Design is a gift.

Posted August 7th, 2015 in Blog, Business System Design, Illustration, Logo Design by Liina



Today I’ve been thinking about design from a different angle.

As a customer.

Recently I made a trip to one of my new favorite clothing boutiques. I love the shop’s interior design, its well-edited selection, the staff is enthusiastic, helpful and welcoming. I tried some things on, loved some, didn’t love some.

I left with a bag of new clothes in hand and a free tote bag (because I spent over a certain amount, oops and thanks).

The experience was so good that while I was the one spending money, I felt like I’d been given a gift.

(And I’m not referring to the free tote, although that was really nice and was like the cherry on top.)

The gift I had been given was one of a well-executed brand vision.

From the marketing that got me in the store, to the store itself, to the clothes and all the way to the end of purchase — I felt good.


Brands are experiences.


If done well, and implemented thoroughly throughout your client’s experience, a good brand is like a valuable gift.

And your customers won’t mind paying for that.



This post was not commissioned by or affiliated with Primp Boutique. 

Storyscapes: A Magical Collaboration

Posted November 8th, 2012 in Art, Blog, Illustration, Photography Art Direction by Liina

"Ucellino", Acrylic on canvas

The start of something.

It began when I created a painting for a friend’s baby shower gift. She requested two more paintings to go along with it, and I had so much fun doing it. These creations were what inspired the start of designing and illustrating animals and nature scenes that have a lighthearted, playful, yet modern and minimalist aesthetic.


A glimpse into a kid’s world.

Over the last year my husband, a photographer, and I were tossing around ideas on how we could collaborate. He had taken photos of our nieces and nephew on a white backdrop, and what really struck me during the shoot is how playful the kids are — naturally. Kids play. Kids don’t naturally sit still in front of a camera. They have wildly imaginative minds, and way too much energy for an idle portrait.


Portraits — with imagination.

Out of these ideas, the Storyscapes concept was born. At the heart of each creation is the goal of capturing a child’s imagination and playful nature.

Storyscapes Giraffe in Boots

Above: Sage’s mom brought along a few outfits for the shoot, and these crazy cute red rain boots, which became the playful visual that brought the whole piece together.

Storyscapes Logo Header

Above: A grouping of the high-quality canvas prints adds a cheerful, colorful yet modern touch to a child’s bedroom or nursery.

Spreading the magic!

We just launched the Storyscapes website this week, along with the Facebook page. Soon to come will be some sort of online ordering system for prints. So far we have gotten such wonderful feedback — thanks to everyone for your support! Our best advertising is word of mouth; thanks for spreading the word.

See more at

Like it?

Help us share our new adventure by liking Storyscapes on Facebook.

Allina Hospice Benefit Theme

Care, honor, love, give.

The annual gala is held in the spring each year. This year the gala benefits patients at the newly opened J.A. Wedum Residential Hospice.

I was hired to give the benefit a fresh new look, and one they could use over the next few years and simply change the color palette each year.

I created a logotype for the event, which highlights the word hospice:

And along with the logotype, I created a hand-illustrated pattern using my ink pen, which I then created a repeating pattern with fresh hues of orange, blue and green.


The pattern has flexibility. It can be changed in color, or pieces of the illustration can be pulled out on their own, as I displayed within the concept presentation:

The overall feel is uplifting. The event isn’t a sad one, but the challenge with designing for a hospice benefit is that “hospice” inherently has a grave tone as it does relate to the passing of life. But Allina’s approach is that hospice is about being able to enjoy life — however long or short the rest of it may be — and being able to provide people with a wonderful, beautiful, well-built and safe place to do that.

I used this pattern within the web banners, along with a ribbon of solid color or white, and the logotype and tagline overlaying it. Then my client was able to use these items with the in-house graphics department at Allina to create the invitation, posters, and other event materials.

For more information, visit Allina’s website.


Free Valentine’s Day Mini Cards

Posted February 14th, 2012 in Art, Blog, Illustration by Liina

When you can’t be there in person…

I wanted to send something unique to my husband, so I painted a heart and then made a few variations. Feel free to use them on Facebook, email, or whatever!

Happy Valentine’s to you all. I hope in some way it’s a special day.

Connie Kauppi, Shiatsu & Thai Yoga Massage

Posted November 23rd, 2011 in Art, Blog, Business System Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Logo Design, Portfolio by Liina

It’s all about energy (qi)

I met Connie, a shiatsu and thai yoga masseuse, one bright and sunny morning in a coffee shop in St. Paul. Literally, we had to wear our sunglasses in the coffee shop. She had called me the previous day, exclaiming that she was sick and tired of trying to design her own stuff, and was ready to take it to the next level. Of course, I was thrilled.

It turns out we both share some of the same design tastes. Both of us being from artistic Finnish families, we agreed there’s something in our blood that tends toward a simple, sparse, almost asian sensibility. I was even more thrilled that she likes my illustration style and wanted me to illustrate her stuff.

So after our meeting, Connie sent me a sketch of an idea that had come to her. The idea was a line connecting words, which I then extended into connecting to a tree. All of this ties nicely back to the idea of the flow of energy, or qi — the basis of shiatsu.

Now that’s good energy.

More to come

I also designed an email newsletter for her, which will be sent out soon. After she sends it, I’ll share it. Next will be her website redesign, which will also use this illustration style.

