ArtPod : Young Collectors
// interview with Jenni Rotonen

Jenni Rotonen is a social media professional who originally gained public attention through her lifestyle blog Pupulandia (est. 2007, 16 years later, she now works with social media marketing and content producing. She is also a co-host in the collaborative podcast AfterWork ( Her interests are centred around art, design, fashion, food, music, and feminism. In the process of developing this article series, Jenni kindly opened the doors to her and her partners stunning home in Kallio, Helsinki, and introduced their growing art collection. In this interview, we’ll learn more about her journey into collecting art, the stories behind some of the artworks and how everything found its place in their home.

Young Collectors is a series of interviews published on the ArtPod website and Instagram, conducted by Isabella Chydenius, a member of the ArtPod collective. The interviews highlight personal stories around art collecting among younger art collectors in Finland, and abroad. Finland (ind. 1917), a relatively young nation of mostly of forest, small villages, and farmers before the 1700s, does not hold a strong cultural history of collecting art in comparison with countries like France or Italy where a culture of collecting art dates back to the Renaissance (1300s), and before. However, since the 1700s and into the contemporary, there is an ever-developing heritage of Finnish art, and a multitude of professional Finnish artists and international artists living in Finland, but only small numbers of art collectors. This article series aims to bring forward practical tools on how to start collecting art, of collecting and having art at home as a means to connect cultural heritage to our everyday life, as well as interesting and inspiring stories and connections that arise in the process.

Jenni at home, Kallio, Helsinki, 2023

Already at first steps into the bright top-floor corner apartment in Kallio, a quick glance suggests that this collection comprises of a substantially lengthy list of artworks. I’m immediately intrigued by the carefully curated combinations of colours, shapes, and compositions of artworks, together with design objects and the horizons of the Helsinki skyline visible through the windows. After chitchats and much awaited face-to-face introductions, we start on the topic of art. As Jenni’s and her partners collection is quite large, this interview highlights a selection of the artworks and their stories. A full list of artists in their art collection is included at the end of the interview.

IC: You’ve been interested in art and design for quite some time, do you remember when and how you were introduced to art and collecting art? And do you remember the first work of art that you purchased?

JR: My parents have appreciated art for as long as I can remember, so I guess that is how I was introduced to the world. In my childhood we moved around quite a lot, but the walls of each home were always embellished by art. In this way art represented something constant and safe, something that travelled with us from one home to another. I’ve always thought that an apartment becomes a home once there’s art on the walls. Afterwards, when I moved to Helsinki in 2008, I started visiting art galleries in my spare time. I bought my first artwork at the TAIK (now Aalto Arts) Christmas market the same year. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the artist’s name, but it’s this photograph (middle-top artwork in black frame, image above). I think the name is at the back of the piece, but I’ve since framed it… Maybe we can get help from readers to find out who it was from! In any case, the piece immediately pleased me visually as it deported my mind into an abstract serene landscape of sky and fog. The artist, however, told me that the work is entirely created in the studio. I found the contrast of realities fascinating. I didn’t buy it then and there but had written down the artist’s name at the market and messaged them afterwards, as I couldn’t get the piece off my mind. Luckily, it was still available, so I bought it.

IC: How did you find out about the Christmas art market, and did you have a set goal or budget when you first went there?

JR: I was lucky to have a few acquaintances in Helsinki that were part of the art scene, e.g., ceramicist Tero Kuitunen, who participated in the art market. I was a student at the time, so I couldn’t really afford to buy art. But come to think of it, it was then and there that I came up with this kind-of-rule or loophole, which became my annual budget. The visit to the market happened around the same time as I had gotten a tax refund, and because I had my other finances in order, I decided to reward myself with an artwork for that money. After that, I consciously planned my taxes so that I would be on the safe side of the tax-process, and rather live with the possibility of getting taxes refunded when the time came around, instead of having to pay some back. It became my way to create a budget to buy art and an investment of long-term joy. Normally, who knows what silly things I would spend the refund-money on. My second ever art piece that I bought was also from the TAIK Christmas market, a print by Sanna Sipi (top left artwork, image below).

IC: A budget for buying art is indeed an interesting subject. Even though buying art can be experienced as a luxury, it doesn’t need to be as expensive as we may think. Do you remember how much you paid for these first pieces, and can you give an idea of a price range of the works in your collection?

