Inside the Work of Anton Pitkänen, Winner of MvVO's Ad Art Show 2020

Helsinki graphic designer picks up special Clio Award

Helsinki-based freelance graphic designer Anton Pitkänen creates intricate, contemplaive artworks in order to "shut down the outside world" and gain much-needed perspective, he says. "I often spend hours and days weaving, braiding and dyeing materials. The slow and long process is balancing and healing, and works as a platform for facing and processing myself."

This week, Pitkänen won the top prize and a special Clio Award for excellence in contemporary art at the third-annual MvVO Ad Art Show. The competition honors artists from the world of advertising.

He impressed a jury chaired by Laura Skoler, who sits on the board of the New Museum in New York, with evocative pieces such as "Talk by the River," an example of his free-hanging, cloth-like pieces of art—this one created over two months using tissue paper dyed with tea and acrylic paint:

"The work is about stopping by your own mind, reflecting on it and on yourself—a very conscious, meditative moment," Pitkänen tells Muse. "Maybe there were rapids before, maybe there will be rapids as you continue down the river, but this moment clearly is a very calm riverside. The water is still, reflecting a warm-toned sky and setting sun. Water lilies are in full bloom, floating on the mirror-like surface."

He believes art and commercial design represent "two sides of the same coin. In design, you use your tools and analytics to solve a problem and to reach the end goal. In art, you use your tools and inner voice to bring you to the end result." Both disciplines, the artist says, require a keen understanding of style, color and form—as well as an intense commitment to craft.

At the show, two other winners emerged from hundreds of entries.

Mexico City-based Jessica Alazraki scored with work such as "Together," an exploration of Latino family life:

And David Straange from New York tallied with efforts including "New Moon," which seeks to capture the frenetic energy of urban existence:

Through Sept. 30, the Oculus at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York will display 135 Ad Art Show pieces on its giant video screens. Another show sponsor, VRwaibaio, will create a 3-D digital gallery to house the works, which are for sale online via the Artsy gallery platform.

"We are making history! We are bridging the gap between the art and advertising worlds by championing the next generation … following in the footsteps of famous artists like Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Mark Rothko and countless other now-famous artists who came from the advertising world," says MvVO Art/Ad Art Show chief executive and founder Maria van Vlodrop.

Pitkänen also won a creative immersion day at NBCUniversal—the show's presenting sponsor—and all three honorees will receive professional critiques to help boost their careers.

In addition to the Clio Awards, other Ad Art Show sponsors and partners include: Westfield, 600 & Rising, Artnet, Artsy, Artful Circle, The One Club for Creativity, WPP, GroupM, Zenith, Morzy and MRY, the School of Visual Arts, The Downtown Alliance, NYCxDESIGN, Franklin Furnace, Lawlor Media Group, the Gradient, To Practice_Practice, Gameday Creative, Corea Creative and Eataly.

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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