Elli Maanpää

Art, Illustration, Film // Contact: elli@maanpaa.com

Elli Maanpää

Storytelling in Art – Questions

Questions about storytelling in art// Illustration by Elli Maanpää 2018
What do you think about storytelling in art? Narrativity was the main purpose of visual arts until the last centuries. Paintings were commissioned to tell stories about the events in religious mythologies. The gap between illustration and fine arts was not big. Only fairly recently – 19th century – the fine art took a turn to abstract expressions.

I’m fascinated about storytelling trough single hand drawn images. That’s why I chose it as my subject of study in my Thesis for the Turku University of Applied Sciences: How do images tell thousands of stories.

I’ve been collecting references by interviewing my artist and illustrator colleagues. But I want to ask my five questions also from you my dear blog readers. I’m going to add these questions to Quora where you can answer directly. Or send me an email to elli(at)maanpaa.com. If you feel the inspiration to share your thought’s on visual storytelling that would be highly appreciated.

1. Are you a visual artist? If so, do you think yourself as a visual storyteller? Why or why not?

2. What are your “go-to-tools” for telling a story with your art?

3. Is text important in your art – is it included inside the picture or outside: title, article, description?

4. What is the spectators role in the visual story: can the story be misinterpreted? Has that happen to you?

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. See you on Tuesday with a new video post.
Questions about storytelling in visual art// Illustration by Elli Maanpää 2018

Questions about storytelling in art// Illustration by Elli Maanpää 2018

Enviously Yours

Enviously Yours: Two Face // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010
Envy. It usually takes over me when I’m browsing my Instagram feed. Oh their art is absolutely gorgeous: Why I’m not as good as them? Oh they look fabulous: Why I don’t look like them? Oh they are travelling the world: Why I’m sitting on my sofa looking at THEIR travel photographs? Oh they have zillion followers: Why I’m followed only by my mom?

In the worst case scenario it’s the same person being master of art, picture perfect beautiful and travelling on sail boat in the French Riviera. Like honestly, how do they do it? Why does it always seem that other people are making it. While I’m stuck where I am: skill wise, look wise, money wise.

Time to leave the un-attractive self-pity behind. In today’s post I share some tips how handle your envy and how it also can be used as a tool.


When I first start feeling envious in a way that it makes me blue I need to do internal scanning: Am I tired, do I have headache, am I stressed and hungry. We are not always feeling 100%. If I look at the “perfect life” pictures at my 30% I might channel my bad mood into feeling envious.

At that moment my brain tells me that my life sucks and the person who’s picture I’m looking has everything I wanted. Even though that might not be true…

Enviously Yours: What Success Feels Like // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010

Enviously Yours: What Success Feels Like // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010


…like the other night I learned that Sara Forsberg – Finnish YouTube sensation – is a TV host not only in several Finnish shows but in UK. Her main career is being a singer-songwriter. On the side she has acted in several films, made an alien language to the Star Wars movie and designed her own clothing line. Not to mention she looks like a goddess and is way younger than me.

So she has quite a repertoire. But I’ve never wanted to be a TV-host or musician. Also I think I’d be confused if I’d be as pretty as her. I don’t actually want her life. So why am I envious of her?

Probably because I’m starting to be frustrated at being “just” a student. I don’t want to be seen as a hobbyist or amateur. I have an impressive study record and portfolio but I need to work on my self-confidence to be proud of what I’ve done.

This is where envy becomes handy. It’s a tool. List all the things the person who you’re envious about has. Find the things that matter to you. Those can become your goals. Envy works as guidepost where to headed next.


As the amazing Sunny Lenarduzzi said on her video “How to like yourself”:

“Everybody poops”

Envy is kind of pointless since you never know the whole picture. It’s easy to think someone else has it easier but that’s not true. We all have our cargos to carry.

Social media is just like any media: it’s biased and branded. Nobody makes vlogs about their days with diarrhoea – and thank god for that.

It’s the best to be you since you know already your strengths and weaknesses. You know how to handle your own s***.

Enviously Yours: All You Need // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010

Enviously Yours: All You Need // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010


This can be hard one if you’re unhappy at the moment and you’d rather be happy as the person in the picture you’re looking. But I promise you that if you can feel happy for the others it makes you happier too.

