TWS –Hi Miko, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi. I was born in 1976. Have been living in Helsinki, Finland for my whole life. Never got into any art schools that I tried to. At daytime, I work as a painter painting walls, ceilings and whatnot. At evenings, I hang with my family (two teenagers and wife) and produce cultural elements like collages, paintings and sample-based music.
I love thrift stores and flea markets mainly because I collect records (also listen and use them), old soviet toys, old magazines (use them also) and many other things. Wouldn’t call myself a hoarder though, because I’m willing to give up on things and also use it as material for my work.
TWS –How did you arrive to with collage as your medium of choice?
As long as I can remember I have been cutting and glueing things together.
About two or three years ago I started doing collaborative works with my artist friend Aleksi Tolonen, which were mostly mixed media works consisting lots of collaged elements. That made me use more and more collage on my own work as well.
I’m also doing paintings and assemblages but for the last few years I have mostly been focusing on collages (although I always have some unfinished paintings lurking somewhere on the background).
TWS –When seeing your work I have the impression of being in front of the bauhaus on acid. There’s a tension between geometry and precision battling against imperfections and rawness. There’s pureness but also there’s something mischievous.
I get your point and that sounds quite flattering. But in my own mind it’s more like Berlin dadaists drunk on vodka.
Some of my work lean more on the precision side and some others to the imperfection side. But there is always a battle going on between these two notions. If I feel that some work starts to look too clean and tidy I try to destroy it a little bit, add elements that will mess it up or sometimes scratch it’s surface to remove parts and to make it look more rugged. On the other hand if it looks too messy I’ll try to add elements that make it at least little bit more disciplined.
TWS –How would you define your approach to art?
My approach is playful and experimental. For me the process is at least as important as the end result. Usually when I start new work I have no idea what it’s about or what it’s gonna look like when finished. So in that sense it’s quite spontaneous.
I frequently get in situations where I’m thinking that this is not going anywhere or that this is not working (the balance is off, or the colors don’t seem to match etc.). That’s a position where I love to be, trying to figure my way out of the mess. I’m stretching and breaking my own and others’ rules as I go along.
One of the most important skill is to know when to stop adding layers, to know when the work is ready. It’s sometimes surprisingly difficult.
TWS –How would you describe your style and which artists have influenced you and your work?
I leave the style descriptions to others. My work is definitely combination of many styles, maybe a sort of an unruly collage of styles. I Really haven’t thought of that so much.
My influences are Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters, Gustav Klutsis to name a few. Haven’t been following contemporary collage that much until lately through social media. There is plenty of interesting stuff to be found there.
There are some painters like Paul Klee, Ernst Mether-Borgström, Eileen Agar. Esiri Erheriene-Essi incorporates collage elements to her paintings in a great way.
Of course there are tons of old and new art that influence you all the time. Also graffiti, comics and ads are a big influence to me. The list goes on and on.
TWS –Humor seems to be an important part of your work. How do you feel about it?
My aim is to have fun while working on these things, hoping it comes across to the viewer. I’m trying not to take myself or my art too seriously.
TWS –I feel your pieces are powerful storytellers. How do you feel about this? Can you describe your work process? How does storytelling and conceptual work fit into this process.
I think it’s great that you can find stories from my work. Everyone should find their own. I feel that the stories enter the picture after they are ready. I wouldn’t say I’m consciously thinking of stories while I make them but I also see them sometimes in finished works.
The beginning of my artistic process is usually the source material. Going trough magazines or precut stuff that I have a few boxes of. I find a color or a shape that I like and start building on that. But as I mentioned before I rarely have any specific idea as I start. On collages I use exclusively printed matter. My process is strictly analog. I also like digital collages but haven’t really done them myself.
From the flea markets of Helsinki (as we are on the crossroads of east and west) you can still easily find old magazines and record covers (among other things) from Soviet Union dating back to 40’s up until 80’s. They usually have great colors and shapes and are a big inspiration. I use old magazines, books, record covers (not anything rare), posters, envelopes, colored paper, cardboard, stickers. Pretty much anything you can cut and paste.
TWS –Which is your definition of collage?
You can see the whole world as a collage. On a small scale and on a big scale. It’s mishmash of people, cultures, colors and shapes beautifully smashed together.
It is the metamorphosis that happens on the border of the two interconnected elements and seeing what new meanings comes out of that. That’s the exciting part.
I’m also the other half of a two-man beat making squad Koti6. The other half is collage artist Tatu Tuominen. We have published few records and made some beats for Finnish rappers. Our music is mostly sample-based, cutting and pasting prerecorded audio. Which is also collaging, just a different medium.