GRAPHIC DESIGN & ILLUSTRATION: LOTTA NIEMINEN

KATIE HIRV, KNIGHT WIRE CO-MANAGER

Simplistic, while remaining bold yet charming. Hailing from Finland, this describes the style of graphic designer and illustrator Lotta Nieminen. 

Though people may not initially recognize Nieminen’s unique name, they do recognize her designs rather quickly. Nieminen has collaborated with and designed for numerous big-name companies, such as Google, Hermés, Facebook, Rent the Runway, the New York Times and Volkswagen. She now owns and manages Lotta Nieminen Studios based out of New York City, specializing in graphic design, illustration and art direction. Throughout her design career, Nieminen has been nominated for Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list, Print magazine’s visual artist (2010), Art Directors Club Young Guns award (2010), named “Graphic Designer of the Year 2019” by Grafia, a Finnish design association and served as a member of the 2020 Graphic Designer of the Year selection committee. 

Before opening her studio, Nieminen studied illustration and graphic design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2010, Nieminen was working for Finnish fashion magazine as their art director when she decided to move to New York City to pursue a different career, landing an internship at the New York City Pentagram, an international design firm. 

Even when Nieminen accepted her first full-time designer job, she continued freelancing. Her experience working for others before taking the plunge and opening Lotta Nieminen Studios helped her fine-tune how she wanted to run her business and how she wanted to manage herself. Her freelancing jobs eventually got to the point where she felt comfortable enough to stop working for other designers and begin working for herself. 

Nieminen’s freelance work also helped her develop her distinct style. 

“The kind of work you have in your portfolio is the kind of work you’ll get commissioned to do, and I wanted my portfolio to give a very strong feel of what type of projects and clients I was after. It definitely worked,” Nieminen said in an interview with Creative Lady Collective.

While Google calendar users lay out their week ahead, adding plans and meetings to the lineup, they may have interacted with Nieminen’s whimsical designs. With this client, Nieminen designed a set of monthly header illustrations for the 2014 version of Google Calendar. Whimsically telling stories of the characters illustrated throughout the scenes as the seasons change, Nieminen truly captured functionality and a very clean aesthetic. 

Nieminen’s work with Facebook in 2015 followed a relatively similar pattern. For the Facebook Events function, Nieminen designed a set of 12 event theme illustrations that can be used as cover photos. According to the Lotta Nieminen webpage, “this set includes Graduation, Class Reunion, Memorial, Bachelor Party, Engagement Party, Bridal Shower, Bachelorette Party, Baby Shower, Birthday, Family Reunion, Anniversary and Farewell Party.” This set shows versatility while still remaining true to Nieminen’s signature illustration style. Additionally, it’s likely that thousands of Facebook users used Nieminen’s designs without knowing who she was. The distinctiveness of her illustrations are truly charming and have phenomenal versatility, which can be difficult to capture throughout different themes and designs. 

Lotta Nieminen. What a true creative force to be reckoned with. 

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