Antti Kalevi is an illustrator and an artist living in Helsinki, creating still life moments and playing with form and colour while maintaining a level of poetry in his works. "I want to hold on to simplicity and also not to sterilise the pictures too much: staying honest to the whatever subject I'm working on", Antti explains. His clientele vary from Apple and Elle Italy to The New York Times and Samuji, just to name a few. Now he's wearing an astonishingly bright blue sweater, a colour that could easily appear in one of his works.
Lately Antti has noticed that his personal works have started to get run over by works for clients. He decided to start practicing a method that Jerry Seinfeld is said to follow: he bought a wall calendar from which he'll cross each day he has produced one picture just for himself. It's a method of creating for the sake of creating, not thinking about it too much, and simultaneously developing one's skills. "The rule is not to brake the chain", Antti explains, "though I must admit that the year has just barely started and I already have a hole in mine."
When I contacted Antti to have a chat with me about the dark period of the year, he said the timing was suiting: "this is the first winter in a while that I am staying in Finland". A couple of past years he has spent the winter in north Italy with his partner, enjoying the beautiful surroundings, amazing food – and coffee. He hasn't bumped into a decent cup of espresso anywhere else.
Past November was especially hard for Antti and he couldn't help but dream of being somewhere sunny and warm instead. "I've learned that routines are important to stay sane, especially during these dark months", he says. As a freelancer he's able to define his own timetables and has come up with a daily routine of slicing his work day into few sections. "I wake up and work from nine to eleven, then from eleven to two o'clock I go out for a walk in the woods or to have a lunch somewhere in the city", Antti explains. He wants to make the most out of the few hours of sunlight, simultaneously reflecting his ongoing projects or maybe planning on new ones. After the break he goes back home and continues on working until four or five.
‘I've learned that routines are important to stay sane, especially during these dark months.’
Antti Kalevi, 2020
Antti came up with this routine when he was in Italy and had a lot of alone time in his hands. He contemplated on what is his natural daily rhythm and what amount of time should be used on which thing to also save time for resting, preparing food and hobbies. "It's about four to five hours that one can actually concentrate on creative work", he says, "if you top that, you only tire yourself and get nothing done".
Even in this darkness, Antti currently finds it easy to find beauty in his surroundings. But it does require some work. "It is so easy to let oneself slip out of routines, not holding onto any healthy habits", he explains, "learning wholesome ways of life and routines may be a bit tricky and they're sometimes hard to maintain, but when you get there, you find happiness".