Miika Saksi is a self-taught creative director with a strong vision from concept development, graphic design and aesthetics, to digital design and it’s applications. He has been working as a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, stylist, writer and a film maker since 1995. Currently Miika is working together with his colleague, designer Tiia Vanhatapio. The design duo’s collaboration started in late 2011 — focusing on brand profiling, design cases, commercial film production and visual identities. Check out the exclusive interview below and find out more about the unorthodox Creative Agency Vanhatapio & Saksi www.vanhatapiosaksi.com.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
30-something, self-taught, creative, multitalented dude from Helsinki, Finland.
Whom do you look up to?
I look up to productive people who get a lot of things done, can present themselves clearly in front of a crowd, yet remain creative and make business out of it. That is a very rare combination in one person.
What made you want to become an artist?
I think I was 15 when I saw David Fincher’s Seven, twice in one night and thought to myself that some day I wanted to be a movie director like him. At that moment I realised that it wasn’t the actors who made the movie, but the director. I wanted a piece of that action. After that I saw everything in a slightly different perspective. David Fincher still remains my favourite director.
Are there any personalities that have contributed to your successful career path?
I don’t think there has been any one person being the biggest influence to me as a designer, but I’ve got tremendous help from my dad. He was the one who encouraged me to drop from school when I was 15 and to start working as a graphic designer. Now, almost 20 years later we both think it was absolutely the right decision at that time.
What was your favourite project and why?
I like to think my favourite project is yet to come. Many projects have been feeling the best in the beginning and during, but afterwards I’m always disappointed of my own work. I could always try harder, do more and be better. One of the most interesting jobs have been this Tiia Vanhatapio by Seppälä collaboration we did with my colleague and designer Tiia Vanhatapio few years back. Seppälä is like a Finnish H&M. In that project, we were asked to create something different than what was expected from Seppälä by their customers. We (mostly Tiia) designed clothing and accessories collection, we sourced the manufacturer and the materials from China and Estonia, we designed the visual identity and all the marketing material and used super talented Jesse Laitinen from Stockholm for the editorial shoots. We directed the tv- and online films and we even composed the music for the film with the awesome Kalle Wahlberg from the band Helsinki 78-82. We held the release party, designed the campaign web site, made the store window displays, etc. Basically we did everything from the scratch. It was really interesting to do such a huge project mostly by our own and with very little restrictions.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as an artist?
Maybe the problem that I suck at selling myself. That’s why I’m one of the founders in this brand new Scandinavian creative talent management called North Department. We represent and help creative talents as photographers, stylists, art directors, etc. who are specialised in fashion and lifestyle. Also one really difficult thing is to stop working on something. For example to make a decision when the picture is ready. Always after a night sleep you see parts of the image you would like to change. It’s an endless road.
How do you define creativity?
When you look at things and you don’t see just a thing, but you see a potential.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
I believe in good taste. I teach about it at the Helsinki Design School for graphic design students, but my recent tattoo is a mirrored text “Make it a habit” on my chest. I see it always when I look at myself from the mirror after shower. If you want to change your life, do it by making the better way a habit, one thing at a time. It’s harder to break habits.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Work hard, be willing to work for free, if you don’t have a good taste, learn about it. Be a nice guy. Everybody likes to work with nice people, even if they are not the best in their jobs.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
Simple really is beautiful. Really. Not just the saying, but the actual thought behind it. Everything can be simplified so much.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for art?
I don’t think it would stay out, even if I tried, but maybe for a perfect cabin life in the Lapland wilderness. And for the Infinite ice cream! Ben & Jerry’s, please.
All images © Miika Saksi