Creating fictional lifeforms

Maria Björklund
Maria Björklund is an animation director, comics artist and illustrator from Helsinki whose area of expertise includes experimental films as well as designing cute characters. Björklund has participated in numerous exhibitions around the world with comics, animations and other work. In recent years her most well-known work has been “Planet Z” which started off as a comic in the Nyt (“Now”) supplement in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. A Planet Z animated TV series is at the moment in pre-production.
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I am first and foremost a visual artist, working with multiple disciplines: animation, comics, illustration, urban art, painting, experimental film etc. But right now I'm in the middle of a long stretch of working with something that's not very visual: scriptwriting for an animated series.

So in Korppoo I basically sit in front of a laptop, writing. Every now and then pausing to think, then writing again about the strange and colorful creatures on a fictional planet of my own making, Planet Z. You can see some glimpses of my universe here and of course in my Instagram.

One might wonder, why do I need to come to the beautiful Turku archipelago just to sit inside and think about my fictional creatures? That's a fair question! The answer is that my inspiration for those creatures comes from our own planet, from its endlessly wonderful nature. So every now and then I get up, I go out and wander around. I hike in the forest, I swim in the sea and the lake, I watch, I listen. I talk to birds and spiders, peek into puddles, gently touch a stone or a lichen.

And I take tons and tons of photos. Many of those pictures are of animals, plants, rocks, lichen, mushrooms... Many are close-ups of insects, leaves, pebbles, clams, bones, rock formations, feathers, water... Colors, shapes, textures, ideas... Stuff that feeds my brain as I build my fictional ecosystem.

Sometimes I also draw what I see - or what my mind sees. The drawing above was inspired by my day trip to Utö island. On the boat back, I spontaneously doodled these yellow fellows. I have already turned this image into a poster called "Utö" that will be used in a street art happening in Vantaa. But I think there's a fair chance that they will also pop up in the animated series sooner or later!

Lichen on a rock, Jurmo
The "bladder" of bladder wrack, Jurmo
Lichen growing on a piece of porcelain, Korppoo
Rock formations, Jurmo
A clam, Korpo träsk
A forest bug aka red-legged shieldbug (Pentatoma rufipes), Korppoo
Fly agaric, Korppoo
A rock with an interesting pattern, AARK
A feather in the sea, Korppoo
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Wepbage created by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)
Most of the pictures by Renja Leino  |  Drone and pictures of the studios by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)