Erik Bruun was born in Viipuri on the 7th of April, 1926. His family lived in Viipuri’s parish, in a town called Säiniö. Other products of this town are textile artist Kirsi Rantanen, interior decorator Yrjö Kukkapuro, and designer Oiva Toikka. Säiniö lies about ten kilometers from Viipuri. There, the Bruun family owned a successful breeding henhouse, taken care of by the family’s mother. Erik’s playmate was his big brother Kaj, who was 3.5 years older and would grow up to be a gardener and organic farmer.
Sports were dear to Erik’s heart. Together with his brother Kaj, they rowed a self-made rowboat to Stockholm and back. From Stockholm, they continued to Oslo to meet their relatives, traveling by tandem bicycle. Airplanes and aircrafts were also a point of interest, and in the 1940s, Erik built a glider, whose wingspan was 3,5 meters.
After the war, Erik’s home ended up behind the eastern border and the family left Säiniö, moving several times until eventually settling down in Kauklahti in Espoo, where they bought four hectares of land. Erik was called to the army in 1945, and during his service, he would attend night school at the School of Applied Arts in Helsinki. After two years of night school, Erik was admitted to daytime classes. He was already competitively successful during his school years; for example, during the academic year 1947-48, he won the Kaunis Koti-magazine’s cover contest, and claimed a prize of 3500 mark.
The career takes off
Erik’s skills began to grow along with his studies at Messuosamistamo and Kuvamainos OY. As a result of an office-wide contest held by Kuvamainos OY, Erik produced his first printed poster, for Ayshire’s 50th annual show. During 1951-53, he worked for Ilmoituskeskus OY, but decided to become an independent commercial artist, a freelancer, in 1953.
The golden age of posters
Independent commercial artists were quite sought after due to the rapidly recovering economy. Back then, newspapers didn’t have colored ads, and while TVs were slowly joining the advertising media selection, it would be several years before it replaced colored ads as the leading builder of brands. Erik was living in the golden age of posters, and his work was in high demand. His customers included Hufvudstadsbladet, Hartwall, Havi, as well as tourism associations and many
Concern about the nature
It was in the beginning of the 1960s that Erik first began to worry about the state of our environment, after hearing news about the terrible consequences of improperly disposed chemical waste. The white-tailed eagle was close to extinction as a result of agricultural compounds, such as DDT, being dumped into the Baltic Sea. In 1963, Erik’s white-tailed eagle poster was printed for the first time, a total of 1500 posters printed as a gift by Ralf von Frenckell. Since then, said poster has been printed over tens of thousands of times, and perhaps it has had some impact on the survival and current well-being of the white-tailed eagles.
The Saimaa Ringed Seal
After this, nature continued to be a strong, recurring theme in Erik’s work. The Saimaannorppa, Saimaa’s ringed seal, was created in 1974, modeled after a ringed seal in Tampere’s aquarium. Erik managed to befriend a lone seal, and says the seal smiled after seeing his drawing. According to
specialists, the ringed seal does not smile, but Erik strongly disagrees.
Traveling as well as representing Finland across the world has also been very important to Erik. Finland’s nature is unique, and according to Erik, this fact isn’t accented enough in our country’s presentation. Thus Erik has designed and produced tens of posters that show off our environment through specific details. Even the 1980s logo of the Tourism Promotion Center (Matkailun Edistämiskeskus (MEK)) was designed by Erik.
For the forest Industry
The forest industry has been Erik’s most significant employer. Finncell and Kymi Kymmene (nowadays known as UPM). Together with his good friend, Henrik Tikkanen, Erik created Finncell’s 1960’s annual review, and after 1962, Erik designed Finncell’s annual reviews by himself until the company’s termination in 1995. In the 1980s and 90s, Finland was one of the world’s biggest forestry exporter, with over two tonnes per person.
Erik’s most popular illustrations are usually used in his partners’ productions. For example, in the years 2010-2012, Vallila Interiors produced an incredibly well-received series of fabrics and drapes using Erik’s designs, and for this incoming winter of 2017, Erik and Vallila will once again be working together to produce something new.
Erik is now 91 years old, and he still works with graphic design every day from dawn ’till dusk. This year, Erik’s series of postage stamps were released, along with a spread of commercial posters. Brainstorming for ideas and bringing those ideas to life are the best sources of energy to keep the artist active. Erik meets with producers from all around the world almost on a daily basis, and he gives lectures at a variety of events, including the openings to his own exhibitions.