Interview with @tuonipaints - a self-taught finnish artist

YP: Tell us a bit about you and your work, your art style and medium: anything concerning your art that you believe to be of significance. 

E: I'm a 26 years old Finnish internet-taught artist. I started doing art digitally but I've been slowly moving towards traditional mediums in the last year, exploring oils and printmaking. I wouldn't say I have a genre or one specific style, I'm still at that exploratory phase where I try everything and anything to see what I'm good with.


YP:  What prompted you to venture into the world of digital art? How did you start your artistic journey? Furthermore, how is the art scene viewed by the country you’re from, or currently living in? 

E: When I was a teenager I immersed myself into fantasy literature and movies. Seeing the Lord of the Rings concept art by John Howe gave me that little voice in the back of my head telling me that art is something worth pursuing. I came across the digital concept art scene on the internet and was fascinated by the technique; eventually I got myself a drawing tablet to practise with. 

Although my country doesn't have a big digital art scene, I think Finland is very good at fostering and supporting people pursuing art; there are a lot of places where people can learn different techniques with little or no cost. We don't really have a culture that tells you to not follow your passions in art, so the bar for entry into art is not very high.


YP: If you feel comfortable doing so, please tell us something about your course of study. Did you study anything specific regarding art or was your interest born from elsewhere? How would you define your skill level currently? 

E: I'd say I'm still in that late intermediate part of my journey, still exploring where to go with my art. I'm completely self taught so I've developed a perfectionist view of my art, always finding something wrong with it. This year I joined Sinix Design's Chroma Corps art "boot camp/battle royale" and I made a lot of amazing art friends that have definitely boosted my confidence and skills in analysing my art.


YP:  Art is most definitely a challenging, albeit extremely satisfactory activity to pursue. What impact has it had on your life so far?

E: I view art as something I have to do, it's a compulsion for self-expression. I get uneasy if I haven't drawn or painted for a few days. Art has had a huge positive impact on my life, I've gained many great friends through it and found ways to explore my inner worlds. 

A few years ago I was studying to become a Finnish teacher; ultimately, studying in the wrong field and problems with relationships gave me anxiety and depression. Art helped me escape and deal with those problems. 


YP:  Does your art enable you to support yourself economically? In case it doesn’t, is that something you’re striving for? 

E: Doing art currently doesn't make me any money outside of the few commissions or prints I sell. I definitely want to end up supporting myself through art, but it's not a must. I don't think I'll lose the passion even if I have to make a living some other way.


YP: What platforms do you use to promote your work? Do you think anything should be fixed about them or implemented differently? Do you believe that a new platform concerning solely digital art would be useful? 

E: I post my stuff on Instagram, mostly to show my family and friends that I'm indeed alive and doing something. I've grown disillusioned with social media and I think the dopamine trap these platforms have created is not constructive on the learning journey in art. I've decided to put my efforts in developing my skills as a priority to become a killer artist, and if someone wants to follow me it's a nice bonus. 

I don't think art needs a separate platform, since if you want someone to see your art, you have to put it where the audience is. If we get a platform solely for digital artists, there won't be anyone outside of that art bubble to see it. I mean, there's already Deviantart, Artstation, and numerous more platforms for art so I think the need for that has been fulfilled.


YP:  Have you ever had any problem regarding copyright and its management? Any experience concerning stolen artworks? How did you face the situation? On the same wavelength, has anyone ever posted your artworks and pretended they were theirs? If you contacted them, were they cooperative or unresponsive? 

E: I've had problems with Instagram to get a painting of mine removed from another account. My ex-landlady had taken a picture of a personal unfinished painting I was working on, completely without asking permission beforehand, and used the painting as an advertisement for her rental and therapy business. She didn't pretend the artwork was hers, but she didn't credit me and took the painting as a result of her "rental business fostering beauty and creativity". I tried to carefully reason with her to get the post removed, but instead of echoing her previous words about beauty and creativity, she told me I should be ashamed of calling myself an artist for defending my intellectual property. Instagram was no help in the matter, I don't think I interacted with any human being during the process of trying to prove to them that the painting was indeed my personal property and copyright. I think they would only react with a court order, and that's definitely not a possibility currently.

I think this is the problem with art, some people feel like art visible to them is theirs to exploit, disregarding the artist's wishes. I think people expect that once an artist puts their stuff out there, it's not their property anymore and it has entered public ownership.


YP: What is your opinion about NFTs and their impact on the world regarding Digital Art? Are you in favour of AIs using your art to enrich their database? 

E: I think the problems with NFTs and AI art stem from the aforementioned view: that artists somehow wouldn't feel a connection to how their art is being used after they publish it. Digital art is especially impacted by this: people don't equate digital art with traditional art in the sense that it's easier to access and use in its digital form. The whole AI art debacle wouldn't be a problem if it was an opt-in for artists. Currently the direction where the internet at large is going is very exploitative, so I'm not surprised artists are not exempt from it.

I don't think I'd ever want my art being used by the "machine". I'm thankfully not popular enough for people to exploit my art in their quest to create a replacement for human made art. People don't probably realise the level of exploitation employed by the artificial intelligence to create the art it does. To equate what the AI is doing to influences human artists have from people they look up to is very anti-human in my mind, we're not just machines that take in and put out. We always influence our art through experiences we've had throughout our lives.


YP:  What would you change about the current art scene in the world if you could? What do you expect from the future of art?

E: I have no idea what to expect from digital art in the future. A lot more notable artists are now fighting for the humanistic view of art and I hope we can find a solution that respects people's wishes concerning how their art is being used. What I'd want to see change in the art scene is more awareness about the tools we use, be it AI or the social media platforms we use. 

Sadly, I see a lot of promising artists calling their art “trash” or inadequate and I wish those people would be proud that they're publishing their self-expression, instead of keeping it solely for themselves without the danger of disappointment of not getting enough likes or views.

Thank you once again to Eero for agreeing to the Interview! 

About the Author



Columnist, (He/Them)

Content Creator for cosplay, gaming and animation. With a degree in foreign languages and a great passion for Oriental culture, he writes about copyright to protect the work of artists and young minds. A cosplayer since 2015, Yako is an advocate of gender identity and the development of one's creativity through personal attitudes: be it role-playing, cosplay or writing.