Nuori Taide’s producer Anni Rupponen with art makers Aino Tanskanen, Jenny Idman, Viivi Poikela and Elena Kallio, and Nuori Kulttuuri’s Johanna Hurme in Who am I When I am Alone exhibition opening in Gallery Vivi. The gallery opened in early 2022 and focused on presenting art made by young people from Pirkanmaa and other regions. Gallery Vivi, Youth Culture Centre Monitoimitalo 13, City of Tampere. Photo: Ilana Pantzar

Anni Rupponen is a visual culture professional and artist educator working as Nuori Taide’s producer. She has recently passed the age of 29, a limit of youngness based on Finnish Youth law. Her interests include co-designing better services for youth interested in art and developing discussion-based practices in art.

Nuori Taide (Young Visual Art) has played a key role in my professional life since late 2020 when I started to work as Nuori Taide’s producer. Through Nuori Taide’s activities, I support young people to find their strengths, pursue their dreams, and educate themselves in life and art. The work continuously challenges me to critically observe and interpret compositions of youth, visual culture, and art activities.

Nuori Taide was established in 2018 by the Art Centre for Children and Young People and its former producer, Päivi Venäläinen (currently an executive director). It offers a continuous cluster of activities and a forum for young people to present their art and other arts-based activities. Nationwide Nuori Taide events every two years, easy access to Instagram activities, and Taide\Folio—a free portfolio and discussion platform for young creatives—are just a few examples of successful implementations of Nuori Taide. The context of activities is cultural youth work with a specialisation in visual art.

The best and most challenging part of my work with Nuori Taide is to recognise and utilise both rapid and slow changes in visual culture and youth work without forgetting changes in society and funding structures. In addition to the policies and practices, the experiences and wishes of the youth involved in the activities continually reshape Nuori Taide, as it was planned to be first-hand. I regularly work with young people, from experienced hobbyists and novice professionals to those looking for a new hobby. Long-term partnerships with cultural youth work expert Young Culture (Nuori Kulttuuri) and the Amos Rex art museum and its Generation Triennale help us develop more culturally and socially sustainable activities.

Invitations are always open to all young people aged 13–28 to create content and events. Based on my experiences working with youth, many want to meet other like-minded people and professionals and to get more opportunities to present their art, which we have chosen as the central aim of Nuori Taide activities. Building networks and having diverse and professionally created experiences in the field of the arts at a young age have been perceived as extremely important among youth.

Funding of cultural youth work

Nuori Taide is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Youth Department. Currently, the Youth Department is one of the beneficiaries of the Finnish gaming company Veikkaus, but the funding base is moving to the state budget. This funding offers fundamental stability for the Nuori Taide forum. Nevertheless, at the same time when the number of young art makers increases in Nuori Taide activities, the funding base becomes more unstable. Growing sustainability expectations and preventive work with youth’s well-being issues are everyday issues of my work. High-quality services that are accessible and can be measured with numbers or participants are also required. Reports and applications for a new round of funding are made yearly within a one-year-long funding period. Feedback from the youth organisations has proposed changing funding periods from one to a minimum of two years, which I agree with. The funding structures are closely connected to the youth law (Nuorisolaki). The law is the guideline for all Nuori Taide activities, from choosing target groups to implementing activities in several regions. Currently, the law is under development. Youth organisations have been invited to comment on it to guarantee that the law serves the field in the best way. Nuori Taide is concerned that the criteria for national youth work will be expanded from three to seven regions per year. This means not only a new strategy but a lack of staff and other resources to do the actual work.

Nuori Taide and other cultural youth work organisations need funding from the state to guarantee that art and culture services are accessible for all young people, regardless of their living situation. What worries me is how the changes in the government may change youth policy and its funding. We hope that future criteria for youth work funding will better take into account digital youth work as well as the nature of artistic hobbies.

With a sustainable funding base, Nuori Taide could focus more on supporting young people with a high risk of exclusion and school dropouts. When the current criteria for funding are more focused on the number of participants, these groups are in danger of being excluded. Nuori Taide aims to close the gap between newcomers and experts in the art field. This requires time, space, and enthusiasm from both the youth and the professionals who work with them.

The following stories offer glimpses of Nuori Taide’s activities, told by the youth themselves. Ansa Kurola talks about their experiences with content creation for @nuoritaide Instagram and blog, while Karoliina Kuusisto describes opportunities given based on their activity in Taide\Folio. Tiia Tammi tells the experiences from the Nuori Taide 2021 online event, and Moona Rantanen continues with the story of the Nuori Taide 2023 production group activities so far. Finally, Jenny Idman describes their experience with the Who Am I When I Am Alone exhibition, which they dismantled with five other 14–19-year-old artists.

