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Coming soon: The second chapter of adidas x Marimekko. Join our community to stay in the know. You’ll also get a special adidas x Marimekko mobile wallpaper.

Meet the creatives:
Sofia Okkonen, Artist
& Photographer

Get to know the people behind the new Kioski campaign.

Hi Sofia! Before we dive into the new Pre-Spring Kioski campaign you directed, we’d love to hear more about your background. What got you interested in photography?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been artistically and visually inclined. I always knew I wanted to work in a creative field, especially in the visual arts. When I was younger, I attended Porvoo Art School and the Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Visual Arts. I loved to draw. My passion for photography was ignited by chance when I started taking Polaroid photos as a teenager. After finishing upper secondary school, I studied photography, first in Dublin and later at Aalto University. My comprehensive photography studies finally sealed my career choice.

Describe yourself as an artist in three words.

As an artist, I am sentimental, playful and feminine.

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process consists of quick and intensive commission-based projects, which I often work on as part of a team, as well as exhibitions and slower art projects that span several years. I work mainly with staged photography, fashion photography and portraits. My most creative moments typically come in intuitive and very intense bursts. These bursts are balanced out by periods of writing, reading and doing research for my art projects.

Who or what has inspired you lately?

During these darkest months of the year, I’ve turned to bright, vivid and what might be described as cheerful colors for inspiration. I’ve been collecting pastel-colored fabrics and cardboard in my studio. I’m experimenting with a brand new color palette in my photos. Lately, I’ve been studying, photographing and admiring exotic butterflies. Their metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar, caterpillar to chrysalis and finally to a fully formed butterfly is incredible. I’ve been thinking about how the fleeting wonder of the butterfly’s different forms could be communicated through the experience of compassionate sympathy. I hope that reflecting on this question will continue to inspire me for a long time.

The most inspiring places in Helsinki?

Currently, the most inspiring place in Helsinki for me is the atmospheric Venetsia House in Lapinniemi, where I’m renting a studio. The studio’s windows overlook the sea. Another favorite spot of mine is the Harju8 bistro, where I meet people for work and spend time with my friends in the evening. I love the maritime atmosphere of my hometown. The Kallahti cape in the Vuosaari district has been a special place for me since childhood, and I love riding my bike there from the inner city.

What was your main inspiration going into the project?

I found the unique setting of Marimekko’s printing factory and its versatile visual possibilities (the colors, architecture, industrial machinery, small details, etc.) very inspiring. The motto “Living, not pretending”, which describes the vibe of the collection, was the main perspective from which we approached directing the campaign video and stills. Sincerity being one of the core values of the project struck a chord with me.

How would you describe the outcome?

I feel like the outcome conveys an energetic and happy mood. I like that the outcome doesn’t look flashy, but effortless and natural. The still images have a more minimalistic aesthetic than the video. The campaign images feature beautiful equipment found in the printing factory. The video gives the viewer cute glimpses of different parts of the Marimekko printing factory through the models’ eyes.

What does creative courage mean to you?

Creative courage means having the courage to take risks and allowing yourself to make mistakes as part of the creative process. It also means trusting your vision and, on the other hand, being able to let go. It’s good to be aware of trends but finding and cultivating your own voice is extremely important. I also believe that when you’re trying something new or expressing yourself boldly, you’re bound to experience a certain shame that stems from the fear of being exposed. It’s something you have to learn to tolerate and accept if you want to grow as an artist and photographer. I strive to have courage in everything I do and make.

You have a solo exhibition, HONEY, PLEASE, coming up in February. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Honey, Please is a project I started in 2020. The exhibition will open in Kunsthalle Turku in February and is a curious and hopeful attempt to recover from the chronic anxiety brought on by a sense of impending apocalypse. The project is inspired by questions related to the decline of biodiversity and loss of insect pollinators, as well as low birth rates and the pressure to procreate. The exhibition in Kunsthalle Turku is a colorful installation where digitally printed fabrics take over the floors and walls of the exhibition space.