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Six of the Best, Part 3

Part 3 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity. Today's artist is Mia Leijonstedt, a Finnish artist who lives in England. 

"How Stories are Born" artist's book

Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Mia Leijonstedt: I have a broad general training in visual arts, but my main discipline for the past 15 years has been contemporary bookbinding and sculptural book art. I'm easily bored with any one art technique, and books have proven to be a canvas that can accommodate an endless amount of creative experiments and numerous different materials, thus keeping me hooked. But beyond its any given outer form, my art is about conveying tales through the use of materials, the tactile details being the language in which a story is told.

PH: What piece are you currently working on?

ML: In the past year I have been transitioning from book art towards making jewellery, and at the moment I'm working on a series of lariats that to me are much like "artist's books". I see the meandering combination of stones and knotwork as a tale without words, and I'm telling a story through the use of materials in a very similar way that I've always done in my book works. My current tales just happen in the shape of wearable art instead.

Example of stones and knotwork

PH: What creative surprises are happening in the current work?

MLIn general I'm surprised these days at how enjoyable it can be just to follow the materials, listen to the direction where they want to lead me and see what comes up. It's always been an important way of working for me, but now that I'm not locked in by certain technical considerations of a book structure, I can truly revel in the pure joy of combining different tactile materials and let them lead me to the final piece. Elements just seem to fall in their right places without forcing and there's less and less of "creative agony" in my studio these days. I seem to have found the kind of a flow and ease in the making that I used to long for in my early years as an artist.

PH: What other artistic medium (or non-artistic activity) feeds your creative process?

MLI love to go beach combing, just wishing I lived closer to the sea. When I do manage to go, I lose the track of time collecting peculiarly shaped stones, driftwood, shells. Later, I examine the tones, shapes and textures in them, and much of it translates into my work eventually, one way or another. I'm endlessly fascinated by the natural world, its phenomena and discoveries. Rugged shores, desert, storms, wilderness - the presence of nature charges me up. I also love to discover artists whose work instantly grabs me as having a certain combination of emotional depth and professional skill in which they express the inner workings of their creative mind. I'm always intrigued by what makes individual artists put the time and effort into whatever they create.

Lariat style necklace (work in progress)

PH: What's the first ever piece of art you remember making?

MLAs I sat at my grandmother's kitchen table for the first four years of my life, drawing for hours every day from pretty much the moment I was able to sit by myself, I have no recollection of the "first" piece. Some of those drawings survive, like a line drawing of an elephant that I drew at the age of 3 after getting to meet one up close. That drawing is still infinitely better than what I'd be able to draw now. But even if I was drawing a lot as a child, it was specifically the making and crafting of things that was closest to my heart - using sticks and stones and strings to craft all sorts of arty objects. I guess pretty much what I'm still doing!

PH: Finally, and you can answer this in any way that's meaningful to you: why are you an artist?

MLIf I was a leopard, being an artist would be my spots. Developing my creative projects is almost like an additional sense through which I experience the world, and working in the timeless space of my art studio is the way I meditate. But it's also special if what I create also resonates with someone else outside my studio. If my work inspires another on their own life path, that's a fulfilling reason for me to be an artist.

If you liked this interview, and you'd like to keep up to date with the series, why not Subscribe, or sign-up via Google Connect, using one of the options over on the right? Thanks, and keep creating.


  1. Lovely to hear from a book artist! She's producing some beautiful projects - and I'm going to go and look at more of her work now, Philip. Thanks!


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