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About EV

Hi, I’m Elaine Vitikainen. I’m a Visual Practitioner based in Helsinki. What I do:

  • Creative facilitation that incorporates the practical and effective use of visuals
  • Support communication processes by placing organisational communication into visual context.
  • Illustrate for the International Development field
  • Create surface Pattern design for placement prints and repeat patterns.

My background is in Linguistics, Communication and International Development. I have a Masters degree in Communication for Development from Malmö University, Sweden and a certificate in Applied Linguistics specialised in Multi-lingual Education from Dallas International University, USA. I have over 15 years experience in organisational development and leadership based in Cambodia and Laos, and have provided consultancy support in strengthening organisations across Asia which includes countries such as Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

I created this website to give you an idea of what EV Visuals does in the world of visualisation. In short, what is visualisation, what can visuals do, what are the different types of visuals and how can we be more visual people. There are links to some of my visual works too! This website is also a revamp of the EV Facilitation and Visuals website as told here.

So wherever you are in your visual journey, welcome to my website. Let’s continue to inspire each other!

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Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19

Everyone is talking about COVID-19. The disruption to the normal days is huge. Some people are understandably concerned about elderly or vulnerable relatives. Many entrepreneurs are worried about the financial consequences. Multiple work contracts are being cancelled at an alarming rate. The security of being fully booked over the next months has suddenly been replaced by great uncertainty about the future.

Some are looking on the positive side. They hope it might be a time of healing for the earth as there are less flight emissions and less air pollution from factories. Some even see it as an additional occasion to spend with the family, a moment for self-learning, for re-evaluation and even, an opportunity for the elusive, but much needed rest.

For me it brought multiple sides. Being an introvert and an entrepreneur who works mostly from home, the effect was subtle, almost difficult to describe. My small entrepreneur endeavour just turned a year old when the pandemic started. I was ready to apply what I learned over the past year and I was certain that this year will be better. My small business was being established. I had a line-up of work. And after all, Wuhan is far away from Helsinki.

By March, the borders were closed. Since most of my work involves travelling and the gathering of people, I knew that most of my work are cancelled. Any possibility of future work is now unforeseen. The present reality became overwhelming. I had to find the best way to manoeuvre in this new situation. However, as a visual practitioner, I know visuals have no borders. Visuals are not confined to the four corners of my flat. Visuals have spoken words. With these in mind, I created letterings with messages of hope. I drew fun illustrations to get to the lighter side of the pandemic. I made illustrations to portrait the heroism of the front-liners. I even drew hands to remind people of personal hygiene! Drawing each day gave me the peace and stability I needed. My illustrations gave me a way to communicate to the world.

Then I was asked to draw illustrations for COVID-19 prevention materials. Many resources are already published by international organisations but illustrations that will speak to the local context are needed to reach out to people who belong to the lesser known languages. These illustrations are now being used by different organisations as they produced COVID-19 materials for local languages.

In a very unexpectedly way, visual creation became my small contributions in times like this. Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19.

As a visual practitioner, what is your unique contribution in this time of crisis? How can your visuals reach out to others?

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Font creation

As a font creator, the making of every set of fonts is both fulfilling and relaxing. It is so much fun to use the fonts that I created in my work because it incorporates my entire self and gives a sense of uniqueness. My work becomes my whole being!

One of the difficulties in creating fonts is not knowing what to name them. So I decided to call them according to the song playing at the time of creation. I thought it was a cool solution!

Font creation also involves poster making to allow a quick presentation of how the fonts look like. Here are some of the fonts I’ve created lately. The link to these fonts for download is found here.

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Print on demand

How does it feel to wear a shirt that you know no one on earth has the same or even similar shirt to what you are wearing? Well to be honest, it feels totally amazing! The print on demand is really a great concept where things are made per order. It’s said that in the near future, production surplus will not be an issue anymore. Those storage full of unsold stuff will be a thing of the past. Offline shopping might even disappear. Things will only be made to order. And there’s a uniqueness to that. Soon the days will also be over where you might see someone wearing the same clothes as you. Furthermore, it will be the new normal for everyone. Think about it!

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A Stamp brush maker?

I never knew that making Stamp brushes for Procreate will become a natural part of me. I enjoy making them. I actually love the process. Very simple, such fun! My collection could easily be up to 50 designs now. I’m happily sharing the link here to access them. Although at the moment, there are only very few designs uploaded because I’m still testing the proper way to distribute them. In time, I will upload more.

Are there Stamp brushes that would be useful for you? Let me know. I’ll see if I can create them. My hope is to come up with a set of Stamp brushes that would be useful for our work as Visual Facilitators, designers, illustrators but also as hobbyist. This fabric design, for example, was made with Stamp brushes.

A Procreate Stamp Brush maker? Well, I’ve become that person!

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Yay! One year!

EV Facilitation and Visuals turned 1 year on the 5th of February 2020. Yay! On the 13th of February, a revamp was made. Changing its name to EV Visuals (Facilitation is really long), change of email address (elaine@ev-visuals.com) and this new website. It was also a time to celebrate (getting a real cupcake, for instance) and be thankful. Thanks to everyone who journeyed with us over the year!

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For the love of (your own) font

After drawing your letters like you mean it, it’s time to create your own font. Creating your own font is a quick and easy process once you know what works for you. I’ve been trying to create my fonts for some years now. But I’ve never really been very happy with them once they were generated. Nevertheless, I kept on going. Forming every letter has a very calming effect on me. All my illustrations are, in fact, handwritten.

