Illustrator, graphic designer and long-time teacher of freehand drawing at the former University of Art and Design, Sakke Yrjölä (b. 1972) has for the past decade focused on his own projects and his great passion: fish. In the nonfictional book Suomen Kalat (Fish of Finland) (Nemo 2015), Yrjölä presented detailed watercolor paintings of all 71 species of fish living in Finnish waters. The texts were written by Hannu Lehtonen, Professor of Fisheries Science at the University of Helsinki, and Kari Nyberg, teacher of fish and fisheries biology. The book was honoured in the Most Beautiful Books of the Year competition, and Otava published a new expanded edition of it in 2021. Yrjölä has also produced posters, postcards and gift items. 

Now he is working on his next major work, Pohjolan kalat (Fish of Scandinavia). The exhibition at Gallery Kuvitus will feature illustration originals from the forthcoming book: hand-painted species-identification images of fish from the North-east Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Among the species that have been immortalised are the rabbit fish, the rainbow-coloured greater argentine, the tadpole fish, the small redfish, the hake, the common dragonet and many others. In addition to the technically masterful print, what makes Yrjölä’s project special is that the illustrator has been there in person to capture and document the species. This is because the colours of the fish start to change as soon as they are taken out of the water, which is why it is important for the photographer to capture the catch fresh, scale by scale. Catching fish in the areas where they occur also provides important information on the ecology of the species.

Sakke Yrjölä’s fish illustrations are both functional species identification images that meet the needs of fishermen and artistic illustrations that showcase the endless wonder and diversity of endangered marine life.

Welcome to meet the illustrator Sakke Yrjölä at the gallery on Sundays, February 25. and March 10. from 12:00 to 16:00.


Upcoming exhibitions


Tuuli Haapio


Janne Korsumäki


Anja Reponen


Meria Palin