Instagram is a never-ceasing source of inspiration to me and has allowed me to discover a variety of artists of all branches. One of my most recent discoveries is Mira Johanna Väänänen, a 28-year-old illustrator from Finland. Mira Johanna’s specialty is pen and ink, and her style resonates with the aesthetics of art noveau, but with a dark twist – comparable to the works of Aubrey Beardsley (just without the pornography) or Harry Clarke. For you, dear readers, I picked ten works of Mira Johanna – and the choice was tough, for there is not a single work of her I have not instantly fallen for.
Mira Johanna’s black outlines are strong yet delicate at the same time. Bold black patches oppose the richness of detail. Also, the steady, accurate lines are complemented by some dotwork, which I’d say is a contemporary influence on Mira Johanna’s style of drawing. The minuscule dots contrast the boldness of black ink on white paper and bestow Mira Johanna’s illustrations with a delicacy of some sorts.
Mira Johanna describes her artistic awakening as follows:
“I drew for the first time with a dip pen at school art class when I was about 15 years old. We were given a dip pen and a bottle of ink, and we were told to draw something in the style of Mauri Kunnas, who is a famous Finnish children’s book author and illustrator. It just felt very easy and natural from the beginning. Later I saw artists like Aubrey Beardsley, Harry Clarke and Alastair. They all have influenced my style ever since.”
Mira Johanna’s subject is women, portrayed together with death or symbols relating to mortality. Sometimes, death is depicted seductive, tempting the women – sometimes the women appear triumphant, prevailing over death. Either way – Mira Johanna’s work is full of existential emotions.
Occasionally, Mira Johannes experiments with watercolour. The blurred pastel colours stand in striking contrast to her other work. Still, you can find traces of black in shades of mauve or blue, adding that touch of melancholia to the watercolours that is inherent in the black-and-white pen illustrations too.
Please do me a favour and follow Mira Johanna Väänänen on Instagram. You won’t be disappointed, promised!
~ Lisa v. D.