Erkki Toukolehto

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Erkki Toukolehto. I do illustration, graphic/logo/type design and I also create various types of other images.

What inspires you?

Probably some of my most consistent and recurring sources of inspiration are concrete, tangible subjects and their application: materials, equipment, colours etc. The process of creating pictures is also very important: Results and markings that happen are very responsive to what I see, think or feel during the process. 

Aside from these, there are other sources of inspiration like pieces of art, music and science, but I tend to avoid direct influence from the creations of others. (To me it’s not a matter of “originality” as much as it’s about purity of observation and implementation.)

What themes do you pursue?

There are many themes, I’m very fascinated by the relationship and/or difference between the line and the surface, when the one becomes another and how a perfunctory “zig zag” (ie. a cluster of lines) gives different impression of a surface than pedant colouring. I am fascinated by (I suppose) semiotic, symbolic aspects of strokes and lines that are often unseen, like how a representational drawing in the end is just a messy, happy coincidence of markings on the paper. When zoomed in the drawing eventually loses it’s representational, symbolic qualities. People reason that within a pretty picture exists something true and universal, something relevant outside human context, yet even the prettiest images communicate only among us (and not even all of us). 

There’s also the theme of appeal and ugliness, anomaly and/or imperfection. I like to think I’ve developed some aesthetic hard-wiring when it comes to compositions and such, that kicks in when I produce something lousy or uninteresting. I usually struggle with various emotions while trying to “correct” a piece. This is interesting since most of my pictures don’t attempt to represent anything. 
This takes me to the theme of painting process where you add more color, scrape it off or go over etc while trying to constantly observe and lead/control the results… and how my style of pencil drawing is a variation of that process. 

So there are many things. 
It’s important to note that I don’t attempt to communicate any of these themes through my work nor do I expect people to read these themes from the pieces. So I suppose I don’t exactly pursue as much as I process them.

Why art?

I suppose it’s the typical snowball effect caused by family background, childhood encouragement, identity and education etc. Of course I’ve been always genuinely interested in some art, but favourites keep changing for me. I really dislike many of the phrases and convention and adoration that tend to debase many sensory/aesthetic aspects of visual art these days, at least in Finland. 

Name some artists you would like to be compared to.

There are many that I like but I prefer not to either flatter myself or deny others their own allusions. Perhaps some of the influence will eventually show, although I usually shun pastiches in my own work.