22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Ville Tietäväinen

Portrait Ville Tietäväinen
© Hartwig Klappert

Ville Tietäväinen was born in 1970 in Helsinki. He is a qualified architect, graphic designer, illustrator and caricaturist, but has mainly made a name for himself in the past years as an author and illustrator of longer comic stories.

Tietäväinen released his first comic, which plays in Thailand, »Hymyilevä kuu« (tr. Smiling Moon), in 1995 together with Harri Hannula. He set up his own design agency Studio Tietäväinen in the same year. 2003 saw the release of his second comic set in Hong Kong, »Linnut ja meret« (tr. Birds and Seas). The book, published also in French with the title »Des Oiseaux, des Mers«, deals with human freedom, forbidden love, rigid social structures and similar themes. His most important work to date has been the 216-page graphic novel »Näkymättömät kädet« (tr. Invisible Hands). In it, he tells the story of the odyssey of a North-African refugee in the European Union. While the story is fictional, it is based on the real life of a Moroccan father Rashid and is marked by its strongly expressive, mostly realistically drawn strips and its dramatic plot, which explores extensively the dark side of being a refugee. The book begins with the sensitive depiction of the social and economic hardships facing North Africans who live in poverty like the main character and which drive such people to leave their home country to seek a better life for their families. The powerful imagery of the panels as well as the realistic dialogues shows the horrors of the barely survived flight and above all the suffering they are subjected to afterwards in southern Spain. Instead of landing in the hoped-for paradise, the main figure, who was unemployed in Morocco, like many refugees ends up leading a new life marked by violence against and exploitation of such refugees, who have no financial means and hardly any rights. The book received great critical acclaim in Finland and was awarded many prizes. Among others, Tietäväinen received the 2011 Finnish Cultural Foundation Award, Finland’s most important cultural award. Work on the graphic novel took five years and was made possible by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Council. This allowed Tietäväinen – from 2006 onwards – to carry out extensive research on the subject and, among other things, to travel with anthropologist Marko Juntunen to Morocco and Spain to research on location.

His newest book »Just Bad Dreams« has been released in August 2013. Ville Tietäväinen lives in Helsinki.