Anni Rupponen, June 2022, Helsinki

I am Ansa Kurola, a poet and artist working on their first poetry collection. Some recurring themes in my work are queerness, love, and creativity. Besides writing, I love painting and performing my poems on stage. I always say that art is the same as breathing—essential and calming.

I first came across Nuori Taide when I was asked to perform in an online open mic for Young Culture’s event. I simply followed the Instagram account because anything with young artists and art piqued my interest. In the summer of 2021, I did a social media takeover on Nuori Taide’s Instagram and wrote a blog post for them in the autumn. In my takeover, I wanted to gently encourage fellow young creators to view their works, no matter the medium, as art. I wanted to take the time and space to ponder out loud who gets to call themselves an artist. Are there any criteria for that? I concluded that if you create, you are an artist. My angle was on empowerment and taking control of yourself because if you don’t give credit to yourself, nobody else will. I wanted to emphasise that you can be an artist even if you haven’t studied art or don’t have the stereotypical background to fit into any art institution’s structures.

In my blog post titled “I wish for more diversity in art,” I wrote about the difficulties of portraying non-binary experiences in art. More broadly, I wanted to remind people, especially artists, to be more critical of how they depict humans in their work. For example, questions such as, are they painting queer love, using only white people as references, and have they ever drawn a disabled body? After all, no matter how progressive we consider ourselves to be, we all need to analyse, from time to time, what norms and biases we bring into our art.

I hope that the focus in the future for Nuori Taide, as well as for all organisations in the art field, is on three things: accessibility, diversity, and considering the current ecological crisis in every aspect. In my mind, the beauty of art lies in creating a connection. As I wrote this text, one idea that popped into my mind was a mentorship programme for young creators with established artists. I rarely see any of those, and creating art together would benefit all parties. Perhaps Nuori Taide would have some of the right connections and resources for that.

Ansa Kurola @mustesiipinen, 20 years old, Helsinki

Karoliina Kuusisto’s studio corner
Karoliina Kuusisto’s studio corner

Karoliina Kuusisto’s studio corner

I’m bad at writing about myself because I don’t know who I really am. My name is Karoliina Kuusisto. I know that for sure. I’ve always done art since I was a little kid. I drew and painted my feelings and thoughts on paper. I let colours take my mind away from the hectic life I lived. Now I’m almost 18 years old, and I still paint a lot. I try to paint all my brain activity on paper because I feel there’s too much happening. I dribble my blood and teardrops on paper. I drain my thoughts and feelings on paper.

I have always wanted to share my art, even though it doesn’t always make sense. So, finding Nuori Taide and Taide/Folio was my dream come true. I get to show my art and advertise myself with low maintenance. Being a young artist trying to get an audience and publicity is hard. Some say that social media has made it easier for us, but it hasn’t. You need to post like crazy, use different platforms and plan when and where you post, but even if you do that, you might sink under everything else on social media. It adds undue pressure. But if that works for you, go for it, I think.

There are so many of us trying to do the same thing. The competition is tough. Using Taide/Folio helps you stand out in Finland’s art scene. Nuori Taide sometimes brings up open calls for art exhibitions. Following them helps find events to apply to if you want to have your work on display.

Nuori Taide highlights now and then artworks and people’s sites from Taide/Folio on Instagram. I remember getting the message about it and being so excited. I’ve only had my works displayed in the spring exhibitions of my art school, so something that’s not on compulsory display felt amazing like I had been seen for real. I gained dozens of followers; that was great for the art account I had just started. And now I have been given this opportunity to write here. I didn’t know before that there were so many online magazines.

I love that Nuori Taide creates opportunities for us young artists. They give a taste of what it is to be an artist and make it a little bit easier to start a career in art. I’ve learned so much after beginning to follow Nuori Taide. For example, I didn’t know that artists should get that much compensation for the work that they’ve done. I hope Nuori Taide keeps up their good work bringing up new artists.

Karoliina Kuusisto, 16 years old, Pori

Tiia Tammi’s work in Taide\Folio
Tiia Tammi’s work in Taide\Folio

Tiia Tammi’s work in Taide\Folio

I learned about Nuori Taide early in 2021 through an ad promoting the Nuori Taide 2021 event. Through Nuori Taide, I have grown as an artist and found many opportunities to improve my art.

