How do you express the world a novel creates in one image? What does a record’s worth of music or a club night put on by a record company look like? These are questions graphic designer Jussi Karjalainen has endeavored to answer for 15 years now. His work can be seen on the record covers of many of Finland’s top artists, the book covers of some of the country’s premier authors and the posters for events ranging from science expos to comics festivals and rock concerts. “I’m like a sculptor: I have a big lump of material that I mold and peck at until something emerges. The fact that an artist asks me for a cover shows that they trust me and I do not take it lightly,” Karjalainen says.

Karjalainen sees himself as working in a service profession. The covers of records and books try to strike a balance between art and commerciality. Often the best designs are ones where the idea was pretty together to start with and making it a reality was easy. But not always.” The design process involves authors, musicians, journalists, publishers, photographers, stylists and even the printing press – and of course the designers. Karjalainen thinks the at times conflicting expectations of all these people collide in an interesting way in his best works. “I like tossing ideas around with other people. Now that I’ve done this work for a longer time, I’m more willing to let other people into my area.”

The end result might be what was originally discussed, but sometimes it’s something totally different – and this shouldn’t scare anyone, because whatever it is may be really amazing, too. “I hope that the people who buy books and records, and take them home sense a certain kind of aura there. The covers and what’s inside create something bigger than the sum of its parts.”

«When, at the end of the day, I finally saw the cover I almost cried; it was so amazing. And every time I look at it, it becomes more interesting.»
– Author Marisha Rasi-koskinen –
«Jussi is skilled and very patient – but not boring. He works on our ideas until they find their right form. He also knows how to let go of his ideas when they don’t please us. Jussi says what he thinks, directly but in a somewhat pretty way.»
– Musician Asko Keränen/22-pistepirkko –