JR: Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact price. I have a vague memory that I think the first one was around 150 hundred euros, and the second one around 300 euros at the time. The second artwork I bought together with my ex, but he kindly gifted his part when we went our separate ways. In terms of the whole collection, there’s anything from some hundreds up to a two-ish thousand euros. The range is quite wide. I really enjoy buying young artists work, as it directly supports them while they’re still alive. Also, it’s so fascinating to follow their development from then on.

IC: I completely agree regarding young artist’s work. I’m curious to hear more about them in your collection. Shall we start the tour in the study and move around the apartment clockwise? The first work I see is by an up-and-coming artist Camilla Mihkelsoo. Can you tell me more about how you found it as well as the other works in this room?

      Bottom left, waiting to be hung: portrait by Camilla Mihkelsoo

Painting by Jamie Ranta

JR: Yes, absolutely. Camilla Mihkelsoo has been on my radar for a while, but I was waiting for the right piece that is perfect for us. It was quite funny, because once I saw this painting and showed it to my partner and shared it on socials, I was repeatedly told how much it looks like me! I kind of see it, not that the character looks exactly like me but perhaps captures a similar mood altogether, which sealed the deal for me and here we are. I liked that it could be a portrait of me, without having meant to be one. I think it could feel strange to have an actual portrait of myself on my own wall, yet I like the unconscious relationship that was created between me and the artist, through this artwork.

JR: The work next to it is by Jamie Ranta (left). It’s my most recent purchase and was a bit of an impulse-buy. I only realised at home how big it is! I imagined that it could replace the poster on the wall behind it, but now we must rethink the curation completely. We had been eyeing another piece by the same artist, but it was sold before we had time to think twice.

JR: Then we have a piece is by Iiris Heikka, now Sjöblad, who I was introduced to via my dear friend the art critic Sanna Lipponen who used to work at the The Finnish Museum of Photography (Suomen valokuvataiteen museo). At one of the museums photography exhibitions, there was a pile of photographs on display, as part of an installation, and at the end of the exhibition guests were allowed to take one, or maybe buy, but I think just take, so she took this one for me and gave it to me as a birthday present.

IC: That’s such a lovely present. I’m fond of projects and exhibitions that have elements that can be taken with as a souvenir. And art as a present! The next piece looks very familiar, but I can’t remember where I’ve seen it or by who it is? And what an impressive frame!

JR: It’s the meme dog by Cata Ahlbäck. She quite often finds old paintings at flea markets and then paints her own work on top of it. I found it at the Taiko online shop and just couldn’t resist when I saw it. Her creatures are absolutely charming and quite expressive. This one is almost authorative as a portrait, yet funny. It’s titled Miss Daisy (original title: Neiti Päivänkakkara). When we were in the process of hanging the piece, we decided to place her here, so that you can see the dog peeking through the door when standing in the living room.

Clockwise from left: Post Bar poster as placement for a coming artwork, Sanna Sipi,  Cata Ahlbäck, Iiris Sjöblad and Ronja Lindberg.

JR: Moving forward in the apartment, you can see that we use quite a lot of colours everywhere, which is something that was inspired by all the artworks we have. The apartment was quite neutral when we first got it, but we really let ourselves be inspired by the art.

View from study to living room
Painting by  Jenni Rope


JR: In the next room by the dining table, I want to tell you about this very special work by Viktor Kuusela, who has already passed away. It’s titled Bark boat (org. title: Kaarnavene) and has an interesting story. My great grandmother who I unfortunately never got to meet, was a patron-of-sorts to Viktor Kuusela when he was young. She was a bit older than Viktor and saw artistic talent in him, so she supported and helped him in his career, which led to him being a little bit of our “family artist”. We have a lot of Kuusela’s work in various forms. For example, as a young artist he did this ex libris to my grandparents. I don’t think he’s as well known, but his work has been presented at e.g., the Ateneum museum and he’s a respected artist of his generation. So, this artwork here, was on my parent’s and aunts wall for as long as I can remember, as it’s a litography edition of 50 prints in total. At some point my parents decided to start thinking about who would inherit which artwork, and thought it was a great idea to plan ahead in order to avoid family disputes between three children. The aim was to be able to have conversations with us and learn which pieces were special to whom. We put post-its of our preferences, as in preference 1, 2 and 3 etc next to different artworks, but the system didn’t quite work because all three of us put this piece as our first preference. Lucky for us, at the time, around 2007-08’ish, Viktor Kuusela was still alive, so my parents decided to contact Viktor and ask if he still has some editions left of the print. In this way each sibling was very lucky and got an edition as a Christmas present!

