Helsinki, Finland native Sami Viljanto is one of the artists behind the limited edition t-shirt designs for The Fableists (see Sami’s collection here). We asked him a few questions about how these images came to be. We think that you’ll agree that Mr Viljanto is not only very talented but very, very silly.
Sami is represented for illustration work by Rare Bird London.
The Fableists > Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you start, where do you come from?
Sami > When I was six, I was captured by a two-eyed giant, who lived on top of a mountain, in a cottage made out of raccoon flavoured Digestive biscuits. The place had no television, so he made me draw imaginary Matlock stories over and over. Then one day I was able to eat myself out, but as a result I can’t stand the taste of Digestive biscuit, and haven’t eaten them ever again.
The Fableists > What or who inspires your day-to-day work?
Sami > I have a German pet fox called Heinrich, who’s been lately having a hard time finding a job – apparently because of the language barrier. So, I’ve promised to pay for his language school. It’s not entirely cheap and – between us – I must say he isn’t really showing much of progression, but what I really respect and what inspires me every day, is his courage and mental strength to keep on trying, no matter what the others say.
The Fableists > Would you say you draw every day?
Sami > I haven’t always been that wise, but I guess I’m slowly starting to learn the lesson. I try to start every morning with a cup of coffee and a page of mindless doodling. I keep on saying it’s because I want to be a better illustrator, but it’s probably just because the close-by coffee shop has such good coffees.
The Fableists > Where are we most likely to find your work? Is it mostly in the medium of advertising, magazine, print work, online or other?
Sami > I’d say 40% are editorials, 20% advertising, 20% print and 20% is so top secret even I don’t know what it consists of. Do those add up to 100%? I copy-pasted it straight from my excel sheet of statistics.
The Fableists > What were the inspirations behind the designs you created for us?
Sami > I’ve been really interested in tattoos for years, and been trying to bring something from that aesthetic to my illustrations. Since I might never be brave enough to actually start tattooing people, these Fableists designs might be the closest I’ll ever get to that. I guess the theme also represents the level of permanence that I wish our clothing and gadgets could have.
The Fableists > What’s your feeling about The Fableists? Do you think there should be more people doing what we are?
Sami > I think it’s exactly the right way to go. Actuall,y it makes me angry that it’s still a marginal choice to buy things that are made ethically and environmentally, whereas it should really be the only option available. Like those warning pictures in cigarette packs, there should be ones in your t-shirt, so you’d actually see the person who worked 16 hours a day for you to get that new jacket for 10 pounds, ‘cos you’re too lazy to wash the previous one.
The Fableists > If you could work for anyone, who would it be? Do you have a dream client?
Sami > Hmm. First one that comes to mind is Michel Gondry. I don’t really know what we would do, but he just feels like a person that would be really interesting to work with. Other than that, I like to work with whoever concentrates on the quality, not just getting it done and moving on. Oh and MacGyver! It’s so good to work with people who don’t complain about every obstacle that comes along the way, but rather just take it easy and solve the problem.
The Fableists > Do you have a particular client that keeps coming back?
Sami > I have a couple of local magazines that have been kind enough to keep commissioning me multiple times.
The Fableists > Are there any places in the world that make you feel creative?
Sami > I think what inspires me most is change. So it’s not really that much about the actual place, but the change in contrast to the previous one. Does this make any sense?
The Fableists > If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Sami > I have to admit, that I wasn’t entirely honest in the first question, and must say that I regret lying to you guys straight up in the beginning. So, to change one thing, I would correct that, and like to state now, that I do still eat Digestive biscuits. Sorry about that. [It’s okay, Sami. You’re forgiven, Love The Fableists]