Sanna Annukka, the Brighton born-and-based printmaker, illustrator, and textiles-designer, is a long-standing favourite of this Brighton Creatives blogger.
And it all started with a Marks & Spencer Swiss biscuit tin.
One of the small pleasures of being alert to illustration in daily life is stumbling across visual languages so distinct you know the work is from a familiar hand. It’s like unexpectedly running into an old friend. While researching the Finnish design company Marimekko for my art foundation, I realised one of their designers had also decorated the biscuit tin I’d adored and kept as my best paintbox. You can picture my excitement a google later when I learned Sanna Annukka studied and worked in Brighton.
Growing up, Sanna spent her summers in Northern Finland, camping with her family in the wilds where her art would take root. Natural imagery fills her work: bears and birds, hares and horses, owls and otters, and many, many fir trees. Folklore inspires her, particularly Finland’s epic poem The Kalevala, a compilation of folklore and mythology. She also fondly admires the traditional imagery and costumes of the North Sami people.
You’d expect such traditional heritage to stand at odds with modern and retro traits. Instead, Sanna’s unmistakable style seamlessly integrates her varied influences through geometric shapes combined with restrained, thoughtful use of colour. Her work is at once appealingly modern, yet wouldn’t look out of place amongst a collection of folk art.
Sanna’s illustration projects have included cover design for Keane’s album Under the Iron Sea. She has also published an illustrated version of Hans Christian Andersen’s short story The Fir Tree. With its fabric cover and unconventional tall format, it’s an intriguing artistic treasure and an ideal introduction to her work.
Sanna began with textile collections for Marimekko. Her designs now decorate multiple homeware products. I find I’m drawn to artists who work across disciplines and materials, displaying as much skill in creatively enhancing functional, everyday objects, alongside making works on paper.
It’s fitting to close with Sanna’s own words regarding her work from her Marimekko profile: it’s all about “Storytelling, weaving folktales with my patterns.”
Lauren at Brighton Creatives