Drawing a LLinE

Meet Eevi Rutanen, graphic artist behind LLinE's illustrations!


Landing on the front page of LLinE, the first thing you probably notice is the creative output of Eevi Rutanen, 21. Eevi is the graphic artist behind LLinE’s issue illustrations in 2013. Eevi juggles a busy student life, pursuing two very different disciplines, graphic design and bioinformation technology.


” In upper secondary school, biology, chemistry and physics were my favourites. When it was time to choose my university study I immediately felt drawn to bioinformation technology once I’d heard such a field exists! In addition to my scientific interests I have always had a strong creative and visual side. I knew nothing about graphic design but decided to have a go and apply to that degree programme too, at Helsinki Aalto University. I was accepted to both! At first I chose graphic design but missed science so much that after a year I reapplied to bioinformatics. Now I study both!

I love the storytelling and handicraft side of drawing but I also feel drawn to the logical world of science. It is very trendy to talk about interdisciplinarity, but I can not see that much synergy between these two fields. They are two distinct passions.

Although I already have some freelance graphic design projects under my belt, in the future I see myself working in bioinformation technology. My dream would be to do brain or genetics research. Another dream would be to work on a big illustration project – a children’s book maybe!

The list of my own artistic role models is a long one. One artist that I have admired since childhood is Hergé, the creator of Tintin. My own style of drawing is a bit cartoon-like so I have to admire Hergé’s ability to convey complex, exciting and humane stories with such minimalist means of very simple lines. I also respect his meticulousness in researching his stories to get every detail just right. 

A good magazine illustration should grab the reader’s attention and offer a visual introduction into the themes of the text. The image can even offer a novel or even contradicting viewpoint into the theme! I myself love visual gags and like to play with double entendres, which hopefully can be seen in my LLinE illustrations.

The creative process from the initial idea to the finished image varies with the context of the illustration. For example, when I hunted for ideas for LLinE’s Mobility and Migration issue, I started by reading the summaries of the issue’s articles. I then tried to establish a viewpoint to the theme: I thought about what I knew about the topic from beforehand and drew a mindmap of my impressions and associations and of the concepts in the article summaries. I tried to come up with a visual way of combining mobility (a suitcase? an aeroplane? a hermit crab?) with learning (a certificate? a book?). Ultimately I went with the idea of the flying brain, which symbolises the learned minds migrating abroad. The picture also carried a connotation to brain drain. Additionally I found the idea visually interesting.

I started with several pencil drafts. Once I was happy with a draft I scanned it onto a computer and began drawing the image with the help of a graphics tablet, experimenting with different colours and layouts.

By the way, prior to this assignment I had a very vague idea of adult education. After reading the issues I was illustrating I was surprised at the scope of adult education. It is linked to so many things such as unemployment, migration and active citizenship. Education is often equated with children’s schooling in people’s minds. When I was a bit younger I also used to think that education has its limits. You go to comprehensive school and maybe high school and then you are an adult full of knowledge. It is only after I have started my university studies that I realize that the learning path goes on and on. Where will I learn all the knowledge and skills I am going to need in the future? At university? In some other training, at work, in my free time? I don’t know yet!