Who are You as an artist?

Written by Antti Leppilampi and Silja Suntola

How do You evaluate the equation between artistic passion, ethics, values, and making a living? Or do you find yourself battling between keeping your artistic integrity and doing business?

In these fields, ready or steady jobs are far and few between, along with decreasing public funding. This is also true for NGO’s. The politicians look increasingly for entrepreneurship as the answer. Throughout history, the revenue logics for arts and culture have changed and shifted. They have also constantly had to find new ways of finding revenue models – as is happening now with the burst of digital media. Support for arts has ranged from kings and queens, the church, public funding, sponsorship as well as pure entrepreneurshipOr a mix of all of them.


We have to creatively think of new revenue patterns again (mixing different forms of funding, where business schools don’t always help). Asartists, as we’ve done in the past. It’s an eternal puzzle, where one often needs to balance. 

In our post-industrial era, cultural competences and creativity are acknowledged key factors for adding competitiveness in the general economy in any sector. For this to happen, we need to re-examine how we define ourselves as artists again. 

Before you jump into the advice from Finnish experts, remember –

The society is yearning for innovation and creativity. Where are you in the equation?  


7 tips for students from Finland


Antti Harjuoja – Photo by Aki Rask

1. Find your own way and show your expertise (Antti Harjuoja, Milestone)

Antti Harjuoja, who works as a Culture Designer at Milestone spoke about how students, who are about to graduate should use their creativity when finding work. “The old fashioned way of sending your CV and an open letter is still used a lot, but do people really know what they get, when they check out your video / letter application and your CV and meet you 1 on 1?” What different approach could people use, to get into “try out – phase” and show the employer what kind of person he or she is?


Piia Kleimola – Photo by Johannes Wiehn

2. Use time to get to know your peers (Piia Kleimola, Safe Country – play)

People often jump early to work, without spending enough time getting to know their peers. Creative artist Piia Kleimola learned that through a hard way when she started making a play about asylum seekers lives in the Middle East together with Finnish people and actual asylum seekers.

“There was like an inner challenge with our working group. How to get all this through, and what will we achieve with this play. Our working group was a little nervous, but I guess, I was the most nervous – thinking, Do I really have the guts to do this all.”

They focused a lot on the group building, because especially with a group like this, it’s crucial to build a culture of encounter, with a possibility to listen and face each asylum seeker individually and build a safety net among them. The play got lots of great reviews in the end, but Piia said that the thing she was most happy about was that the project gave birth to many great friendships that still last. Even one love story with a new baby.


Antti Luusuaniemi – Photo by Lili Zoe Ermezei

3. If you have an idea, be brave and go forward (Antti Luusuaniemi, Red Carpet Film Festival)

Antti Luusuaniemi was thinking that we need to have a festival for Finnish movie makers. One year after having that idea, he organized the first Red Carpet Film Festival in Finland, which got together 20 000 attendees. Antti told in an interview that one of the biggest reasons for the event’s success was the team behind him. He also gave an advice for students to be brave with their ideas and go forward with them, and if the idea works or not, learn why it did or didn’t.


Antti Viitanen – Photo by Tapio Auvinen

4. Remember to participate, when doing group work (Antti Viitanen, Ship Festival)

Ship Startup Festival connects the next generation of entrepreneurs with mentors around the world together. Antti Viitanen, who has been in charge of the festival for 3 years ones said that the biggest learning from the festival is that, “when building a team we need to participate the members of the team as much as possible.”

The motivation rises, when people can influence on the work they are doing. This is sometimes easier said than done. When doing group work, we need to make sure that everyone in the group has said, what they want to say. Often when we see groups working, it’s the social one’s who take care of speaking and ideating, but we need to make sure that we don’t miss any silent information. When all the planning is being done, the team takes care of the framework and the participants build the content.


Suvi Pylvänen – Photo by Darcmedia OY

5. Always keep the focus (Suvi Pylvänen, XAMK)

If you have a clear focus on what you want to do, remember to keep it. Our world is filled with work so it’s easy to lose the focus on what’s the most important thing for you. When there’s too many goals and aims, we do sometimes too much, which is not in line with the main goal. This is something that Suvi Pylvänen – a lecturer from XAMK – University of Applied Sciences told me. In the end, goal and the focus should be small enough to get something with high quality out.


Aleksanteri Repo – Photo by Hertta Oksanen

6. Give time for yourself. Business is not everything (Aleksanteri Repo, Viiraamo)

It’s easy to get caught in the busy life of arranging things. Sometimes you have to stop. Take a free day off, enjoy the day and then you have more positive energy to give others. That was said by the owner of Hub Kouvola, which is a co-working space for professionals and aspiring talents to network, create and enjoy. Aleksanteri has been doing lots of work for building this kind of community and the hub. Always when we have visited Hub Kouvola and Aleksanteri has been there, we have noticed that he greets all the people who come in with a smile in his face and it must be that he has a great work – life balance to keep up the positive energy.


Sabine Suorsa – Photo by Sabine Suorsa

7. Remember to keep an open mindset (Sabine Suorsa, Startup Passion)

Let’s face it, we have to work a lot in life. But when we look at the life with an open mindset, it gets a lot more fun! We have to work like hell sometimes, we have to get along with different kinds of people and we need to learn something new every day.

Sabine Suorsa is the project manager of Startup Passion project in Finland, which purpose is to raise the startup culture and startup ecosystem of students living in Finland, Estonia and Latvia.

The project won a price as the best entrepreneurship education act last year in Finland. The sentences above tell about Sabine’s open mindset and the way how we shouldn’t have titles anymore at work, just people who are on the same side and the same team. Who are You as an individual? Are You an ideator, creator, doer or manager in different projects? If we solve those questions, we have come a long way.


This article was inspired and based on seven Finnish creative experts. There was a variety of creative , ie. a  culture designer, creative artist, an actor, two startup gurus, a hub leader and a lecturer from University of applied Sciences Xamk, creative industries team.



2 thoughts on “Who are You as an artist?

  1. Corpely.com says:

    Artists For Humanity (AFH) s mission is to provide under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. AFH is built on the philosophy that engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people. Bridging economic, racial, and social divisions, AFH enriches urban communities by introducing young people s creativity to diverse businesses.?

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