The Nuori Taide 2021 event was, in my opinion, a success. It allowed young artists to show their art and opinions. At the event, there were many different activities. Most memorable for me was the panel discussion where artists talked about young artists’ paintings in galleries.

The panel advised us to search for different kinds of galleries. It also suggested that young artists should feel more confident in applying for grants.

If I could add something to the Nuori Taide 2021 event, it would be more artist interviews. I found them helpful, and I discovered more about the artist and the ideas behind their artwork.

Through the Nuori Taide 2021 event, I became friends with one of the people who ran a workshop. And through that friend, I became a part of an art collective called Ihmistoivo (loosely translated as human hope in English).

I think I was lucky to follow Nuori Taide because, through them, I had many opportunities, and it has helped me to evolve as an artist.

Tiia Tammi @tammitiia, 18 years old, Petäjävesi

Screenshot from Moona Rantanen’s dance performance in the Nuori Taide 2021 event
Screenshot from Moona Rantanen’s dance performance in the Nuori Taide 2021 event

Screenshot from Moona Rantanen’s dance performance in the Nuori Taide 2021 event

I’m a member of the Nuori Taide 2023 event production group, and I participated in the Nuori Taide 2021 event. I imagine that the Nuori Taide 2023 event will be a collection of different forms of art and creativity that people have created. The expectation is that we will organise the event in Helsinki to meet new people face-to-face on-site, for example, artists who made the exhibited artworks. I hope that the event creates opportunities for people who are interested in art and its many forms.

We expect around 200 participants. The schedule needs to be planned carefully beforehand to have a fun event. In the production group, I hope to learn how to conduct a good art event like the ongoing event-to-be Nuori Taide 2023, where I am involved as a production assistant.

I’ve learned that people are very passionate about art. I have also learned that organising an event like the Nuori Taide 2023 is a passion for others. Making the event is living it thoroughly, being it, watching it, making it real. It could end in the form of a song or a dance performance that captivates the watcher. This all is very interesting and exciting to me.

Moona Rantanen, 19 years old, Jyväskylä

Jenny Idman’s drawing “The Universe of Freedom” in the exhibition “Kuka olen, kun olen yksin” in Galleria Vivi in Youth Culture Centre Monitoimitalo 13
Jenny Idman’s drawing “The Universe of Freedom” in the exhibition “Kuka olen, kun olen yksin” in Galleria Vivi in Youth Culture Centre Monitoimitalo 13

Jenny Idman’s drawing “The Universe of Freedom” in the exhibition “Kuka olen, kun olen yksin” in Galleria Vivi in Youth Culture Centre Monitoimitalo 13

My name is Jenny Idman, and I am a self-taught artist from Imatra. I also study visual arts at Virta College. I have been doing art my whole life, but I have been more interested in it since I was in third grade. My love for art started from reading Donald Duck comics every day. I researched their origins and found the artist behind the comics. I was amazed by the details of the comics, especially the ones drawn by Don Rosa. It inspired me so much that I decided to do those drawings myself. It began with me copying the comics and ended with me growing up loving art. Nowadays, I use my iPad, laptop, and drawing display to create digital illustrations. It brings me joy and relaxation between busy days.

In January 2022, I was just sitting on a bus from school to home. I discovered Nuori Taide on Instagram by accident. I found out they had a website where you can create a portfolio for your art called Taide/Folio. I was a little curious, so I made my Creatives profile and posted a few of my drawings there. Then, a few days later, I noticed a post on Nuori Taide’s Instagram account. It was about an open call for art makers between 13 and 19. The theme of the upcoming visual art exhibition was “Who Am I When I Am Alone?”. I thought it was a cool opportunity and sent an application. I was chosen for the exhibition.

I have learned a lot while being a part of the exhibition. Working with Nuori Taide was a new experience, and I recommend it to anyone interested in art to participate in activities organised by Nuori Taide! The exhibition project was a chance to communicate with people my age who have the same interests as I have. I think it is excellent that Nuori Taide exhibits more art done by younger generations because I think it doesn’t get enough attention.

The exhibition was in Tampere, so it was far for me. I think Nuori Taide should organise some events in Lappeenranta, which is quite close to where I live. I also wish to meet new people nearby who have similar interests in art as me. I think it is important for young artists to get to know each other. The lack of opportunities to meet should be talked about more. It would also be great to organise events for those who want to learn digital drawing. It has been hard for me to learn all those skills by myself, and I think many people want to learn them but don’t know where to start.

Jenny Idman @wodo0, 18 years old, Imatra