Help our followers get to know you. What does a typical day in the life of Arto and Mika involve?
Arto: After breakfast, I hit the gym, and then spend the day drawing until I have to leave for work. I'm currently a freelance illustrator and I also have a job as a supervisor at a residential care home for the mentally disabled. But whenever I have time, I draw. The illustrations for our colouring book, for example, came about when lounging on the sofa, my wife watching the television and me drawing.
Mika: Morning depends on how late the evening was, but lots of coffee is always needed to kick start the day! A morning jog helps with the stress. I spend quite lot of time in front of PC monitors working on our website, social media, marketing, and with our business partners. In the evenings, I spend my time making music and doing things by hand, like building cigar box guitars, colouring, and renovating our house.
When did you first become interested in illustrating?
Arto: I have always been interested in illustrating, and I started doing it professionally when I was about 20 years old. Ever since then, I've done illustrations and worked for advertising agencies and publishing houses.
Mika: In my teenage years I did quite a lot of drawing, but for some reason did not stick with it. I have always been interested in slightly odd and exciting drawings and images. I am so happy to work with Arto as he is an excellent artist and takes good care of the artistic side of our business.
What are your favourite things to draw?
Arto: I think my favourites are fantasy illustrations, whimsical creatures and landscapes. I draw and paint both manually and digitally. (You can check out my work at www.vividowlcoloring.com and www.3dart.fi. I like to be given assignments: illustrate this.
Where do you find inspiration?
Arto: Anywhere really, I get excited about things very easily – perhaps even too easily! Mostly, however, I'm inspired by the old master painters like Frank Frazetta, Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, John Howe, and Alan Lee, to name a few.
Mika: Music, pictures, short stories.
If you weren't an illustrator what would you be?
Arto: Well, I already am a supervisor at a care home for the mentally disabled, which is an interesting job where no two days are alike. But I would love to illustrate full time, so I could learn even more about my craft.
Mika: Were I not working on this project I would most likely be devoting my time to my music project.
Why do you think adult colouring books have become so huge?
Arto: They are beautiful, especially Johanna Basford's books – I very much like the black-and-white illustration style. As a colouring enthusiast, you get to influence what the finished image will look like by choosing which colours to add.
Mika: I think one important aspect of adult colouring is making something by hand. I believe that such hands-on creativity is a core need for a human being, plus it provides a tangible result – something smart devices and computers do not offer. Also, it's relaxing, and fun!
What does your working environment look like?
Mika: I have huge table on which sit three big PC monitors as well as a mess of papers, notes, post-it notes, pens and pencils, and sometimes a cat or two. On the side wall I have a huge picture of a nebula (Arto edited the picture for me), plus a few guitars, and my skull collection.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who/what?
Arto: Yes, music is an important part of my working environment. I listen to a wide variety of music, from Children of Bodom to Celine Dion. If the song is good, anything goes! My top four favourites, however, are definitely Queen (the first four albums + Innuendo), Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, and country music.
Mika: I do. The style of music varies quite a lot. I like to listen to blues, rock, heavy metal and doom metal, sometimes classical music too. Artists and bands I like include R.L. Burnside, John Lee Hooker, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Cramps, and Triptykon.
What are your favourite things in life?
Arto: My family, interesting work assignments, sports, and my dog. Travelling. The little things in life.
Mika: My family: girlfriend and four cats; music, working on concrete things by hand.
Finally, please give 3 words that describe your work.
Arto: Fun, spooky, Arto-like.
Mika: As the business side of the story I would use the words: exciting, systematic, refreshing.