place of art has in a home?
A: Maybe the previous answer fits here too. You can’t tell someone the place of art, but you have to see it yourself. Also what is art.
Q: Dream subject/assignment/collaboration? Or any special projects at the moment?
A: I was lucky to have a grant from Alfred Kordelinin Säätiö, and that has enabled me to put more time to creative process and find something new. Right now I’m really exited about new technique I found, monotype, and also the collaboration I have done with my sister, who is ceramicist. I have a feeling that these things will lead to something in the future.
Aya Napa print by Reeta Ek
Q: What is your favourite places to see art in Scandinavia, and why?
A: Oh, there are so many and I’m definitely not an expert to tell. But last month I visited Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art close to Copenhagen and that I could really recommend to everybody!
In Helsinki, there are many nice galleries and museums. One of my favorites is Didrichsen Art Museum in Kuusisaari. It’s like a little sister to Louisiana.
Q: What advice would you give to a young artist following in your steps?
A: Trust in yourself, don’t be scared of making mistakes, don’t think too much about what you are expected to do and how. Try to find things that make you feel good and safe when you work. They can be very simple things like for me coffee and listening some good podcasts are things that help me get in to the mood. Also for your business, try to be a nice person to work with. Nobody wants to work with an “asshole”, even a talented one :)
Wallpaper design by Reeta Ek for Feathr
First photo: Suvi Kesäläinen