We are open.

Posted November 7th, 2011 in Art, Blog, Illustration by Liina

With a lot of elbow grease expended this weekend by my husband, my dad and I, my office is officially open for business.

I went with one of my personal favorite color palettes: Gray-blue walls with white, and pops of other bright colors throughout. Organic elements show up here and there, like the jute rug under the table and wooden storage boxes. Floor to ceiling white window panels diffuse the light from the big windows, and hide the radiator and other pipes.

We configured the space into three areas: Computer work, Painting/art work, and Meeting.

When you enter the room you see the meeting space, with a nice clean, white table and four chairs. (One is pushed back by the red book case.)

A brushed stainless steel light hangs over the meeting table.

I found this tree branch and bird vase this morning as I browsed for some decorations. As I cleaned it with glass cleaner, I found out it’s exactly the length of my arm. In case you were wondering.

My workspace. This area needs art, something big and beautiful…

This is my painting and illustrating corner. The stainless steel table is counter-height, and easy to clean.

I’m very excited to have this new environment to work in. I already feel more focused and productive. Well, once I’m done writing this blog and find some more coffee — I will be.

Feel free to stop by sometime!

Google Map

Bare Honey

Logo design, illustration, and website design

This project was a delightful one. Combining my skills in illustration and logo design along with web design was so fun. Starting from scratch and working closely with my clients, I was able to bring this lovely brand to life for lovely people.

What is “bare” honey, anyway?, you might wonder. Dustin and Grace Vanasse are entrepreneurs who are making honey in the purest way: By breeding (locally) big healthy bees that create the healthiest honey around. The end product: Treatment-Free Honey. You’d be surprised what the honey industry is getting away with these days. You can find out more details on their website.

In a nutshell, their honey is: “No Pesticides. No Antibiotics. No GMO’s. No Chemicals. All Natural and Treatment Free.”

But I can attest to taste: their honey is just better. It doesn’t have the overly syrupy flavor that a lot of commercial honeys do, which from my understanding is due to the fact that the Bare Honey is never mixed with anything extra, like corn syrup. (Rumor has it a lot of imported honey is not pure honey — eek!) Also, the bees on Bare Honey farms are never given antibiotics or other unnatural treatments to help them survive. You can also connect with the Bare Honey Facebook Page to get more information on this pivotal Treatment-Free honey movement.

The sweet process

It all started out meeting with Dustin and Grace, and just tasting the honey, talking about what makes it truly different, and what their visions were for the brand. I understood right away that I was dealing with a truly unique product, and the brand could be nothing less than that. Some of the words used to describe what we were after are: Nurturing, pure, smart, playful, unconventional, local and glowing.

What I envisioned was combining illustration, vivid color, all complimented by a restful, clean white background. I spent a lot of time sketching and illustrating different logos, farm scenes, beehives, flowers, pollen, and the like:

I got to enter my “happy place” quite often during this project. Time flies when I’m drawing.

From the illustration work, I extracted 3 different theme variations, of which they liked the most fun, illustrative one (also my favorite).

Website planning & design

It is an interesting challenge to translate a brand, especially one so steeped in the sense of taste and texture, to the web. It’s almost with a story-telling like feel that the homepage opens up with an outdoor illustrated scene as well as the a photo of the actual product — bringing the two worlds together.

The site also includes a retail area, a map with hive, store and restaurant locations, and more information on what Beyond Organic / Treatment Free means.

So, check it out. Buy some honey online, or stay tuned for availability on store shelves or CSAs near you.

Almond Puff Pastry, anyone?

Posted September 16th, 2010 in Art, Blog, Illustration by Liina

Food is love.

We all know someone who bakes or cooks with such passion and skill that every morsel they make is filled with that energy and love. For one of my best friends, that was her mother. I did this painting for that friend’s birthday recently in dedication to the love her mom shared with her, and all of us (her close friends) on our girls’ weekends when she would bake us a couple of these.


Detail of Frosting

As a sidenote: Painting food is something I hadn’t done before, but it was surprisingly satisfying. As I smeared on the frosting I wanted to make it appear edible. I think I drooled a little (I kept the canvas clean). My younger sister has inspired me to paint food with some of her own work — painting as well as baking. I think we should open a “bakery” gallery as a collaboration… zero guilt!

April Flowers

Posted April 11th, 2010 in Art, Illustration, Portfolio by Liina

Fresh, warm air. Trees budding. Warm sunshine. Spring is so inspiring! I had fun sketching in the sunshine this weekend, using my Japanese Sumi Brush pen. The color was added afterwards in Adobe Illustrator. I like the playful, innocent nature of the flowers and tree with the bird silhouetted in the sun on the branch.

Women Run the Cities

Posted February 16th, 2010 in Illustration, Information Graphics, Logo Design, Portfolio by Liina

I am a runner. Could I get a better project? I’ve had the privilege of designing the logo and materials for this race since 2007. In 2009 there were a record number of participants (just under 2,000). Going on its 4th annual year in 2010 they are expecting yet another increase in participation. It’s a very well organized race, and helps raise money for The Ann Bancroft Foundation and CREW Foundation.

For more information on the race, check out the Women Run the Cities website. (Not designed by me.)

Women (and girls) Run the Cities!

Map Design

Women Run the Cities, Map Design

Race T-shirt Design

Women Run the Cities, T-shirt Design