Even artists need routines

We had a chat with an alumnus from the Academy of Fine Arts, painter Ilari Hautamäki (b. 1983). Here are Ilari’s thoughts on what his student years were like and how he transitioned into his career as an artist.

What did you study?
- I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, in the Painting study programme.

When did you graduate?
- I graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in December 2011.

How has your career as an artist developed after graduation?
- After graduation I got myself a working space in Hernesaari with a few fellow graduates and continued where I left off.

What was it like to transition into being an independent artist?
- The transition felt natural, I was starting to run out of space and fresh air at the academy, but I was still interested in making art. It felt easier because I had agreed on an upcoming solo exhibition with the Korjaamo Gallery after my MFA exhibition. It didn’t take much to get going because I had clear goal set in the future.

What kind of skills does your current method of making art require?
- My way of creating fine arts requires an open mind, determination and perseverance. I need to drag myself to the studio even when I don’t feel like it. I learned about material studies and gained basic knowledge and experience of technical aspects of painting during my years as a student. Sometimes I use image editing software to design my paintings, and learning to use the programmes eats up a lot of time.

Do you wish that you had some skills that you didn’t acquire as a student?
- Right now I wish I had better skills in using image editing software. I only had the time to take the mandatory basic courses, but now it would have been useful if I had taken advanced studies.

In what way can students prepare themselves for life after graduation already in their studies?
- Above all, it’s essential to have certain routines when it comes to your working style, and it’s worth adopting them already as a student. Freedom is definitely a part of an artist’s professional image. In many ways, this freedom leads to a lot of uncertainty, for example financially and professionally; it’s important to know how to prepare for it and remember that nobody can take away your own freedom to work.

What kind of advice do you have for current students?
- It’s worth trying out things and making use of the opportunities that the school offers as much as possible, because your years as a student are a great time to experiment and figure things out. Be prepared and come to terms with the fact that the same process of experimenting and figuring things out will continue even after graduating.

What kind of memories do you have from your time as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts?
- My studies at the Academy were like a roller coaster ride. At first, everything was new and exciting, then soon I started to get the hang of things. After that, I had moments ranging from happy, surprising, awkward, humiliating, and devastating all the way to constructive and empowering feelings of success. I think that most of the students go through a similar cycle during their studies – you go up and down and through the whole emotional scale and finally you make it to the finish line as a winner. In hindsight, studying was like getting a five-year grant, and as a bonus, you had the best experts in your field helping you in the right place.

Read more on Ilari’s work as an artist at www.ilarihautamaki.com