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Creative Conversations: Liisa Jokinen

Liisa Jokinen co-curated Anthology of Finnish Fashion which consisted of a selection of phenomena in fashion and the fashion industry from the 1950s to the present. Photo: Paavo Lehtonen.

SF Looks: Anthony, 29. Oct 1, Golden Gate Park. Photo: Liisa Jokinen.

Liisa Jokinen is a photographer, journalist and entrepreneur specialized in style, design and Finnish fashion. As a pioneering street style blogger behind Hel Looks and SF Looks, her work has been setting standards for street style blogs internationally. In 2015 Jokinen co-curated Anthology of Finnish Fashion, the most comprehensive museum exhibition of Finnish fashion to date. In addition, Jokinen has written and edited several books and co-founded an imaginary fashion institute, and an online travel agency promoting local luxury.

After living and working in San Francisco, Jokinen has recently relocated to New York. Starting in February, we will publish a series of interviews written and photographed by Liisa Jokinen, introducing New York-based visual arts professionals with roots in or a heart for Finland.

Prior to making her first interview we had a little chat with Jokinen to talk about the importance of international experiences in an artist’s career as well as FCINY’s role in enabling mobility.

Welcome to New York Liisa! How would you describe your relationship to The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York?

I’ve been following the FCINY closely for many years, and I even applied for a residency once! For people in creative professions it is essential to have opportunities to live and work abroad for longer periods of time. It has always been inspiring to follow artists’ residency periods through their blogs, Instagram accounts and other stories they tell during or after their residency. They act like mediators between U.S. and Finland, connecting the places and transmitting influences to both directions. In my opinion New York is the world capital of visual culture so it is extremely important that we have institutions like the FCINY. Full support!

You, too have experience in working both in Finland and in the U.S. How has the time spent in San Francisco and New York shaped your professional identity?

"Artists act like mediators between U.S. and Finland, connecting the places and transmitting influences to both directions", states Jokinen. Photo: Liisa Jokinen.

"Artists act like mediators between U.S. and Finland, connecting the places and transmitting influences to both directions", states Jokinen. Photo: Liisa Jokinen.

After moving to San Francisco two and a half years ago I had to give up many of my jobs, find new connections and to position myself again, which was both challenging and rewarding. The journey to San Francisco was also a journey to myself. I was obliged to reshape my professional identity: think thoroughly what are my strengths and ambitions, and how do I want to spend the rest of my life. Living next to Silicon Valley was encouraging, too. Now I’m more enthusiastic about entrepreneurship than ever. Being an entrepreneur is truly a unique possibility to change the world, in tiny steps or huge leaps. After living and working in California I feel anything is possible; willpower can take one a long way, but I have also realized that ideas do not matter – execution does. 

You’ve been working with multi-disciplinary projects, specialized in style, design and Finnish fashion. How would you describe your relationship to contemporary art, design and architecture?

It is very close! I could not live without experiencing good art and design. I’m extremely excited and happy to be in New York for this reason. These are also the fields that we Finns are talented in, which is another important reason to have a cultural institution in New York. 

For her first interview, Liisa Jokinen talked to Visual Artist Santtu Mustonen who’s work is currently presented in the New York City Ballet’s Art Series.

Liisa’s interviews will be published in FCINY’s monthly newsletter. Subscribe here.

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