Sorry Thanks I Love You
0 Cart

The Helsinki Bus Station Theory

The Helsinki Bus Station Theory, developed by Finnish-American photographer Arno Minkkinen, essentially paints an artist’s career as a trip starting at Helsinki’s central bus station.  There are several different buses that depart from the two dozen white platforms in central Helsinki every day, and all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city.

Minkkinen would have it that each stop represents a year in the life of the artist.  You choose a bus line (a career direction) and after three stops, you’ve built up an impressive body of work in one particular style – platinum prints of nudes for example. 

“You take those three years of work on the nude to the [gallery], and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn,” Minkkinen explains. “His bus, 71, was on the same line.” 

Shocked and disappointed by your lack of originality, you hail a cab, head back to the main station and choose a different bus line.  But three years later, the same thing happens.    

"This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others."

So what's the answer?  "It's simple,” says Minkkinen.  “Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus."

While the buses stay on the same line for the first part of the journey, after a couple of kilometres they begin to separate, with each number heading off to its own unique destination.  Only by staying on the one bus, Minkkinen explains, can you find your own true artistic vision.

Which, we think, might just explain the quirky brilliance of Finnish illustration.  

The similarities between the plump, white, cartoonish Moomin and Aarrekids’ textile designer Piia Keto’s simple black line drawings surely suggest that she and Tove Jansson were fellow commuters on line 71. 

But Piia’s most recent illustrations for Finnish clothing brand Aarrekids – all googly eyes, squiggly legs and pastel splodges –are proof that she, for one, stayed on the bus.

Since being established in Helsinki five yeas ago, Aarrekids have produced some of the finest textile design in Scandinavia.  

“From the beginning, the idea was to tell stories,” says owner Sanna Myllys. “Something to feed the child's imagination.”

By collaborating with some of the best textile designers and illustrators in the country, Aarrekids have taken childrens clothing to the next level.  Their whimsical, rocket and enchanted forest-printed bloomers and bodysuits capture the true spirit of Finalnd – and are essentially tiny machine washable artworks. 

“We can use imagination and colors, without the pressure of trends,” says Sanna.  “We have also made Aarrekids into a brand that is transparent.  We include the values of professional design, unique illustrations, ecology and ethics in the same product.”

Indeed, Aarrekids’ partnerships with chartities and organisations that provide care for premature babies (a link with CEO Johanna Parviainen’s past life as a nurse) and use of non-toxic dyes, and eco-friendly, organic cotton are certainly not typical of a country’s fastest growing children’s brand.

“I don't think that Aarrekid's success is depending on something that we do, and others don’t,” says Sanna.  “It is more the way we do it.” 

Staying on the bus, for example. 


Check out Aarrekids' bodysuits, bloomers and tops.