I believe I’m not only me but an atom of the world. I’m part of the whole. So when somebody else in this world gets good news it’s also good news for me. There’s ripples of goodness, lightness and gladness in the universe with every happy encounter. You’ll feel lighter if you accept to receive the happiness of others too.


It’s easy to take for granted all that you already have: being blind of your own success. If you feel that there’s nothing in your own life you are grateful of, ask a person who loves and admires you: what would they do if they would be you for one day?

I asked this from my boyfriend and his answer still makes me smile. He answered “I would first paint and then I would make myself cool clothes”. He made me realize that those are skills I have. I’m actually pretty lucky I can paint beautiful pictures and make myself clothes if I want to. Not everybody can.

Also knowing your core values in life makes everything easier. I’m grateful of my close relationships with friends and family that are drama-free.

Enviously Yours: Two Face // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010

Enviously Yours: Two Face // Elli Maanpää illustration from 2010

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” Harold Coffin


If you’re like me: the most envious moments come while browsing social media. Sometimes it’s time to shut down the phone and the computer and read a good book instead.


Thank you so much for reading. What are you envious about? Let me know in Instagram or Facebook. See you next Tuesday with a video post about How to self-study art for free. Until then. Inspire and be inspired.

Enviously yours, Elli

P.S. The art work in this post is illustrations I originally did for Satyyri web publications 2010.


Aspiring Artist Blog – New Posts On Tuesdays

Elli Maanpää Art Trailer 2018
Welcome to the aspiring artist and animation student blog. I decided to simplify my posting schedule a little bit. For now on there’s a new blog posts every Tuesday.

Every other Tuesday the post is also a vlog: a video published in my Elli Maanpää Art YouTube Channel. But my main focus is in my own blog. The one you’re reading as we’re speaking. Here I can supervision better the look and feel of it all: being the art director of my own artist life.

I published new video trailer to celebrate the new schedule. I hope you like it. Inspire and be inspired.

Easter Feast

Easter Egg Art by Elli Maanpää // Fazer Mignon // 2018
I’m little late to the Easter party since it is already the Easter Monday. But nevertheless: Happy Easter 2018!

I enjoyed my Fazer Mignon to the fullest by creating some Easter egg art.

We travelled to west coast of Finland with my loved ones – bearded boyfriend Vesa and Cocco-the-Cat – to visit our family. I’ve been working hard and exercising (as you can see from the pictures below). We always look picture perfect with Cocco. #keepingitreal

Holiday mood: Daydreaming with Cocco // Photos by me and Vesa 2018

Holiday mood: Daydreaming with Cocco // Photos by me and Vesa 2018

I hope you’ve had as relaxing Easter as I’ve had. Enjoy the chocolate while it lasts. Happy Easter Hunny Bunnies!

Key To Happiness In Life

Key To Happiness in Life // Elli Maanpää Art Blog and Illustration // 2018
Key to happiness in life is… moving to Finland. According to the report made by UN 2018 Finland is the happiest nation in the world. Read an article about it here.

The funny thing is: most Finns don’t have a clue that were so happy. We think it’s the opposite. We know our neighbours, people in Sweden and Norway are cheerful folks. But we Finns are supposed to be the grumpy peculiar elves from the woods.

Key To Happiness in Life // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

Key To Happiness in Life: Yellow // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

The idea of happy people is the all American family with their head replaced with a smiling emoji’s. Instead we Finns are the melancholy people who don’t greet strangers in public spaces. We can sulk alone in public transportation when It’s raining icy water on Monday morning.

Key To Happiness in Life // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

Key To Happiness in Life: Turqoise // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

I’m starting to realize that that is our key to happiness in life. We don’t have to pretend to be happy if were not. We are given our own space to feel whatever we feel. That’s why when you ask a Finn How are you? We usually give you the honest answer. We’re incapable of lying. Even if it would be a white lie of saying: “I’m good thanks, how are you?”

All this honesty increases the honesty. That’s why we have as a nation the highest trust to another. We trust the police, the president and even our car dealer. We don’t have to use energy of second guessing if something we agreed on will hold.

Key To Happiness in Life // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

Key To Happiness in Life: Blue // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

So if you decide to move to Finland to see happy smiling people with red cheeks singing and dancing in the flower fields, think again. We might not appear happy on the outside. There is even saying in Finnish “Kel onni on se onnen kätkeköön” which means “He who has happiness, should hide it

Just notice the little sparkle in the corner of the eye. It comes from knowing that were in the safe place – to be as we are.

