Artist Spotlight

Getting Weird with Joel Erkkinen

Let’s dive into the mind that brought us the Twurkey.

Portfolio | Facebook

Reading Time | 3 minutes

Can you describe your influences and/or artistic process?

For medical, I tend to be influenced and inspired by Architectural render; creating a believable environment is key for medical animation. All my creative work starts with a simple and usually funny idea. My brain generally has lots of crazy crap floating around but if an idea makes me laugh then I always run with it. Usually that means I make something that is funny yet uncomfortable for people to watch—though they aren’t sure why they are uncomfortable and laughing at the same time. That means I have succeeded. If I am working in 3d, I generally “sketch” in 3d. Since my creative free time is fairly limited, I cut as many corners as possible. I will buy or download free models and modify them extensively to fit my needs. I love using physical drawing tools like pencil and paper, but for efficiency sake I use my Surface Pro with the Kyle Webster brush presets. I have always made my art in this way. I use whatever tool possible to get the weird things out of my noggin and into a visual form.

Joel’s sense of humor is on full display in The World’s First Twurkey!”

Now, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an Army Brat so I moved many times growing up including a 3 years in Germany. I believe this profoundly affected my art as well as my adaptability. I graduated college with a BA in Studio Art and had always been obsessed with animation.  Further schooling seemed a bit daunting and I knew I had the drive to teach myself animation. I landed an internship at a studio and within 6 months I had taught myself enough of Autodesk’s Maya to land a job. Fifteen years later I am still working hard to make medical devices look badass. Outside of work, I have my creative endeavors. I like to do some long distance running and cycling. I try my best to be a great husband, father, and friend (sometimes not all in that order and never equal in percentage of “greatness”).

Any plans for the future?

I will be making a push to finish my animated short film “Spoil Boy”. I started the sequel to the much loved “The World’s First Twurkey” with “Beaches Love Twurkey” (working title). I want to complete an animation about Trump that will make him retweet it and say it’s “Sad”. I am looking forward to collaborating with local artists on projects. I recently completed illustrating my first book “ABCDeath” which will be out later this year so I will be doing promo stuff around town. 

Additional thoughts?

I thoroughly enjoy the Animation community here in the Twin Cities. As nerdy as we are, we can always get together and have a great time. I have met so many incredible people. The community really seems to want everyone to succeed. Nice Moves has become a big part of that mantra. We can all learn from each other and help one another improve. Nice Moves promotes the connections and learning to keep the Twin Cities in the limelight of our industry. 

“ASTROKNOT” – Joel’s latest short film

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