But guess what? Font creation is never as easy with the iFontMaker App. I basically created a set of font in less than 15 minutes which I made available here called Pie font. More to come!

So have fun and start creating. If you have any questions about my process in making my fonts or how to use iFontMaker, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Please post the fonts you’ve created too. It will inspire many!

More fonts for download are available here: https://elainevitikainen.com/fonts-created-by-elaine-vitikainen/

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Draw your letters like you mean it!

One of my most embarrassing moments as a facilitator has to do with handwriting. I was in front at the workshop, introducing to the participants what we were going to do over the next few days. My co-facilitator, with all good intention and the wisest brain, tried to summarise my introduction in a visual form. It was a great summary with a well-thought content but in terms of handwriting, it was totally unreadable. Although it was not my handwriting, this mortifying episode pierced deeply in my consciousness that I vowed to myself to work on improving my handwriting. This personal pledge even became fierce when I started working with another facilitator who has the most illegible handwriting ever.

I always had a good handwriting but I went astray when I started writing everything on the computer. Now, I try to practice writing by hand as much as I can. I try to draw my letters like I mean it! Within a few months, I’ve really seen how much improvement has happened.

People have been asking me tips on handwriting. Aside from telling them to draw letters with confidence and in the most beautiful way possible, it is also important to start with your own handwriting. For me, this is crucial because I find it important to show your character in your handwriting. I think it’s nice to be able to associate yourself with your handwriting, to be able to mark your letters as your own.

In one of my workshops, I gave the participants very cheap lined practice writing papers intended for third graders. You see, it doesn’t have to be special and expensive papers to get practicing. We practiced writing upper case and lower case letters, a mixture of upper and lower case letters, cursive and in any fonts they like. What was important was to draw each letter with the intention to make them look good and most especially, readable. It is also good to look at different fonts created by other people for learning and inspiration.

Any blank surface has the potential to be written on. Any pen is good than having no pen at all. So find time to practice. As one girl came up to me at the cafe to tell me how beautiful my handwriting is, one day you will be proud of yours too. That I can assure you!

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Who invented the Name Tags?

My closest colleagues know that I’m not a name tag lover. Of course, I understand the significance of name tags. Our individual names are very important and wearing name tags is another way of presenting ourselves, of silently introducing ourselves, of saying, “I’m here!”. Name tags are also important for facilitators. Facilitators don’t need to remember all the participants’ names by heart. The name tags will do it for the facilitators.

I know that a name tag is just a small thing that hangs around the neck. They are either in white, in blue or in another colour. But sometimes they are bigger than the nose and eyes put together. They also present no personality whatsoever. In an event, everyone will be wearing the same name tag. And so I love to draw hearts, to letter my name or to not wear the name tag at all. It’s just NOT so creative!

So it was quite a surprise for me when I entered the meeting room of the Creative Facilitation workshop by Partners for Youth Empowerment in Brussels. I was expecting a person sat by the desk armed with name tags, ready and eager to have the participants hang them excitedly around their necks. But no, I was greeted by three tables covered in art supplies. There were different kinds of pens, different colours of papers, stickers, glue, strings, scissors… It was time to create your very own name tag and I really love this idea.

And so I decided to adopt this to my workshops, the very first one was the Visualisation Workshop I facilitated in the Philippines. It was a success. Participants came in and created their own name tags. I sensed the eagerness in the air and all the creative juices flowing. It was fun. In the end, different name tag personalities emerged. It was so lovely to witness the process and to see the beautiful outcome. So let’s do it again!

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Visuals as a form of communication?

Do you allow yourself to use visuals as a form of communication?

— Malte von Tiesenhausen.

Many years ago, people were saying that handwriting is going to die soon. And I really believed it as I’ve noticed how my beautiful cursive handwriting was turning into full capital letters. I used to love composing handwritten letters on beautiful papers, then mailing them to the rest of the world. Then I stopped all together. Gone were the days of waiting for the postman, of smelling the scented stationeries, of admiring the stamps on the envelopes. Taking notes was all made on the computer too. Mind you, I can take notes verbatim on my computer. I can’t even recall having a notebook until I feel in love with a stationery covered in red leather that I saw in one shop in Bangkok. The year was 2011 and I knew I was back on. I started writing by hand again. I felt liberated. I felt I was on the right path. But, I was not there yet. At that time, I didn’t even know I was going somewhere.

Then slowly, my lined notebooks were replaced with sketchbooks. Instead of endless linear text, I was arranging my notes in different ways. Illustrations too became part of my note-taking. I went on visualising my thoughts and my ideas. I also started visualising recipes and my travel adventures. Then visualising spilled over to my role as a facilitator. Agendas and processes were presented in visuals. I visualised documents, organisational communication processes, talks, reflections and many different kinds of information, including CVs and self introductions. Communicating in a creative way through the process of arranging information visually has awaken my creativity. I was better at expressing myself. It was also very engaging. People responded to my visuals better than if I’ve written only in text. Workshop participants become more participative and inspired to be creative themselves. For most part, I don’t use my computer when I facilitate. I even stop using powerpoint.

Furthermore, my love for anything handwritten and hand drawn returned. I love illustrating cards and mailing them. My heart jumps for joy when I receive hand drawn pictures. I love composing handwritten notes. I would even love to send you one!

Where are you in your visual journey? Are you staying no to the death of handwriting?