IC: We can safely say he is your family artist, I’m sure he was overcome with joy to hear how popular he is in one family! And artworks are indeed a very nice present, especially when we know someone really likes an artist or specific piece of work.

JR: Hundred percent! I have another family related gift story about this piece by Marjatta Hanhijoki, who had an exhibition at the Helsinki Kunsthalle (Taidehalli) in February 2023. I did a collaboration with the Kunsthalle at the time and was lucky to meet her. And what a fantastic person she is! Excited, I mentioned meeting Marjatta to my mum, and my mum said that we actually have an artwork by Marjatta at home, which she had bought in Hailuoto, where Marjatta has a studio. When I moved into this apartment and my parents came to visit, this piece appeared as a lovely housewarming surprise present!

JR: And here quite close to Marjatta, is a piece is by Katriina Sjöblom. I first saw Katriina’s work at a café in a former industrial complex close to Turku. I was drawn to these incredible ink works, and took a picture of this one, my favourite, and sent to my partner. Unfortunately, he wanted to think about it a bit, so I let go of it for the moment. Some time went by, and suddenly I was face-to-face with her work again, this time at an exhibition organised by the Association of Finnish Printmakers (Suomen taidegrafiikot ry). On a side note, I love realising how I learn to recognise different artists work when I see them! There was only one edition available at the exhibition, and someone else had reserved it. I was devastated, so I decided to message the artist on Instagram to check if she had any editions left of this print. Turned out she had one left and was open to selling it to me. But then the discussions with my partner started because he still didn’t love it as much as I did. I’m laughing at the memory of how a good friend of mine even proposed giving it to me as a present, as then it would be rude not to hang it. Finally, my partner asked me if it truly makes me so happy, and I almost screamed out of joy! He has later shared that he first found it a bit gloomy, meanwhile I find it quite fun and energetic. I’m a huge fan of Katriina Sjöblom. Her themes are quite feminist which is another bonus and shared interest.

Clockwise from far-right: Hannu Hyrske, Jenni Rope,  Viktor Kuusela, Katriina Sjöblom, Marjatta Hanhijoki, Pekka Hokkanen and Viktor Kuusela to complete the circle.

IC: It’s nice to hear how you fight for an art piece. As an artist myself, I know us artists appreciate this kind of unshakable determination. Your stories also highlight that it’s ok think about the works a bit before buying them, if only they are still available when you’ve made up your mind.

JR: True, there’s quite a few works that I thought about for a while, or discussed with my partner or friends, before getting them. Another example of such a work is this work Roses (org. title: Ruusut) by Liisa Kuusela, which is very dear to me. I got it at the exhibition organised by the Finnish Painters Union (Suomen taidemaalariliitto). Once again, I didn’t get it when I first saw it, but afterwards I couldn’t get it off my mind. I even dreamt about it! After the dream I woke up and with a racing heart run back to get it before anyone else could. I love that it’s the first thing that welcomes me when I get home, in this otherwise quite neutrally coloured kitchen. After that I’ve followed her career, and we now actually have a second work from her.

Another work I got at the Finnish Printmaker’s annual collection sales exhibition, with a different kind of personal story, is this work above the couch by Rita Vargas (bottom image). Rita is originally from Portugal, but she lived in Finland for a long time. It kind of exploded off the wall and onto me when I walked in, so I just had to get it. Afterwards, when the artist was told that I bought the piece, she sent me a message and shared how much it meant to her. She was going through a tough time, questioning her practice and career as an artist, and came close to giving up. I learned that my purchase came at a critical time and provided much-needed support. She took it as a sign that she should not question her work and continued, energised, and motivated again. For this special moment, she wanted to thank me for my support by giving me another work, and I obviously felt so lucky! I love watching them because both works have so many details, I always find more things to look at in them. They pair so well together next to each other, and the colours are also such a wonderful contrast to the slightly religious-looking theme of the print, Adam and Eve.

