Storybook Watercolor Illustrations Inspired by Japanese Animation and Swedish Cartoons

Illustration in Watercolor by Heikala

Finnish illustrator Heikala creates watercolor art of magical moments. The storybook-like scenes feature characters as they traverse through picturesque landscapes, often with an animal companion at their side. In these quiet illustrations, the subjects appear to be on the cusp of a big journey or are sometimes in the midst of it. These alluring painted snapshots lead us to wonder what's next for the likes of a girl and her wolf; or, in another picture, a character happening upon a giant fossil.

Nature, animation, and the artwork of others all influence Heikala's work. “I have a collection of various art books that I seek for inspiration whenever I'm out of ideas,” she tells My Modern Met. “Japanese animation inspires my works greatly. The things that most inspire me are the background paintings and the way characters interact with their environment. I have visited Japan several times now and I often take reference photos to later use in my works.”

In addition to Japan's animated films and shows, Heikala says, “The other big influence for my art are the works of Tove Jansson. Moomins were a big part of my childhood and Tove's works inspire me tremendously—her linework, shapes, and the way she depicts nature in her works always leaves me in awe.”

Heikala’s illustrations are extremely popular on Instagram; and, on the platform, she showcases her finished pieces as well as videos of them in progress. Scroll down to see some of her beautiful paintings. To purchase her work as prints, enamel pins, or on clothing, visit her online store.

Finnish artist Heikala creates storybook-like illustrations that are inspired by Japanese animation and the Moomins.

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Heikala shares her work in progress through enlightening videos on Instagram. Here's a peek into her process:

 

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Want to see more? My Modern Met is on YouTube:

Heikala: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Heikala.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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