You probably came across multi-talented Lotta Nieminen‘s illustration before while you were scheduling your week on Google Calendar. Her illustrations are whimsical and create additional context to the activities and dates based on a Google user’s activities. Her work was featured in a wide range of media for clients like Google, New York Times, and IBM. It is rare to see an illustrator’s work so cross-functional as Lotta Nieminen’s.
Graphic Design and Illustration was not her original career path. From Helsinki, Finland, the child of two other creative individuals wanted to explore a career path that she felt was more practical and radically different from her parents. As time passed, she realized it was foolish that she ignore her talents and decided to pursue it further. Nieminen enrolled in University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Rhode Island School of Design. At Rhode Island School of Design, she was able to immerse herself in illustration and received an internship with Pentagram. Illustration was always something that came natural to her, but was not a pursuit.
I’ve always done it in addition to working as a full-time graphic designer—I’ve never freelanced full-time. How I ended up doing illustration was because at the university in Helsinki, we had these bi-annual portfolio reviews and visiting lecturers would come and give us feedback on our work. There was an art director from a Finnish magazine and she saw my sketchbook and said, “Hey, have you ever thought of doing illustrations? I’d love to commission one from you.” I thought it sounded fun and that’s how my illustration career started.