Interview with Call for Entries Illustrator Rami Niemi

Q: What made you decide to become an illustrator?

Rami: One of my earliest assignments was some smut requested by my classmates in the 5th grade. In 1991 I broke my arm while on a cruise ship with my parents and learned afterwards to draw with my left hand. That was fun, and caused a lot of “awe” in both kids and grown-ups. I was a big fan of music, MTV and magazines such as 90s staples The Face and Select, and VOX which was NME’s monthly glossy mag. Also I read Peter Bagge’s Hate magazine a lot because I felt Buddy Bradley was my imaginary big brother and understood me. I went to art school because i liked to draw and had already spent a lot of my time doing so. Eventually years later I started doing illustrations by two lucky coincidences: my job at advertising agency was depressing and at the same time i was asked if I wanted to have an agent to sell my drawings. I would think the sum of these events led to me doing what i do nowadays.

Q: What were some of the struggles you went through to become an illustrator?

Rami: I attended art school, and did a couple of internships with lots of sitting around and smoking indoors. I fell out with my best friends with whom I started a small company (we’re good now, though). I worked in the post office, too. I let my mom and dad pay my telephone bill for way too long. Eventually I was able to “quit my day job” as illustration work began coming in.

Q: What are some of the struggles you face on a daily basis?

Rami: I would say the main everyday struggle is to make some kind of schedule for the day and try and surf the internet as little as possible (or dick around in general) in order to get stuff done before late. Then you have time to do other fun stuff too like walk outside, bike, pick mushrooms and whatnot. I feel lousy everyday with so many fucking awesome illustrators around who draw better and funnier than me. Also I feel like Andy Millman from Extras, always wanting to do something “more real” than what’s on the plate, but I’m sure that’s what’s it’s like for everybody. So I’m definitely not complaining.

Q: What are some of the struggles you have with clients?

Rami: I have hard time when the brief changes to something else mid-way or something like that. And general rudeness and bad communication puts me off too. Also I don’t dig when i feel like somebody wants to change my drawing just to get their say.

Q: What’s the craziest thing a client ever said to you?

Rami: The clients have all been pretty polite, I can’t actually remember having heard anything outrageous. I get “can we get this for free?” a lot, though.

Q: How do you motivate yourself in spite of said struggles/hurdles?

Rami: I try and think of all the fun stuff I can do after the job’s done. I get to sit down and listen to good records all day. Plus I tell myself I can’t act like a baby cos I’m “a pro” now.

Q: What’s your least favorite part of the process?

Rami: I would think my least favorite part is cleaning up the illustration and checking it out so that it looks all nice and tidy and ready to be delivered. Also I’m a little paranoid “somebody” will modify my vector lines, so I try and make it so it’s very difficult to do so just in case. Or starting up a new job can be difficult also, especially if there’s a new episode of Weeds waiting. Then again, going to the kick-off meeting can be a bitch too.

Q: What makes it all worthwhile for you?

Rami: I have flexible hours, and I can buy a lot of LPs as inspirational material. Also there’s a theoretic possibility to indulge in some moronic fun action because i’m “an artist” like for example my mom thinks. Sometimes you allow yourself to sleep in. And sometimes somebody says something nice about my work – I’m very easy to please.

Q: Were there struggles with the creation of this campaign?

Rami: There were absolutely no struggles creating this campaign, as I got to draw what i like to draw, and the brief was spot on perfect and clear and the client was very easy to deal with + fun like hell AND from NYC too.

Q: What does “Keep fighting the good fight” mean to you and what are your views on the topic of this campaign?

Rami: I would think it means that ad man’s life is a lot easier if he doesn’t let every dickhead get under his skin, but rather keeps calm and finds alternative ways to beat them / make everybody happy. That’s sort of what I’m trying to do at least…

Q: What advice would you give yourself if you could go back and tell your younger self something?

Rami: Be more extroverted, be nice to people but don’t try and please everybody. Don’t point and shout. There’s a million things I would say, so it would take so long eventually the young me would be an old fart again!

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