The Finnish Illustration Association (Kuvittajat ry) presented the Illustrator of The Year (Vuoden Kuvittaja) Award for the first time in May 2019 and Matti Pikkujämsä was the inaugural winner. In the words of the jury, "Matti Pikkujämsä is an illustrator who constantly develops himself and boldly ventures into new areas. He is a phenomenal talent and an outstanding illustrator who breathes through his pen."
Matti Pikkujämsä has illustrated more than 20 picture books for children. He has designed textile patterns for Marimekko and Samuji, among others, and regularly does illustrations for Helsingin Sanomat. Pikkujämsä is a popular painter of portraits and has made the almost lost tradition of portrait painting trendy again. In the Cup of Therapy project, Pikkujämsä illustrated mental health problems and wellbeing to make them visible. A postage stamp set illustrated by Pikkujämsä was released in February 2019.
The Illustrator of the Year 2019 exports a Finnish visual landscape out into the world. Although he works internationally, his illustrations portray the Finnish spirit with their spruces and domestic animals. His style features echoes of Nordic design from the previous decades, depicted from a new, fresh perspective.
The award exhibition of the Illustrator of the Year, will be on display at the Hanaholmen Gallery this autumn from 8 September to 27 October. The exhibition is organized by The Finnish Illustration Association together with the Hanaholmen Cultural Centre.
The award is worth 10 000 euros and is funded from the copyright remunerations collected by Kopiosto.