By Celina Tran
FinnFinn is a French artist based in Paris. Though he primarily describes himself as an illustrator, Finn also dabbles in watercolour and gouache paints to create his cute, colourful universe.
It’s 1 PM when Finn calls from the French capital. Dark coils bounce off his head, and he wears a sweet smile. Even through the screen, he radiates warmth and happiness.
“Hello! Can you hear me?” he asks gleefully, the twang of a
French accent peeking through. When he receives a confirming nod, he smiles even wider. “Oh okay, wonderful!”
Finn, who goes by FinnFinn online, is a French artist and illustrator. Finn’s creative world is a whirlpool of bright, colourful animations, cartoons, and characters, all a product of intense drawing and late hours in his small Paris apartment.
“I’m primarily an illustrator, but I also like working with watercolour and gouache,” he explains. “I draw many different things, but for the most part I make children’s illustrations. They’re all very simple and colourful.”
Art school, the nerves of sharing art, and creative blocks
Finn’s journey as an artist began in earlier days, in the French countryside, where he’s originally from. Growing up, he enjoyed watching anime and drawing, though not nearly as much as he does now. Eventually, once he decided to take art seriously, he left for Paris to pursue a career in art and start art school.
“At the end of High School, we had to choose what to do going forward. I hated traditional school, I hated science, I hated literature, so I remember thinking, “Oh crap, I have no idea what to do with my life,” he says. “However, I always enjoyed art, so I applied to a bunch of art schools. I think my parents were a little worried at first, but then I got into my dream school, so that made them feel a lot better.”
Finn explains that despite being exactly where he had dreamed about, art school wasn’t exactly what he had imagined it to be. What he learned was very different to what he does now, more structured and rigorous. Alas, Finn decided the way of creating art in an academic setting simply wasn’t for him.
“I quit three years in,” he laughs, scratching the back of his neck. “It wasn’t bad, it was just different to what I wanted to do, so I didn’t enjoy the process very much. Since quitting, I fell into drawing more childish, cartoon-ish pieces, and fell in love with this. I’m happier and am having much more fun.”
Finn says that after doing more detailed pieces in art school, he realized he was more drawn to simplistic pieces.
“If I’m going to draw a flower, I draw the most basic flower I can think of. My colour schemes are pretty basic too, even if they are rather vibrant. All the colours go well together, like violet and yellow. Ultimately, I’m trying to create a feeling of joy and fun for those looking at my art,” he says.
The French artist’s pieces take inspiration from the smallest things in daily life, whether it’s his boyfriend’s houseplants, something he’s read in a book, or simply a thing he sees on his way to work. Sometimes, he also draws inspiration from Pinterest and other online platforms.
“Again, I start with a simple sketch of whatever it is I want to illustrate, then I begin adding details. I spent less time on details when I draw traditionally or use watercolour because I pay more attention to the tools and the feel of the paper. If I draw digitally, however, I spend way too long on the details because I forget myself,” he says, the corners of his mouth quirking upwards slightly.
He avoids working on several pieces at once, fearful it jumbles his brain. It can even send boredom to his door, opening up for the ever-feared creative block to creep in.
“If I get a creative block, it’s probably also because I put too much pressure on myself, which is when I turn to my little sketchbook. I constantly carry a small sketchbook that is just for my eyes, where I can draw and sketch free of judgement and pressure,” he says.
Expression through art, children’s illustrations, and joy from creation
As an introvert, the artist explains he hasn’t always been able to speak up as much as he would have loved to. Art has, thus, given him a way to express himself without words.
“It’s also a way for me to just wind down at the end of the day, to be with myself and just enjoy doing something. Of course, I would love to make a living from something I enjoy, but I’ve always primarily made art for myself,” he says.
Though art is created in his own space, Finn does share his work online. With nearly 30,000 followers on TikTok, he shares his creations, day-to-day artist frustrations, and snippets of his process.
“I actually had my first Etsy sale because of content I shared on TikTok, so I’m very happy I began sharing content there,” he says, before adding, “It was a little hard to start posting videos though. I hated it at first, but now that I know how to, I’m enjoying it more and more. I love seeing what others think of my art.”
The artist says that most of his feedback has been positive and very supportive, which he had not expected. Initially, he had been quite nervous to share his work.
“I think the art scene, especially here in France, can be a bit pretentious and even elitist, but social media allows small and unconventional artists to reach all sorts of people. I get lots of comments saying my style is very cute and fun, which is what I’m going for!”
“Fun” is an important theme in Finn’s work, evident in its bright colours and cute characters. The illustrations can only be described as sweet, warm, and comforting. Filled with cute bunnies and cats, Finn’s art is supposed to reflect his own joy during the creative process. In the long run, he’s hoping to break into the world of children’s illustration.
“I mean it’s all baby steps, but I’m trying to work my way towards illustrating kid’s books or magazines. That’s the goal, I guess,” he says.
For now, the artist’s work contains themes of happiness and glee. He wants to continue this, but his goal is to eventually use his art to address anxiety, stress, and mental health in children.
“I was a nervous child, so I want to encourage young children to express their feelings. I think it’s very important to create a safe space for kids to be emotionally vulnerable, and I want to do that in an uncomplicated, natural way for those kids,” he says.
At the end of the day, Finn’s favourite part about creating art is the connection he creates between himself, his art, and other people. No matter the size, he’s proud of the impact he makes on anyone.
“It’s amazing to know that something I drew on my tiny desk in my tiny home had an impact on anyone else. I love that,” he says.
“I hope everyone learns to find joy in art, but solely for themselves. I focused so much on my grades during school that when I look back on the pieces I created, I can see that I was not in a good space. I created them when I wanted to be someone else. I think everyone should just create whatever makes them happy.”
Social Media & Website
Online shop: www.etsy.com/shop/Finnfinnou