Santtu Mustonen – Interview

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Santtu Mustonen. He is an excellent illustrator, currently living and working in Amsterdam. He has given his time to answer our questions. So… enjoy the interview and enjoy his work…:


Hi Santtu, how are you ?
I am great! I hope the same for you!

Who are you ? Tell us more about you.
I am happily alive and most of the time my plan is to enjoy life. I am currently living and working in Amsterdam. It has been inspiring to live here, but I still want to see other places as well and at the moment I’m working hard to make it happen. I like to be and sort of have to be flexible and open to all kinds of ideas how to live my life. Problems are often a good challenge. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next, even if it may be horrifying.

What’s your interest about 3d and illustration and when did you start ?
I studied in some art and design schools which sort of messed up my mind and the methods of how to create things. Having a teacher tell me what I should do made me really unsure and uncreative. Of course there are also amazing teachers that can stimulate you and what they teach you is very important.

I studied Industrial Design, and during those studies I didn’t have any interests in learning how to use 3D programs because I always loved to make sketches, constructions and models in our real 3D world, many times I had my sweater burning and fingers injured creating stuff in a garage.

When I started doing illustrations around three years ago, I learnt all the geeky things that I needed by myself. I got interested and continue to be interested in 3D because it gives you all the possibilities to fool around in a fake fantasy world. I like the idea of bringing illustrations to life with animation tools. I think my style has a weird clash of everything, combined with analog paintings and textures, also I have unlimited amounts of materials and space, though sometimes it can be a bit aggravating. Still it feels a bit same than being in the garage.

How do you process in your work ?
It varies and depends a lot on my level of inspiration. I like to feed my brain every day with something strange. Usually my work process is simple and easy: I sketch, wonder, work and finish. Once in a while it takes a lot of try outs and a frustrating amount of time. I need to force myself to find something intriguing, but I find it always rewarding. It is a bit like product developing. I also need to do a lot of sports to concentrate on my work. When you’re running or cycling your brains give you very simple answers to hard questions, usually that is the key to success in the end.

What inspires and influences you ?
The most inspiring things are the things that are happening around me just now. I especially like to move a lot. Drifting around slowly is the best thing I know, though sometimes reality can be a bit sad and hard. I like the idea of working and sort of traveling at the same time. At the moment I am really glad to be back in Amsterdam after spending a few months in Finland in the middle of nowhere.

I also like to be aware of all the effects and experiences like rotten apples, a high speed camera or a neighbor’s chicken playing with a balloon in the garden. Those kinds of things can be good sources of inspiration. Also, I have always been interested in natural science and in physics. I could describe my works as: organic patterns and movement, combined with hand-crafted and analog textures in a three-dimensional computer-based space.

I also saw that you animate some works, it gives you another dimension to the visual ?
Yep, I am really inspired by monotonic and simple motion. I am really glad that I have found my way to bring still illustrations to life. I don’t want to think about those as animations, because they don’t really have any big narrative value. It is just an effect with a little interesting extra that fits quite well into our time, when everything is more and more digital and possibilities are growing. Composing some minimal sounds for illustrations could be fun as well for some special occasions.

What does your typical day look like ?
Usually I wake up really early, I like to have a lot of time in the mornings. I read all the possible newspapers and drink coffee. After all the stressless morning routines I love to have an aggressive bike ride to our studio, the adrenaline kick finally opens my eyes. If I am in Amsterdam I usually spend all my time at our studio even during the weekends, I like to hang out with the people I share my studio with. Regardless of whether I’m working or not, because if I’m not working I’m still most likely staring at my screen, I find it really important and try to make sure that my day includes some real sports as well. During the weekends I like to turn everything a bit upside down and get loose.

Is there something special you want to do in your work soon?
I would like to make something bigger, spatially, some kind of a set-up. I am looking forward to work for example with programmers, maybe find some new and functional aspects from illustrations.

Some projects to come ?
Always, I am very glad to work again with TSTO creative agency. But I am waiting to find quality time for really simple series of pictures that I have in my mind at the moment.

Something to add ?
Thank you very much!



/ All pictures and illustrations are © Santtu Mustonen.
/ Photo Portrait of Santtu Mustonen : © Jussi Puikkonen.
/ Interview : Dennis Moya  .  January 2012