Ruusut by Liisa Kuusela

Middle and right: works by Rita Vargas

Sculptures by Jaakko Tornberg
JR: Then, I want to introduce you to these two crazy characters (left) by Jaakko Tornberg. He makes work from trash. These two sculptures are some of his younger works, while he today makes a bit more refined sculptures. I find these slightly robotic-looking creatures so fun! I got them from an exhibition organised by the Association of Finnish Sculptors, where the tiny golden men captured my attention and stood out from all the other works I saw. It was at the same time that I had bought my first own home, so I thought they were going to be perfect as my new roommates!

IC: Perfect roommates, fun AND quiet! And what a great spot for them, where they can overlook what happens in the whole apartment. Even almost into the bedroom, which seems to be our last room in this art tour.

JR: Yes, let’s have a peek inside! The first work you see is by Liisa Kuusela and is titled Moonlight (org. title: Kuutamo). I first saw it on Instagram and was hooked the second I saw it. It’s quite large, so it took a while to find the perfect spot. To be honest, we were a bit hesitant to put it here in the bedroom as it takes up such a large part of the wall, but as you can see it’s just perfect there! We leaned into everything it offered by scale and colour and ended up coordinating the wall colour according to the painting’s colour palette. It is quite colourful, but I love how it still has a calming effect while being a bit fairy tale and fantasy-like. The work is such a delight on a daily basis.

Moonlight by Liisa Kuusela

JR: The last artwork that I want to tell you about is this work by Tapani Mikkonen. It’s also a tax-return treat, from around 2011. I saw it at G12, where they also rent out art, and after the usual pondering session, I went back and bought it. I didn’t know the artist back then; I just got it because I liked the work. Shortly after, I was contacted by the artists daughter that the artist had passed away and, in his honour, she organised an exhibition which he was working towards but hadn’t finished because of the sudden passing. I was honoured by this personal contact and went to visit the exhibition. There, I also found out that he had previously won e.g., the State Art Award (Taiteen valtion palkinto)!

IC: It was very nice of the daughter to organise the exhibition and make the effort to invite people who had previously bought his work. It’s also not the first work and artist whose work you have bought and then find out about these incredible achievements they’ve accomplished. How do you relate to art as an investment as their value increases with each achievement and time?

JR: My intention is always to buy art that I enjoy, and not as an investment. However, it always brings me joy to find out such lovely details about the artist and their career. They are wonderful bonuses. I do indeed have quite a few artists work whose prices have multiplied since I got them, but they hold such personal importance, so I have no interest in selling them. Even if I’ve already gotten some offers for some.

IC: You’re clearly quite interested in artists and their careers beyond the materialised final artwork that you buy. Artists that have passed away, but also younger artists. Social media has made this process slightly easier for us as well and you seem to follow a lot of artists on Instagram, additional to going to galleries and other shows. It’s safe to say you commend people to follow artists they like on socials, but do you have any other advice for people who are interested in starting art collecting, and how to find art to like and buy?

              Artwork by Tapani Mikkonen

JR: My first advice is to follow the art schools and universities social media platforms and order their newsletters to stay informed when they have exhibitions and art markets. Platforms that I always keep up to date with in Finland are Aalto university’s TOKYO organisation who organise the students Christmas art market, as well as Kuvan Kevät, the annual MFA degree exhibition at the Helsinki Academy of Fine Art. Those platforms provide a nice general review of up-and-coming artists. Other platforms that I follow are the different associations exhibitions. They’re organised once a year or so, and I follow them on Instagram as well. Lastly, I encourage people to bravely walk into galleries and have a look for themselves. Galleries are always free to view, unlike museums, and I think a lot of people aren’t aware that it’s absolutely fine to not buy anything. I recommend viewing a work live before buying it, but understandably it’s not always possible. The galleries, associations and Taiko websites provide great accurate images of the artworks for sale. For more established artists, or artists who have already passed away, auction houses are also a great platform to discover available works, often curated by art historians and other well-informed people in the art world.

Finally, I want to thank Jenni for sharing so many wonderful personal stories, as well as the great advice. If you want to learn more about Jenni, please follow her at @jennipupulandia on instagram or check out her website

Complete list of artists included in the collection of Jenni Rotonen and her partner: Reeta Ek, Orcun Erdem, Karoliina Granlund, Pekka Hokkanen, Hannu Hyrsky, Tero Kuitunen, Ronja Lindberg, Laura Meriluoto, Camilla Mikhelsoo, Paula Pääkkönen, Jenni Rope, Sanna Sipi, Hans-Peter Schütt, Armi Teva, Karoliina Vainio and Rita Vargas.