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  • Writer's pictureHakan Öztunalı

Muted Playground w/ Aleksi Remes

The wind blows unfriendly, meadows are assembled to walk on, diminish the thoughts. I would like to introduce you Aleksi Remes, artist from Finland composes expressionism with melancholy and floral aesthetic. I prefer to keep quiet as you may interpret how they form their art in a marvelous manner. The muted playground burst forth, set foot in silence.

Aleksi Remes
(Courtesy of Aleksi Remes)

Greetings Aleksi. Thank you kindly for the participation. Would you like to tell who you are?

Aleksi: Thank you, Hakan. My name is Aleksi Remes, I am a visual artist and illustrator from Finland. I create dreamlike paintings with hints of melancholy using both traditional and digital methods, often also combining them together. In addition to freelance illustration jobs and studying for my master’s degree, I work on personal art projects and fan art of various anime and game series.

How did your footpath intersect with becoming a visual artist and illustrator?

Aleksi: I’ve always drawn ever since I can remember, often sketching my own characters and comics about them in notebooks as a child. Even at that age I knew I wanted to pursue art as a future career, but I didn’t start putting more serious practise into it until my early teens. I was mostly self-taught until reaching my adulthood when I began attending art schools and courses in fields like comic art, graphic design and classical painting which eventually led to professional opportunities.

While my initial dream was first and foremost to become a comic artist, I later realized I preferred spending time detailing larger single illustrations over drawing pages of comics in a more rapid pace. I haven’t left comics as an aspiration, as I am still working on personal projects involving sequential art, but it has taken some backseat as my own identity as an artist has become clearer over time. Regardless, stories will always remain an important aspect in my works. I generally wish to make art which has something meaningful to tell.

Do you prioritize wielding emotions for creating art, or is it undercovered?

Aleksi: I view visual art as a language to express my inner thoughts and ideas which couldn’t be accurately spoken through means like words. It is a way for me to show the part of myself which would be difficult to convey otherwise, and that does include the emotions I live through as well.

Many of my paintings depicting original concepts are inspired by bits and pieces of my personal experiences. I believe finding that kind of inspiration from within self can enhance one’s art and make it feel unique, genuine and heartfelt.

Flowers occupies a great portion of space in your work. And I can see you position them in crucial locations to fill the composition. What signifies flowers for your understanding and interpretation?

Aleksi: Yes, flowers are a prominent subject in nearly all of my works. On the purely visual side they of course serve as beautiful decorative components, and while I like to leave my art mostly open for the viewer to interpret, flowers carry a very intended meaning. They reinforce the theme which I explore in most of my personal pieces: the experience of being human.

We tend to connect different kinds of flowers with their own emotions and symbolisms. I feel that kind of behavior is in people’s inherent nature; to search and name meanings for things and by an extension, attempting to explain the unknowns of our existence. There is almost an endless amount of different kinds, sizes, shapes and colors of flowers, just like human existence comes with variety of different experiences and emotions. They also signify a sense of hope; even the negative aspects of the human experience can have a beautiful side to them.

To summarize, the presence of flowers means the presence of a human element in my artworks. Where there are flowers, there is life, alongside all the colors and complications which come with it.

I would like to talk about Hironobu Sakaguchi’s renowned Final Fantasy video game franchise. You illustrate solidified Final Fantasy characters and partially focused on drawing villains mostly. And you have published a zine named Chaos - Villains of Final Fantasy. I can feel your passion over this intensely. Do you ever thought what urges you to love the the realm of Final Fantasy?

Aleksi: My connection to Final Fantasy began with X on Playstation 2. At the time It felt like a very mysterious game with its captivating world, characters and music, but also its plot which didn’t give many direct or easy answers. I think that element of mystery and the series’ ability to surprise is what keeps me drawn towards it. Many of the stories of Final Fantasy aren’t built into a very conventional mold and they aren’t afraid to leave things a little ambiguous, which I really appreciate.

Later I also found Yoshitaka Amano’s illustrations for the series, which served as a very foundational source of inspiration and attached me even deeper into FF. I love his dreamlike atmospheres, use of color, dynamic movement of shapes and melancholic characters. I wish to be able to capture a bit of that kind of magic and become even half as good of an artist as him.

