Text : Karin / Greenfingers
Fotos: Kreetta Järvenpää
Kreetta’s Floral Art
With her husband Juha, a teacher, and British shorthair cats Haruki and Tove, Kreetta Järvenpää lives in the
Finnish capital Helsinki. Over the years, the photo artist has developed a distinctive style of photographing
flowers, often against dark backgrounds.
Your flower still lifes could hang in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Is it the flower painting of the old masters
that inspires you?
I have often been asked that. I am inspired by the Dutch masters of the Golden Age, by the painters, their use
of light and, of course, the still lifes of flowers and nature. I‘ve been thinking about why I like these aesthetics
so much, and I guess it‘s the idea of timeless immortality, or at least the feeling of it, that I love so much.
Of course, the beauty of the flowers is also inspiring. I try to block out place and time from my work and I‘m
working on that.
On your Instagram channel you sometimes show little glimpses of your studio. Is it part of your house? Please
tell us something about your studio..
I wish I had a house like that where I could have my studio, but unfortunately that‘s not the case. The workspace
I show on Instagram is a corner of a larger studio I share with two chefs and a food photographer. It is
located in Helsinki, in the Vallila district. It‘s a very good place to work because the natural light is really
good for still lifes. It‘s a bit too dark for portraits of people, but I mainly shoot flowers, still life and food.
The studio also houses my collection of vintage treasures and dried flowers. I also have numerous houseplants
that I inherited from my mother. When you‘ve spent eight years in a grey open-plan office like I did,
the longing for change is great. I wanted to create a magical place for me and my work that inspires me and
where my work comes easily to me. It‘s not a usual photo studio, but a real artist‘s workspace.
You once wrote that it costs you a small fortune to get the flowers for your artwork. Are there also regional
flower farms in Finland? Are you connected to the Slowflower movement?
People who know about flowers certainly have an idea of what the flowers in my photos are worth. But I use
the same flowers several times, I want to be more ecological and economical. I love slowflowers and there is
also a slowflower movement in Finland: www.slowflowersfinland.fi. I was able to work with Slowflowers
from May to October this year. I also grow some myself in my garden and sometimes I even get flowers as
gifts from friends. Slowflowers are still quite new in our country, but I hope that this kind of flower culture
will become more and more popular. I would also like to see Finnish horticultural businesses, which have
their own facilities, expand their range to include cut flowers. I realise that this cannot happen overnight, but
we really need to rethink how and where the flowers we use are grown. We only have one planet. I don‘t expect
flowers grown here in Finland to be cheaper, but I am willing to pay more if we get environmentally
friendly grown flowers in return. Yes, I have spent a lot of money on flowers so far, but it has always been a
Do you have your own garden?
Yes, I have a small garden. We share the garden with four families, but I am the only one who grows cut
flowers. We like to describe our garden as slightly decadent, with a French flair. But unfortunately we are
moving away from here soon and I very much wish I could have a garden again. As it is a big effort for me to
grow the flowers myself, I appreciate our Slowflower farmers so much. They provide me with the material I
can use to create. So I can concentrate fully on my photography. But maybe I will also become a good gardener
- one day.
Tell us how you plan and arrange your flower arrangements.
I usually choose the flowers according to certain colours, shapes and textures. The most planning is done for
me once I have chosen the flowers. Then I let them guide and direct me. I am very intuitive and creative
when dealing with the flowers. While I have an idea of what I want to achieve - mood and look - that can
change during the design process. For me, rushing with flowers is like throwing money out of the window.
Of course, I realise that you have to work quickly in a flower shop, but I try to enjoy them every second.
When I‘m working with them, I don‘t have to hurry except when the light is fading and I‘m still desperate to
take a photo.
I use wire mesh and Flower Frogs to help me with the pinning. I have also worked with branch supports, but
I find that more difficult. My focus is always on the flowers, less on the accessories. In fact, a lot of greenery
is imported from far away. When I work with wholesale flowers, I make sure they come from Europe if possible.
I always shoot with a tripod and set up the arrangement for the camera. The camera flattens the arrangement
so I have to pay closer attention to how the flowers are arranged. For example, the composition and quantities
have to be very balanced to give a harmonious overall picture. It‘s very different from arranging flowers
for a set table.
Before you offered your own workshops, you attended a few yourself. Are there any that you recommend?
Oh, I miss workshops! I highly recommend the floral workshops by Emily @fleuropean and Susanne
@the_blue_carrot. Also, I dream of attending a workshop in France by @thefrenchmuse as I love vintage,
antique and creative themes. Also, I wouldn‘t say no to a little retreat in Tuscany by @sisterhood_retreats. I
also find many interesting workshops at @acecampstravel. My big dream is to organise a workshop in Venice
in winter one day. I would travel by train, of course.
This year you developed the exhibition „Bee Kind“. You wanted to draw attention to the death of bees. Will
the exhibition be shown again?
It has already been shown in two galleries, but I haven‘t had time to offer it to another gallery yet. There are
always new ideas in my head that I would like to realise. Nevertheless, I would like to go on tour with my
bees and maybe even develop the exhibition further. Sometimes I feel like I need a few more hands and extra
hours in the day!
Winters in Finland are dark. Can you take photos at all during this time?
From November to the end of January it is very difficult to take photos with natural light in Finland. I can
use flash, but I don‘t like it that much. Besides, it‘s more environmentally friendly to work without flash.
During the darkest time in December, there is enough light for about one to one and a half hours. But sometimes
there are days that are much too dark. The answer would be not to take pictures, but I just have to. I
admit it is exhausting. I have to plan everything well, make the arrangements beforehand and be quick when
What do you like about winter?
I love snow. I like how it creates silence. Everything slows down. I especially like those grey winter days
because then the light is perfectly soft and the snow reflects very well. I find winter very calming and you
can just slow down. For my studies I was in the north, in Rovaniemi, where you could sometimes see the
northern lights. At least once in winter I just want to lie down in the snow and watch the snowflakes swirl
through the air. Moon, stars and some snowflakes, what else do you need in February? Maybe wool socks, a
long, warm jacket, gloves and a thick woolly hat....
What are your plans for the future?
That‘s a good question, because at the moment my future is very open. We have to move out of our house
next summer and need a new one. I dream of an old house with high ceilings and lots of bright north-facing
windows. Then I would like to have a garden with old apple, cherry and plum trees, raspberry bushes, perennials
and a greenhouse. Maybe I could also set up my studio there... Is that too much to ask, do you think?
As for my career, I want to continue with my floral art, expand my online shop, do more co-working and
workshops, and organise cool and experimental exhibitions. And I like to get involved in saving our planet,
at least I try to be an ambassador. You can follow my journey on Instagram: @kreettakreetta.
You can find out about new exhibition dates via Kreetta‘s homepage and buy her fine art prints and puzzles made in
Finland in the online shop.
They are very special Christmas presents!
Together with the other creatives Timo and Nikita, Kreetta has developed the Botanist App. Installed on your smartphone
or tablet, you can use it to create meditative flower mandalas. IG: @thebotanistapp