Win a Leeds Inspired poster designed by Johanna Harma
Johanna Harma is a Finnish illustrator now based in Leeds, who was recently commissioned by Leeds Inspired to help promote their fabulous cultural listings site. Wendy Denman chatted to Johanna about Moomins, Yorkshire pudding trees, Leeds colours and the joy of silliness. You can win one of her lovely posters too, if you’re lucky.
The plant you’ve drawn for Leeds Inspired is going crazy in a ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ fashion. Is it as friendly as it looks?
When I did the initial sketches for the Leeds Inspired poster it was still summer, and I got a lot of inspiration for it visiting parks and gardens around Leeds (like the gardens of Harewood House), and long Sunday walks on the canal. The plant represents all the fun and inspiring things going on around Leeds, it’s very friendly and exotic – but not carnivorous.
It’s clear to see you’re a big fan of nature. If you could grow anything on a tree, what would it be?
I’d like a tree under my window in Leeds that would grow all Finnish foods that I miss, like salty liquorice, ryebread and lingonberries. But then when I go home on holiday I’d take it along and it would grow English treats, like Yorkshire puddings, Cornish pasties and rhubarb crumble.
You’ve been based in the UK for a few years now. Have you found many similarities between Yorkshire and Finland?
People in Yorkshire are lovely, very down-to-earth and honest like most Finns. When I was a kid my mum used to watch Emmerdale, so I got used to the Yorkshire accent a little. Leeds has a great creative vibe and a lot going on to get inspired by, but a lot of my work is still influenced by what’s happening in Finland as well as Yorkshire. I love the simplicity and functionality mixed with a quirkiness that you see in Finnish design and illustration.
I love the bold colours you’ve used on the poster. If you had to describe Leeds as a colour, which would it be and why?
When I first came to Leeds what I loved instantly were the old red brick buildings around Leeds University campus, there was something romantic and very English about it. So a ‘Leeds colour’ that comes to mind would be a brick colour, burnt orange?
Your illustrations have a very dreamlike feel to them. Have you ever drawn a character you’ve fallen in love with, or a place you feel you just have to visit?
I had a phase a little while ago when I drew a lot of strange, sort of abstract worlds, mountains and patterns. I think the dreamlike style comes from watching the Moomins constantly when I was a kid! I’d like to visit one of these valleys between huge purple mountains, because around my hometown the landscape is quite flat, surrounded by lakes and forests.
Tell us about something exciting you’re involved with!
Last year I got into screen-printing at Inc Workshop in Leeds. It’s a great place to go print some of my illustration work. I’ve got a poster design and some cards that I really need to go screen print soon! I’m always covered in ink afterwards, but the whole process is so satisfying and suits my bold and colourful illustration style well. I’ve also recently taken up learning cinema4D (3D software), which is mind-boggling but will be great when I know it better.
Friendly Finn, Double Gin, Silly Grin or Identical Twin?
A friendly-doubley-silly Finn. Double gin could be good too after a long day, but what’s more relaxing than being silly?
For your chance to win one of ten of these inspiring A3 posters, please answer the question about the picture in the comments box below.
Q: Where’s the best place in Leeds for a roof garden and why?
The closing date for entries is Wednesday 20 February at midday. Winners will be announced later that day on the website. Good luck!
Tags: art, culture, Johanna Harma, leeds, Leeds Inspired