Who knew that the key to happiness in life is honesty.
Key To Happiness in Life // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

Key To Happiness in Life: Red // Elli Maanpää Illustration in Elli Maanpää Art Blog // 2018

If you enjoyed this post about happiness, consider sharing it with your friends. You can also follow this blog trough Bloglovin. New blog post comes every Monday. And new video post every other Thursday. Have a honestly happy week!

Art Encounter That Changed My Life

Art Encounter That Changed My Life // Art vlog // Travelling Artist Elli Maanpää // 2018


I’ve travelled a lot. On my adventures I’ve met many who have made me into the person I am today.

I could talk about the first Christmas I spent away from home all alone. Surrounded by strangers in a hostel in Bariloche Argentina. I was so scared but it turned out into one of the most heart-warming Christmases ever. Or I could talk about my host family – parents, brothers and sisters – in Kuala Lumpur with whom we organised the most dazzling celebrations to raise funds to fight HIV in Malaysia. I could even mention Jack Osborne telling me in Mexico while filming the Adrenaline Junkie that he might throw up soon. He was a bit nervous about his stunt for that day.

I treasure all these encounters. But since I’m an artist, I want to share a different kind of story. I was 12-years-old and visiting Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. There I saw Henri Matisse‘s painting Harmony in Red from 1908. And that was it. This art encounter shaped my path. This is one of the turning points when I decided I NEED to become an artist.

Hear the rest of the story below in my art vlog: Art Encounter That Changed My Life

“So much of who we are is where we’ve been, who we’ve met and what we’ve seen.”

I knew I wanted to share this story that I have such a vivid memory of. Only challenge was, that I was on this trip twenty years ago. What material could I find to illustrate it since there is no video from back then? So I went back to my childhood home to investigate. I found old photograph album and souvenirs from St Petersburg – like the postcard set, you see in 01:05.

This image below is one of the photos I found. Here we are doing arts and crafts in our friendship school in St Petersburg. The girl sitting next to me is Anna and she was my best friend. The older lady was our Russian language teacher. She was always disappointed by my pronunciation. I’m so sorry. I think I was better at arts and crafts than in Russian language.

Art Encounter That Changed My Life // Art vlog // Travelling Artist Elli Maanpää // 2018

Art Encounter That Changed My Life // Art vlog // Travelling Artist Elli Maanpää // 2018

The Hermitage Museum

If you have a chance, I do recommend visiting the beautiful St Petersburg and the impressive Hermitage Museum. It’s the second largest Art Museum in the world. St Petersburg is surprisingly close to Finland. It’s twice as long journey from Turku to the northernmost part of Finland than it is to St Petersburg.

Go to admire the French Impressionist exhibition in the 3rd floor of Hermitage Museum. Or travel where ever your favourite paintings are.
Art Encounter That Changed My Life // Art vlog // Travelling Artist Elli Maanpää // 2018

Henri Matisse: Harmony in Red (1908) // Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg // Travelling Artist Elli Maanpää

Blogger’s Open World

This art vlog was my entry to Momondo’s Blogger’s Open World Awards. I need your help to succeed in the contest. The voting will be open from 9th to 15th of April. Thank you so much for the support.

If you enjoyed this content, consider sharing it with your friends. See you again next Monday. Have an awesome weekend. Inspire and be inspired.

How To Get What You Want In Life – 5 Essential Tips

How the Get What You Want In Life, Elli Maanpää Blog 2018
How to get what you want in life? How to make it from where you are now to there where you want to be?
I’ve fulfilled many of my dreams: lived in Paris working in fashion for one summer, held solo art exhibitions in a gallery, had a leading role in an international short film. Sometimes it might seem just luck. But I do have a secret formula I use, to get what I want. In today’s post I’m sharing five tips, how you can get what you want too.


The key to getting what you want is to know it and then own it. In the previous post I introduced the six questions you should ask yourself. Those questions will help you determine what you really want.

How the Get What You Want In Life, Elli Maanpää Blog 2018

Know What You Want // Picture from Pexels – Drawing by Elli Maanpää 2018


After you know the big picture, you have to dig deeper. It’s ok to dream at the same time to be professional dancer in Broadway and to live with Orangutans in Borneo. But is better to focus on one dream at the time. Choose which one is the one you want to prioritize right know.