As you noted, I tend to put much focus on the villain characters. In addition to their interesting character arcs, my preference also comes down to their darker and often even surreal designs. Especially in the case of my fan illustrations, inspiration can strike from simply finding a character’s design visually cool. This in fact happened with one of my more popular paintings which depicts Zenos from Final Fantasy XIV. I haven’t even reached the point in the game where he appears, but I still had the urge to paint him just based on his aesthetics and energy.

Aleksi Remes
(Courtesy of Aleksi Remes - End is Near)

‘End is Near’ art piece overly impressed me. I am inquisitive if there is a backstory?

Aleksi: I’m glad you enjoyed the painting! Like I discussed earlier, flowers represent the theme of humanity in my art. In “End is Near” this concept takes a darker twist as the character wants to escape her own suffocating emotions and experiences yet cannot do so as she is ultimately rooted in them. The painting itself is actually related to my work-in-progress graphic novel which talks similarly about the painful side of existence and coming to terms with it.

My other two paintings in the same “series” (“Anxiety” and “Life”) explore very similar ideas as well. Coincidentally, I painted all three of them while going through difficult periods in my own life. I wouldn’t like to reinforce the stereotype of a “suffering artist creating their best works” which can portray an overly simplified view of the actual creative process, but in my own personal case, I’ve often felt at my most creative during the tougher times. I guess it goes back to the earlier topic of how much emotions fuel my art.

What do you think about drifting away in life? Is it okay to be fade to uncover a pending potential?

Aleksi: I believe that at times it is necessary to escape one’s daily life and give yourself room for rest, introspection and new experiences. Change is the first step towards self-improvement, and when you allow yourself that, you often come back stronger and more motivated than before.

As such, drifting away from time to time is an essential part of the artistic process for me. When I find myself exhausted, one of the methods I use to take an escape is by travelling. Seeing new places, meeting new people and getting outside of the usual environments and comfort zones can be immensely eye-opening.

I think it’s important to gain new perspectives to increase one’s understanding of the world and also strengthen one’s vision not only for art, but life in general.

What influences you in a general aspect?

Aleksi: There are honestly countless inspiring pieces of media which I could list, but I will highlight a few major ones. Shadow of the Colossus may very well have left the largest impact on me over any other game. Its quiet atmosphere and minimalist yet thought-provoking story had a very profound effect on my artistic approaches. Next to Final Fantasy, Xenoblade Chronicles is another one of my currently favorite game series. It is one of the few game titles I know which is willing to challenge and tackle heavy philosophical questions about the nature of life. I have yet to give its origin entry, Xenogears, a proper try, but I have the strong feeling that once I do so, it might also turn into a favorite.

Anime such as Angel’s Egg, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Neon Genesis Evangelion and many of Studio Ghibli’s productions have colored my own artistic tastes and love for the subtler kind of narrative. More recently I have been revisiting one of my childhood favorites, Yu-Gi-Oh. I especially feel inspired by the ancient Egyptian aesthetics of the original manga series and would like to explore it in my own art, maybe by painting some of the deities from the vast pantheon of ancient Egypt.

Fist of the North Star is another series which significantly influenced my art during my formative years. Underneath its action-heavy surface is a very empowering message about finding strength from one’s emotional openness and in the ability to show vulnerability. I like to think the influence of that philosophy still remains in my works, even if the connection may not be as overtly direct nowadays.

Aleksi, I would like to hear your final thoughts and anything you need to mention..

Aleksi: Thank you very much for the interview! It isn’t often I get the chance to talk about the specifics of my art, its creation process and my inspirations, so I really enjoyed answering your questions and I’m happy to have been able to contribute to the blog.

For every artist reading this, I would like to end with a quote of an old friend of mine: “when people create art which comes from a genuine place, from their heart, it usually turns out good”. That may sound self-explanatory, but it’s something which is often easy to forget in this age of social media when the outside pressure from audiences is at its largest. I believe those words have a lot of truth and are worth holding on to. Keep creating the kind of art you feel passionate about, good things will happen.

Aleksi Remes
(Courtesy of Aleksi Remes)


Official IG page of Aleksi Remes, tap @aleksiremesart

Official shop & portfolio page of Aleksi Remes, tap aleksiremes


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