Illustrator Milena Huhta comes to Britain for The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October. At the festival, she presents her general body of work and participates in the panel discussion “A walk on the dark side”. In this interview Huhta tells about her sources of inspiration.
You are going to The Lakes International Comic Art Festival. What are you looking forward to the most?
The general atmosphere and meeting other people, who work in the same field. Finland is a comparatively small country, so this is a fantastic opportunity to meet other illustrators from other countries. I’m looking forward the most to meeting Junko Mizuno, an artist who grew up in Japan, whom I’ve admired since I was a teenager! It’s incomprehensible that I’m meeting her, I never thought that would happen.
What projects are you currently working on?
In addition to commissions, I’m working on a collaboration project Thaumaturgy with photographer Diana Luganski. We have so far made six photos of Slavic mythological creatures for the series, but we intend to continue the project and possibly have an additional exhibition.
I’m also working on a comic with my friend Marie Simola. It’s an anthology of four shorter stories. The starting point was that we thought it would be good if there were more erotic stories for people, who don’t identify themselves as men.
You often draw strong female characters and combine femininity and sexuality. Why do you want to explore these in your work?
I explore my own identity by drawing it in various ways. I’m interested in feminism, equality of genders and female sexuality. I think that expressing sexuality is often very restricted in our culture and I want to bring forth different perspectives on womanhood. I’m also interested in agender, so in the future I would like to draw more characters without a recognisable gender.
You combine magical, mythological and dark elements. Where do you get the inspiration for your style?
I’ve always been interested in morbid topics. The dark themes stem also from my life and a loss that happened in my family. Drawing is my way of processing my own feelings.
Because of my Polish roots I was read to a lot of Slavic folktales when I was young. They have always fascinated me very much and they contain especially dark aspects compared to other folktales, which draws me to them. Folktales encompass the wisdom of older generations even though they later got elements from for example Christianity and its values.
Magic comes possibly from the longing to another fantastical world. Drawing has always been my way of escaping and processing reality and through drawings I have tried to construct a new dimension into my reality, which brightens the mundane everyday life.
You’ll be participating in the panel discussion “A walk on the dark side”. Why do you think readers are interested in morbid themes?
Maybe it’s because people don’t have to think about gruesome things in their everyday life. When I experienced a loss in my life, I realised how little humans nowadays are in touch with death. It’s usually a clinical experience in the hospital and soon swept under the rug. I think that people are fascinated with morbid themes because curiosity is part of human nature. And maybe some people are more morbid than others.
Text: Jenni Ahtiainen Photo: Diana Luganski
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Britain 11th – 13th October, tickets: £14/19-£25/35
A Walk on the Dark Side, 13th October 12.15-13.15