As important it is to say YES, it’s also a super important to learn to say NO. We all have a great skill inside us called intuition. Use that to know when to say yes and when to say no. Sometimes you need to say no to yourself too. For example, when you’re putting too much on your plate. Prioritize your time.


We people tend to be visual. It’s easier to grasp it, if you can see it first. I recommend creating a mood board for your goal.

You’re free to do it by hand: cutting out pictures from magazines and taping them on a board. Remember to hang it somewhere you can see it daily.

What I prefer though, is creating an electronic mood board. I go to Pinterest to collect images that look like my dream. After that I open the best pictures in Photoshop. I create a desktop background size canvas (1920 x 1080 px). I compose the images on the canvas in a way that it’s visually pleasing to look at. After I’ve saved the mood board as a picture image, I change that into my desktop wallpaper. This way I see my dream visualized every time I’m on my computer.

If you don’t have picture editing software on your computer, don’t worry. You can also just open the images one by one and organize the images on your desktop. Take screenshot and use that as the new desktop wallpaper.

How the Get What You Want From Life, Elli Maanpää Blog 2018

Visualize // Picture from Pexels – Drawing by Elli Maanpää 2018


When you’ve got everything planned out you need to start working for it. Look for information, practise and talk openly about your goals to everyone. You never know who can help you.

Also make lists. If you dream is big: like being a celebrated author, it might be hard to know where to start. The first step might be: take creative writing course online. Or just read your favourite books while making notes of what you like about them.

It’s easier to work for your dreams after you slice them down. List actions you can start working on right now.


The most important lesson is: Enjoy the ride. If you think it’s the dream coming true that will make you happy, think again. Sometimes the dreams we have are not as dreamy from inside as they seem when we look them from outside.

What makes us happy is our ability to dream and working for the dreams. It’s great to learn, get knowledge and experiences. By loving what you do while you’re aiming for your goals is the best. Never lose that.

How the Get What You Want From Life, Elli Maanpää Blog 2018

Trust The Journey // Picture from Pexels – Drawing by Elli Maanpää 2018

Also: TRUST THE JOURNEY. Sometimes set backs are blessings in disguise. If for example you didn’t get to the University you applied to this Spring. It might just mean there are bigger adventures that awaits, during the gap year. Maybe you realize that’s there’s something else you rather spend your time on. Or you’re even more determined to make it there, with a new set of experiences, next year.

What makes you really the luckiest fellow in the world is the ability find the best from any situation you are in. Life is more satisfying believing that everything happens for a reason. It’s fun to look back in life and realize that something amazing happened only because something else didn’t.

Please comment in facebook if there is something you want to add? If you enjoyed this content, consider sharing it with your friends. See you on Thursday with a new video post. Inspire and be inspired.

What Should I Do With My Life?

Sun - Illustration - Elli Maanpää Art - 2018

What should I do with my life?” I asked from myself last week. My identity crisis came so strong that I kept on Googling the question. I found some career test but they really weren’t what I was looking for. And then: I found this blog post and these 6 questions. It makes sense that only way to find an answer, is to ask more questions.

If you’re not sure where you should go next in your life, please consider answering these 6 questions: 

“1. What do I absolutely love in life?

2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

3. What would I stand for if I knew no one would judge me?

4. If my life had absolutely no limits and I could have it all and do whatever I wanted, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

5. What would I do if I had one billion dollars?

6. Who do I admire most in the world?”

The credit belongs to James McWhinney. Here is his original post where you can also read WHY and HOW these questions are important.

Sun - Illustration - Elli Maanpää Art - 2018

Sun – Illustration – Elli Maanpää Art – 2018

I found some piece of mind after answering the questions myself. Thinking out loud some strengths and motivations I wasn’t aware before. I also was inspired to draw this Multitalented Sun Shines Trough -illustration. It’s a sun with eight hands. She loves painting, writing, creating and nature among other thins. So she’s gonna be ok which ever direction she chooses.

I also turned it into an GIF animation. Because I can and it’s fun. – Let me know if you want me to show how to make GIF:s?

Sun - Animated GIF illustration - Elli Maanpää Art - 2018

Sun – Animated GIF Illustration – Elli Maanpää Art – 2018

The design turned out so cute that I uploaded it to my Redbubble store. It looks awesome as a Kids Tee print or as a sticker (below). I’m going to add more products later.

