MURAL FOR THE DAY OF FINLAND
8,2 m x 4,8m, 6 days, 2 artists, enormous amount of coffee
An annual festival Day of Finland takes place in May in Sevkabel Port, Saint Petersburg. For the festival purpose, the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg together with Aalto university invited me and my friend and fellow illustrator Teo Georgiev to create a colourful mural on one of the street walls of Sevkabel Port buildings.
preliminary work / raw sketch
We met with Teoto create sketches and discuss possible ways to solve the task.
What was the task?
“The mural should reflect Finland without the clichés of sauna, sisu or Kalevala. Also, it should in some way mention the Finnish Institute and Aalto university.”
And here is a small comic I drew about our preliminary work*
*Actually, there was no payment. Only travel costs and materials were covered. So don’t have an illusion, that we became rich because of this project. But we definitely gonna be in history now. For sure.
final sketch and colours
We started playing with the task's wording about the "Spirit of Finland". So our idea is to show Finland in delicate way via 2 "spirits". Through them we wanted to present the strong relationship and heritage that Finnish culture has with the nature, the evergreen woods, and the lakes. But we also wanted to mix that with the vibrant urban life and curiosity. In the mural we tried to illustrate symbols such as the Northern lights, coffee, Helsinki Cathedral, and others.
The logos of Aalto Uni and The Finnish Institute are also were integrated in composition.
our color palette
We had huge scaffolding, the height of the wall is more than 8 meters, and it is almost 5 meters wide. All the fears of becoming very athletic were fully confirmed, only on that first day we climbed the scaffolding so much that our legs became wadded and our hands ached a bit.
We outlined a sketch, began to work with paints, made the basics of our characters.
We have been working since 9.30 in the morning. Had time to go through all parts of the painting. Teo and I have a slightly different approach: he paints a little here, a little there, draws a little bit of trees, stops to paint the beard, comes back: it is important for him to cover everything in parts so as not to lose the whole. I methodically paint the subject after the subject: a separate booklet, a separate cup, a separate nose and move on to the next, as a rule, only when I finish the previous one. Regardless of the approach, the painting grows well in all directions.
Also it was a cold day, only +10 outside.
We had problems with materials that were stolen from the warehouse. But we still managed to work.
I spent a few hours creating the illusion of smooth lines, brick wall is a really tricky surface.
And it took another hour to cover a particularly stubborn and porous piece of wall with black paint.
I spent most of the day with the top of the mural, there are a lot of straight lines and a very bad brick, so it took hours and hours. Plus, it was necessary to draw a Ferris wheel, and it was a quite difficult to do when you can not step back and check if everything is ok or not.
It was a last working day for Teo, since he had to leave to Helsinki earlier. He did his best to finish as much as possible on his side of the wall.
I walked Teo to the train and went back to work in Sevcable Port
The mural was on the final stage, but there was still a lot to do.
My character got an eye and glasses, the Sibelius monument had grown to the desired size plus I added the basis for several more details.
It was a day that tested me for strength:
I dropped a can of paint on my leg, trying to bring all the materials to my place of work, crawled under the scaffolding and practically lay on the ground to first write my name under work, and then Teo’s full name, breathed spray paint while I was working with stencils, got sunburned, drew the stars in a panic (ironically) before the sunset.
But I did it! And I was extremely happy that we had completed this awesome project!
you can find this piece here:
Kozhevennaya Liniya 40D
Saint-Peterburg, Russia, 199106
photos by: Rustam Kotov