This September comic artist Tiitu Takalo’s work can be seen in poster-sites across Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network. The poster campaign is part of Graphic Encounters project at SICK! Festival, which explores mental health issues. The posters tell the stories of four women experiencing challenges with health and wellbeing. In this interview Takalo tells about the project and the thoughts it has evoked.
You often cover feminist issues, lgbt+ politics and mental health in your works. Why do you think it’s important to explore these themes?
“I usually work so that I have the need to process some issue and hope I can find a channel for it. Graphic Encounters project was different, because the work was commissioned, but the themes fit well with my view on what you can tell with comics.”
Who is featured in your comic poster at Graphic Encounters?
“The interviewee was found through LGBT Foundation. I worked with a woman called Dennis. I met her a couple of times and based on our conversations I made the comic poster.”
How did you work on Dennis’s story?
“Dennis has many means to prevent mental health issues. The comic poster tells in practise how Dennis goes on in this world so that life is living and not just surviving. For example she works 25 hours per week and she finds her work meaningful. She has moved from London to the countryside. In addition, communities and hobbies are very important for her. These are simple things that I then converted into a comic series and a story.”
What does it mean for you that your work is a part of SICK! Festival and that anyone can see the posters around Manchester?
“I think it is great that the posters are where people are and they do not have to buy a comic book. I took that into consideration when I created the comic poster. It can give tips on how to cope with life. If you’re having a hard time, you can choose to do something differently. You can work less, if possible, create communities or join existing ones. This is an amazing opportunity to reach people who never read comics, and on the other hand present my and Dennis’s thoughts.”
What should next be featured in posters in the public space?
“Comics is a great tool for exploring different issues, because it can combine facts and emotions. In my comic series the text tells the fact and the image conveys the emotion. I use comics this way, but not everyone does. I think all kinds of themes and stories can be presented in public space. The comics would become completely different, if the comic artist would think about what others want to read instead of what they want to say. Therefore it is important to bring forth the artist’s thoughts in their works, regardless of what others think.”
Text: Jenni Ahtiainen Photo: Tiitu Takalo
Graphic Encounters, SICK! Festival, Metrolink stations across Greater Manchester, http://www.sickfestival.com/events/graphic-encounters-event/, 11th September – 15th October, free admission