Multitalented Sun Shines Trough - sticker at Redbubble store // Design by Elli Maanpää 2018

Multitalented Sun Shines Trough – sticker at Redbubble store // Design by Elli Maanpää 2018

The world is wide and there are many possibilities. There’s endless inspiration everywhere. Today I created this illustration, the animation and the print. I think it was day well spent, don’t you?

Do you ever suffer from identity crisis? Did you find the 6 questions helpful? Please comment below. Consider also sharing this blog post or follow me (my artistic journey) in Instagram. See you next Monday!

How to Get Best Out Of Art School (Make Your Time Count)

How to Get Best Out of Art School? - Life model drawings by Elli Maanpää 2018

How to get best out of Art School? On today’s video I share some tips on how to make time count when studying.

I am an A+ student. Ten years ago – when I started my first degree – I was not as great. I studied Bachelor of Art degree majoring in Fashion in the Aalto University. Even then I was an ok student but not top of my class. Back then I hadn’t yet realised the most important part: I’m not in school to impress anybody. I’m there to learn. Everything I do I do for myself.

The funny thing is that less I’ve cared about the grades the better they’ve come. My focus is in bettering myself. It’s about completing projects that I’m proud of. I don’t aim to be perfect. I aim to learn. That’s the key to the healthy study motivation.

On today’s video I browse trough drawings and sketchbooks from last Autumn while I was studying in Toronto. And if you want to know: I did get A+ on these drawings. More importantly: I improved by drawing a LOT.Figure Drawing - Elli Maanpää 2017

I also want to wish you: Happy International Women’s Day with these female figure drawings.

Figure Drawing - Elli Maanpää 2017Figure Drawing - Elli Maanpää 2017

Please share and come join the conversation in facebook. I’d love to hear how you approach studying and do you have some additional tips to share? Thank you.

5 Ways to Make Monday Feel Less Like Monday (Even After Holiday)

monday motivation - blind contour - Elli Maanpää

Monday can be a challenge. I don’t know if there’s statistic on this thing but it seems it’s always more likely to rain on Monday. Especially if Monday comes after a week of vacation. Today I wanted to share some of the tips to how to make Monday feel less like Monday.

1. Schedule Fun

Make Monday feel like extended weekend by scheduling something fun for every Monday. It can be a coffee meeting with a friends, movie night or a favourite hobby.

For me it’s Jazz-dance lesson. It’s a perfect sport since it’s not only good for the body but also for the mind. During the lesson I cannot concentrate on anything else than the choreography. The moment my mind wonders to to-do-list-at-work I forget the next move. So it’s very mindful time for me.

monday motivation - blind contour - Elli Maanpää

Digital blind contour drawing // Elli Maanpää 2018

2. Keep It Short

Try to keep Monday the shortest day at work so that you’re energized for the rest of the of the week. Maybe you can take a longer lunch break or leave little early? Again my dance-lesson is my saviour. It starts at 4.10pm so it means I need to stop working around 3.30pm. It might sound a short work-day but I promise brief and motivated is way better than long and dragging.

3. Plan Your Week

Monday is a perfect day to plan ahead your week. I’m one of those people that feel less stressed if I have my to-do-lists on paper. If you’re like me, I highly recommend doing bullet journaling and weekly planning. It has saved my life since I’m able to be productive in a more focused and stress free -way.

Then again if lists stress you out even more, please skip this step.

monday motivation - blind contour - Elli Maanpää

Digital blind contour drawing // Elli Maanpää 2018

4. Pamper Yourself

Every Monday is different so always stay tuned to yourself and what you need that day to feel great. Wear your favourite clothes. Have a morning coffee in Cafe instead of home. Take power nap after work. Go for a walk in the nearby park. Give compliments to yourself and colleagues. It’s also just as fine to enjoy glass of wine on Monday as it is on Friday.

5. Do What You Love & Love What You Do

Even though Monday can be tough it can also feel the most exciting day of the week. Even if you don’t love everything about your work/school there is for sure something you can look forward to: the work community, feeling of purpose or the salary? Concentrate on the positive and maybe Monday turns out marvellous after all.

And if not, after Monday it’s only four more days to the weekend.