Every year we ask an artist in the Busy Beaver community to curate a group of creators to be a part of a limited edition series. This series has been dubbed the “Button-O-Matic Artist Series”, after the type of the vending machines through which these custom made buttons are distributed. Each year, chosen artists respond to a new theme: from “Superhero to “Bestiary.” The 2016 “Happy Hour”-themed series was curated by Clay Hickson of Tan & Loose Press. Clay invited illustrators from around the world to contribute a 1 inch round button design which was then printed with a Risograph machine and ultimately pressed into these little pin buttons. (Fun fact: 2016’s artist series buttons were the first to be printed with a special printing process too!)
Before the exclusive series is released into the wild by way of the Bust Beaver Button-O-Matic machines, we throw a release party. This year, we opened the doors of our new building and invited our friends, family, and neighbors in to preview all of the buttons in the series—as well as enjoy an appropriate happy hour beverage courtesy of Parce Rum and Off Color Brewery. After the festivities of the opening settled, we distribute the series into our Button-O-Matic machines for the entire city to enjoy.
We caught up with London-based illustrator and designer Annu Kilpeläinen, about her happy and bright addition to this year’s Button-O-Matic series.
Annu originally grew up in the thick of Finland’s country side. Thinking Helsinki was too large of a city to explore, her art career brought her to the UK to study at the University of the Arts London LCC.
How did you begin illustrating and printing? How you were you initially attracted to risograph printing?
I illustrated magazines I made myself when I was about 6, then studied illustration and got into testing all kinds of printing techniques. I got interested in riso through Clay actually, by being in the Tanlines show and then doing a Rally zine through Tan&Loose press.
How did your colorful and bright illustrative style come about, and can you recall any direct influences?
Colours came along the way. While studying I did some super detailed black and white drawings and watercolours and pencils, a bit of everything, you can find more about it here The Guidr. I think after trying on some blocky screen prints, and after working in a biscuit factory making candy colour biscuits the colours started to creep in. Now I do a lot of abstract, loose sketches with lots of different colours to see how they work together and then apply these to the illustrations.
The colors in your pin back design are very complimentary! How does your button design relate to the series’s theme, “Happy Hour?”
Well ‘Happy Hour” is like the start of a great night ahead, hence the sunrise in my mouth.
When do you feel you get your best work done?
I work best during mornings and afternoons but the best ideas come at late night. My sketchbook is full of very bad midnight scribbles, but theres always winners there too.
Favorite Happy-Hour beverage?
Espresso Martini, but it can be lethal! One is good, as you really don’t need more caffeine. And then a good old pint of beer.
What advice would you give to help get yourself out of a creative block?
Good dance, in my room or out and about. Sleeping and walking is good too, instead of stuffing more things into your brain sometimes it’s good to give it a little break.
How do you celebrate completed projects?
I have been working on lots of small projects at the moment, so it would be dangerous to celebrate everything. But I reward myself a lot; its usually with just buying an exotic fruit or fancy cheese. So yeah, I celebrate with food and drinks.
How does it make you feel when someone asks you, “What’s next?”
Depends who is asking. I know from my mom it’s like “I believe in you but give me some facts and numbers,” and from blog posts it is like “show us a rainbow of exiting new experimental projects.” But generally it makes me feel good as it is good to always be thinking of the next thing.
Our 2016 Button-O-Matic Artist Series “Happy Hour” is now exclusively available as a full set in our gift shop. Grab Annu’s design, as well as all of the other ten risographed buttons!