I was invited to produce an artwork at the new Pihkoo elementary school located in Kotka, Finland. After getting acquainted with the school's faculty, students, and getting familiar with the building's architectural drawings I proposed a collection of wall paintings, each accompanied by a spirit animal that represents one of the grade levels at the school. The pieces were painted onto the walls of the communal area where the students have their lunch and spend time together outside of classes.

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My style of combining typography and illustration had impressed the arts council in the selection phase. This led me to create three text-based illustrations. These pieces include messages that hopefully inspire both the students and staff in their everyday activities. The messages are presented in three distinct languages, all of which are taught at the school at various grade levels.

They say curiosity fuels the flame of learning. I chose "Explore Your world" as the title for the whole piece as I think it's elemental for the new generation to approach the world with an open mind, free from excessive reliance on the past.

"Find your superpower". Everyone possesses a superpower, which I believe is more often a result of their passions and diligent efforts, rather than any innate talent that anyone's born with.

"Cheer on a friend". Everyone needs a pat on the back every now and then. This might be more true now than ever, particularly in today's competitive academic and professional environments.

from vector to paintings

I first sketched and drew the illustration motifs in vector, which were then projected on the walls and painted over. I also modeled the space in 3D based on architectural drawings in order to anticipate the space which was in still its initial stages of construction when I started doing the artworks.

detail shots

It could be argued that the precision of line work on a large-scale artwork may not be crucial since it is typically viewed from a distance. However, in a setting like this where the audience has an extended and closer encounter with the art pieces, I believed that it was necessary to paint every detail with great care and attention.

client feedback

"Together with Ville, we got to experience an actionable creation of a series of unique artworks. Early on, Ville found a student-centered way of working and was great with the students. For us, the unique pieces bubble with pedagogical community and enterprising spirit. Thank you Ville for an exuberant artwork and a broad-banding collaboration."

- Niko Kaukovalta, Headmaster,
Pihkoo elementary school

additional credits
Noora Saria
Ilkka Vuorinen
Ville Salervo
City of Kotka