Color Intelligence - Janine Rewell Cover Artist Interview - New PANTONE Graphics 2016
PANTONE Color Institute

Janine Rewell Cover Artist Interview
New Graphics 2016

Kevin Minott

Pantone Color Institute
April 6, 2016

Pantone recently launched 112 New Colors for our graphics line. To commemorate the launch, Pantone worked with artists selected from its Canvas community on Behance. The latest Pantone graphics products feature artwork from Janine Rewell’s body paint collaboration for MINNA PARIKKA. Today we are speaking with Janine about her background in art and how she came about creating the new artist cover for PANTONE Formula Guides and PANTONE Solid Chips.

Cover art used for the new PANTONE Formula Guides & Solid Chips Books, created by Janine Rewell for MINNA PARIKKA. (Body painting by Saara Sarvas & Riina Laine. Photography by Jonas Lundqvist.)

Can you tell us a little about your art and medium of choice?

My illustrations are known for their fluid geometrical vector shapes and gleeful characters. Exploring different media, my fantastical illustrations escape from paper onto human skin and into commercial campaigns and art galleries, stretching over categories and across dimensions. I studied graphic design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki as well as at the Rhode Island School of Design and I’ve worked as a freelance illustrator since 2006. My designs have received plenty of awards from national to international competitions including Cannes Lions Advertising Festival and ADC*E. My client list includes, among others, Crate&Barrel, Vogue Eyewear, Nike, H&M, Toyota, Finnair, Samsung, The Times, Wall Street Journal and Swarovski.

What was your reaction when you found out that your work was chosen for the new PANTONE Formula Guide covers?

I was very flattered when Pantone reached out to discuss the usage of the artwork on the covers. Pantone’s color books are fundamental part of every designer’s tool kit, so it’s an honor to be part of it now. It’s incredible to imagine all the agencies and designers who are holding my artwork in their hands on daily basis. I only recently discovered how wide the network at Behance is when connected with galleries like Pantone Canvas. The amount of interesting commissions and collaborations it has sparked really makes me want to recommend it to all designers.

Can you give us some insight into the creative process behind the piece chosen for the cover?

The body paint collaboration for MINNA PARIKKA shoe company was done two years ago. I’m so glad to see the project live on in new avenues and taking shape in unpredicted contexts. I’ve been working as designer for ten years, constantly exploring new media and techniques in order to develop my style.

I was interested in using the human body as a canvas to see how adding a living component changes the emotional response of the viewer. My illustration style is very colorful so using body paint as a technique felt like a natural choice to achieve the effect I was after. When I started researching about bodypainting I noticed that as an art form and as technique it’s still quite marginal and hadn’t really been used much in the field of the fashion and design. I then started looking for a concept to make sense of it all and contacted MINNA PARIKKA, a Finnish high-end shoe brand, proposing them my idea of collaboration for their upcoming playful spring collection.

Multidisciplinary art and design collaborations often result in interesting outcomes so that’s why I wanted to bring many components into play. That’s when I found the body painters Riina Laine and Saara Sarvas to join the team alongside photographer Jonas Lundqvist.

I felt like there was an opportunity to bring the art of body paint into design – as it’s often overlooked. I hoped that by using body painting in a commercial project it might also enrich the illustration field and show clients that there are still things to be discovered in the field of visual communication! And of course in fashion; the body itself can play a part in the story of a clothing line – more than just being a coat hanger. It’s incredible that body paint hasn’t been used nearly at all in the field of fashion although it is so perfect in bringing the designs to life!

I did a lot of experimenting with the designs; quickly I noticed that it was much harder than expected. The traditional art scene of body paint is all about sexiness and tacky fantasy creatures and animals, so that was exactly what we wanted to avoid. I must have done hundreds of sketches before nailing it. The challenges were to refrain from making a clownery look and to avoid highlighting sexual parts of the body. We encountered restrictions that weren’t expected and a lot of work needed to be done before reaching a high fashion look.

I think that a good pattern design embraces two opposing qualities: A calming rhythm that lets one's eye rest on the pattern and a combination of shapes that encourages the viewer to scan the design indefinitely to find new details.

Designing artwork that has to work from all angles was new to me, as an illustrator I am used to working mainly in two dimensional media. The patterns had to be seamless, and it was very challenging translating my designs onto the model’s body shape. The body painters agreed it was the hardest collection of designs they had ever done and we had to improvise quite a bit to make the geometrical shapes go all around the body without distorting the shapes.

When you hear the phrase New Color, New ____________ what comes to mind?

“New Color, New Mood”. Finding a new color and coming up with new color combinations is like finding a new word for a feeling you’ve had but never known how to show it to others.

Like most visual people, I think in colors and emotions rather than words and sentences. My moods are connected to certain colors in my head but also affected by colors around me.

Janine Rewell Body Paint for PANTONE Solid Chips Book Covers
PANTONE Solid Chips Books featuring the art of Janine Rewell (Helsinki, Finland).

What do you use for color inspiration?

Creative people build unusual bridges between different observations and associations that then trigger insights in the brain. This process is what I understand as inspiration; being curious to observe the world from different viewpoints and to do it constantly because the next insight might be lurking around any corner. Some of the observations brew their way into our subconscious and pop up as unexpected gifts, while other observations need our active attention resulting overflowing Pinterest boards and photo libraries on our phones.

Who are some of the artists that have inspired you over the years?

Hilma Af Klint (1862 - 1944) is one of my favorite artists with a stunning sense of color! She was a precursor of abstract art, the first one aiming to give philosophical thoughts and emotions to a shape with independence from the visual references of the physical world. For as long as we know in history, humans had been attempting to reproduce an illusion of visible reality in their art, so the abstract art movement was possibly the biggest change for our visual understanding.

What’s the next step in your artistic journey?

I’m always trying to keep a few personal projects running alongside with the normal commercial commissions. That allows me to explore new media and techniques in the field of illustration and design. I’m currently working on two solo exhibitions coming up next summer at national museums in China and Finland.

In addition to the photography series, we launched a collaboration with a body paint-dance installation in the MINNA PARIKKA flagship store windows to give the crowd a live-show. You can see it all in the 'Behind The Scenes'-video about the process (film/edit: Rasmus Wilen).

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