My Corners: Ville Nordström

Ville Nordström
Age 16
Studying to become a youth leader
Participates in Youth Activity Center Happi’s street art and graffiti projects, taking photos and videos

Youth Activity Centre Happi and Hattumedia
“In 2015, I was elected to the Ruuti Core Group, which is the Youth Council of the city of Helsinki. It consists of twenty members, aged thirteen to seventeen, who work to advance initiatives and issues that are important to young people. Through Ruuti I ended up in Hattumedia, which is a media house in Youth Activity Centre Happi. I had been to Happi before that, when I was about ten years old. Anyway, in Hattumedia, young people create content for other young people. For example, you can get to shoot and edit video and do audio work. Some Hattumedia productions are released through YouTube and social media, and some end up in the city’s Mun Stadi websites, and of course all the creators can publish their works through their own channels and accounts. Basically anyone can get involved in Hattumedia, just contact Reijo, Elina, or Risto who work there. They help you to get started and show how everything works.”

Street Art Office Supafly
“When I was in Hattumedia, I got to know the producer of Street Art Office Supafly, Antti Salminen. The first thing I did with Supafly was a time-lapse video of a graffiti painting session in Happi’s loading dock, which started the cooperation. The Street Art Office promotes street art in Helsinki, and is involved in many street art events and projects. I really respect the city of Helsinki in the sense that it has an actual street art office that makes a lot of things happen. I know that some days Antti works around the clock to keep things rolling smoothly. I really appreciate the work done there. I think that without the street art office the whole street art culture in Helsinki would be a lot more lukewarm and half-hearted. The problem is that many people do not even know that the office exists. The new online service at katutaidehelsinki.fi is a crazy good site. Fore example, look at the artist pool. One time in my home neighbourhood in Kannelmäki, a person was admiring the mural in the SItratori square, and they asked me who makes this kind of stuff and how can you contact them. Back then I said that they should contact the street art office, but now you can just go to the website and look up the mural on the map, see who has created it and find their profile in the artist pool. You can find contact information and pictures of other works by the artist there. It can lead to people commissioning more works from the artists, which is a great thing, since it can be hard to get a living making art, even if you’re a professional.”

If only the Young People Knew
“I wish more people knew about the workshops in the Street Art Office. Everyone who makes smudges on school walls or something should participate in a workshop and get to know how many open graffiti walls there are in Helsinki. A lot of people don’t know that anyone can go to paint on the walls. Without Happi, I wouldn’t know either that I too can just go and paint on the wall. I wish that every primary school student who is tagging the school toilet wall just knew that there’s an actual public wall that’s meant to be painted on. You can express yourself and make your message known to everyone. You can rap, you can make drawings, some people want to discuss their feelings with a psychologist, we all want to be seen and recognized i the sense that “hey, I’m over here and I exist!”. Graffiti can be seen really easily, and you can do it at any hour, if you just have enough light to see what you are doing. You don’t even need to be visually talented, you just need the drive to do it.”

Graffiti as an Art
“Street art and graffiti are forms of art just as any painting. Before Happi, I wasn’t particularly interested in graffiti, but I had noticed it and thought it was a lot cooler than a Mona Lisa painting on granny’s wall. By the way, my grandparents worked for the national railway company, and they always cursed about the railway carriages being painted, but I always thought that they looked kida cool. Graffiti takes such a strong stance and follows the times. I appreciate graffiti and street artists perhaps even more than traditional painters. I don’t have that kind of visual talent to paint myself. I think I’ve held a spray can only once. I think digital media is more my thing. I like the works of Jani Tolin and Igor Multi, and I think Jukka Hakanen makes some wicked cool stuff.”

On Youth Work
“I started going to Happi when I was really young, and it was kind of a safe haven for me. I got a good feeling each time I entered through the main doors, even the doorman was so pleasant and kind. You can stay long in the evening, as long as the doors stay open. You can do your homework in the lobby, for example. There’s also a lot of activity, such as the Boys’ House, Studio 1, Street Art Office, Hattumedia, and so on. It’s got everything that a regular youth centre doesn’t. So the name Youth Activity Center is a pretty fitting one.”

The map shows you Ville’s Corners. Click on a place to read what he has to say about it.

TEXT: KAROLIINA SAARNIKKO
PHOTOS: MIIKKA PIRINEN