Eero Lampinen at UPEA Art Festival 2018 – Finland. Dispatch 2

BSA is in Finland this week to see firsthand the work of UPEART, an expansive mural art festival in its third iteration. Unique for its geographical breadth as well as it’s curatorial depth, UPEART has quietly revealed its amazing strengths without being self-aggrandizing or showy, slowly transforming cities and towns across the entire country with consultation of the locals and an eye toward the incredible international. Come with us this week as we traverse the country with you.

“The street has kind of a bad reputation in Helsinki and has a long history of illegal alcohol trade and strip clubs and sex shops and bars,” says Eero Lampinen, the young illustrator now working on his second large scale mural ever here for UPEART.

His characterization rings true as you stand with him on the sidewalk next to a sandwich board advertising scantily clad ladies in elegant, and difficult, poses. Across the street from this busy doorway is the multi-story mural that he is working on, heavily flanked and intersected by scaffolding that you can climb with him after donning a hard hat.

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A Helsinki native, the graphic design and illustration student designed for school books, festival posters, and various editorial jobs while in training. Now on his own professionally, his magic realist illustrative style has earned him a number of awards, including at the Mikkeli Fiction Exhibition and the Grape’s Year Peaks competition – and his figurative fantasies have made their way into a number of prestigious publications.

Eero says he loves the work of filmmaker David Lynch, and for illustration he really loves the work of Winsor McCay, the American cartoonist and animator know for his comic strip Little Nemo.

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of his own work, he says, “It’s like a mix of fantasy with contemporary and realistic elements – kind of magic realism. I like to play around with fashion different types of characters.”

The characters are here in the evolving mural – three figures who are working the runways of the street in distinctly different styles.

“There is a night demon, a rubber-outfit person, and then an older character,” he says, “They are all walking separate ways in the streets – and it plays around with this street.”

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As with all the murals in this nationwide festival of UPEART, the community plays an important role in the decision when creating the scene. As a result, the spirit of the street is somehow reflected in the new works on walls.

“We thought about it with the people living in the neighborhood. I proposed three different sketches for them to choose from and then we worked on the idea together,” he says. “They wanted to have like the spirit of the street somehow in the drawings so in that way it’s like a reference to the community and the life here.”

Eero Lampinen. Detail. Work in progress. UPEA Finland 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)