Interview with Award Winning Finnish Graphic Artist Petri Hiltunen

Hiltunen 1Petri Hiltunen (born 13 October 1967) is a Finnish cartoonist and illustrator. He has produced work in a variety of genres, including newspaper comics, cartoons, caricatures, commercials, storyboards, layouts, character design, schoolbook illustrations, tattoos, magazine illustrations, writing, lecturing and teaching, but is most notable for his fantasy and horror graphic novels and book illustration. He has won the prestigious Puupäähattu award in 2002, which is regarded as the highest honour for Finnish comic artists. He is also a well-known figure in Finnish science fiction fandom. He admits being a fanboy and to collecting toys, view master discs, movie props, skulls and fossils. Because of this he is a regular panellist and guest of honour at conventions, such as Finncon.

His own comic albums include the horror/fantasy tale Laulu yön lapsista (“Song of the children of the night”), exploring the vampire folklore of 1562 Russia during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, and a graphic novel version of Macbeth. The fantasy world of Jaconia, created for his Praedor comics, has been adapted into a role-playing game of the same name. He has also published the newspaper comic strip Väinämöisen paluu (“The Return of Väinämöinen”), published in many major newspapers and as comic books. In it, he tells the story of Sage of Kalevala when he decides to ends his self-imposed exile and his effort to adjust to modern Finland.

His album Harmaan Jumalan Hetki (based on the Robert E. Howard story “The grey god passes”) has being translated into aur.maalaus1Spanish as El Crepúsculo del Dios Gris.

His drawing style is quite detailed, particularly with his characters, and features heavy lines. He works in a very traditional way, with pen and paper, and using the computer only for finishing touches.

Tanya Tynjälä for Amazing Stories: You confess to working in a traditional way. Have you also a traditional background?”

Petri Hiltunen: No, I don’t think so. I don’t really have any education; I’m more like self made man from Finnish countryside. (Unless that IS” a traditional background”…) I went to art high school (Savonlinnan Taidelukio) but never studied further. I started doing commercial work while yet in high school, in 1985.

AS: How do you describe your style?

PH: Classic. Someone might even say retro. I really dig those old time masters, from Piranesi to Frazetta.

AS: Do you have some recurrent themes in your work?

PH: Violence and the dark side of humanity. Science and light side of humanity and also Black humour.

AS: How important is Finnish mythology for you?”

PH: I love it, but I would not call it that important. It’s just one thing among others. There is so much in the world to love.

AS: You have participated in the project Taide Teossa (1). Do you always participate in solidarity projects?

PH: Yes, when I can.

AS: How important do you think is for an artist to be engage with his society?”

PH: Very important. There are precious few opportunities to make the world a better place, better seize every one as they come along.

AS: What are your next projects?”

PH: Praedor album,”Great Wolf of the Sky.”

AS: Are you going to publish something else in Spanish?”

PH: At this point there are no plans, but I would love to.

His webpage: Petri Hiltunen

(1)Taide teossa (Art in action) was a charity event, kick-started by Finnish comic creators and illustrators. The artists have contributed their original artwork and prints, and all income will be donated to the Red Cross to aid their work in helping refugees during the Syrian conflict. The web store was open from 14th to 30th of September 2015.

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