Tales from the Poster Hunter

Follow the adventures, and the thinking, of the Finnish poster hunter here. Each month the hunter reveals something almost breathtaking…

The Champagne Lady has been revealed!

Oct 21, 2020

The most iconic poster in the Poster Hunter’s collection is by far The Champagne Lady. This was the poster that started the whole adventure twenty years ago. The poster hung alone in the window of a Helsinki antique shop, just waiting for her savior. There and then, the Poster Hunter was born.

But during all these years, this question has been bothering him: who is this Champagne Lady?

The Poster Hunter knows that he has to get an answer to this, so he took a trip to the western parts of Espoo to meet the artist Jorma Suhonen’s daughter Tuula-Marja (born in 1941). Jorma Suhonen is one of the pioneers of Finnish poster art and he founded the legendary advertising agency SEK (where S stands for Suhonen).

 

So there we are sitting and casually chatting in a brand new apartment building close by the mall Iso Omena. But the Poster Hunter only has one thought in his head: Who is the lady in the poster?

After a while Tuula-Marja brings out an envelope containing photos in black and white. Studio photos. Stylish exterior images. A woman posing. And finally, she shows a profile picture of the same woman that is in the other pictures as well. Dark wavy hair and stylish, strong features. The photo was taken in 1939.

Tuula-Marja asks: Do you recognize her?

Then, together, with trembling hands, we place the photograph next to the Champagne Lady drawn in 1939. The room is quiet. Far behind the new residential buildings is the Gulf of Finland.

Then Tuula-Marja reveals: The Champagne Lady is my mother!

– Her name was Elna Lydia. She was a colorful person, living a full life: “when it went well, it went really well” and the complete opposite of my father, who had a delicate artist soul.

– She probably decided everything in our household. But my father loved her unreservedly. They had a good relationship, even after they parted.

It is no surprise that Finland became too small for Lydia / the Champagne Lady. Here she had worked in a store, but she wanted significantly more. She was longing for the Big World, and moved to England. There she remarried twice, which meant that Lydia was married a total of four times during her life. This was very rare in the old puritan Finland.

Tuula-Marja shows a guestbook from her childhood home. In the pages of the book we see that the great poster artists in the 1930s and 40s have been spending the evening, drawing, having fun, drinking wine, eating well. The writings are in Finnish, Swedish and English. Being able to touch the pages of a guestbook more than eighty years old is too much for the Poster Hunter. Tears have to be restrained as the past era speaks.

Tuula-Marja shows an oil painting hanging on the wall.

– This also pictures my mother. Guess who painted it?

The poster hunter will not be able to digest any more when the information comes:

– Tove Jansson. My parents were good friends with her.

As the Poster Hunter walks away, he is confused and happy. But there is only one mystery left: where exactly does the Champagne Lady sit, enjoying her champagne? Which restaurant is that?

Well, we will find out that in the next letter!

Do you want to meet the stylish Champagne Lady? It’s easily fixed! She is available on posters in different sizes, on a tray, as a fridge magnet, as a coaster, on wooden cards and on postcards.
To pay tribute to her and her contribution to poster art in Finland you now get -20% off all products with her with the code CHAMPAGNE. The offer is valid until October 26th. Cheers to that!

The poster isn’t lying

• August 7th, 2020
August – the International Holiday Month! Tourists from all over the world are flowing to Finland from near and far.

Or as we can read in a brochure from the 1930s: “GLORIOUS, thrilling and healthy holidays can be spent in Finland”

… Well, of course not this year. But so you can understand why Finland normally is such a popular travel destination, let the Poster Hunter shed some light on the matter.

The Finnish Tourist Association was founded in 1887 for patriotic purposes. It raised Finns to see that you really don’t have to travel to the mountains of Norway or to enchanting metropolises like London or Paris. No, they strongly emphasized that the adventure is at home.

Eventually, it was realized that the association had another big task: to attract people from Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, France and America to come to Finland.

How, then, should they prosper in this? By printing brochures (starting from the late 19th century), making tourist films (the first as early as 1911) … but above all by creating posters.

The association harnessed the task to the country’s best artists and illustrators – sometimes even foreign ones! – to spread the good news. These pioneers immediately realized that the target group must be international.

So with world-class confidence, the posters of small and unknown Finland began to send their awesome multilingual message: Venez avec moi en Finlande! or Auf nach Finnland zum Wintersport! or Finland – Land of Romance!

They suceeded. Who could have resisted the temptation when a woman in a national costume whispers that you, yes you, should come to Finland!

The rest is history. In the 1930s and 1950s, lofty tourists from all around the world suddenly stood on the windy pier of Helsinki with their suitcases. And they probably hoped that the promises of posters and brochures would come true in real life. After all they had learned:

“Finland is a country of western habits, even western luxuries, and hospitable to strangers”

In some miraculous way, the hosts succeeded in this. The posters had not lied, at least not completely. And that’s why, dear poster friends, that’s why Finland is so popular today.

The French Lady is coming home

• July 9, 2020 • Sometimes the Poster Hunter leaves his beloved archive to go hunting. He is a hunter, after all.

This happened recently when an auction house in France called for a poster auction with hundreds and hundreds of original, international travel posters. Among all these goodies the poster hunter had seen a true gem. There, in the middle of the catalogue was a poster, actually the only one, from Finland. The Ghost Lady. Our beloved ghost lady. In French – with the text FINLANDE.

The Ghost Lady is Finland’s most stylish traveler. She is a mythical adventurer of the 1930s, a lady of grandeur and courage, who through hardships made her way to the wild country in the north. To the land where the sun never sets – to Finnish Lapland.

The artist is the Swede Ingrid Bade, who lived in Finland for a while and during that time created some iconic Finnish travel posters. Bade had long been forgotten in Finland, but fifteen years ago the poster hunter started his sacred mission to give Bade the honor she deserves.

On the poster the Ghost Lady (or Bade) stands by the plains in Lapland and contemplates. She becomes one with nature. She is the epitome of what travel was and should be.

So when people from, what it seemed, the whole world started bidding at the auction the Poster Hunter immediately noticed that this was different. There were many out there who wanted to decorate their walls with her calm and wisdom.

The Poster Hunter began softly and thoughtfully, but as the bidding pace rolled up and the amount increased, he became increasingly convinced that much was at stake. It was about saving a piece of Finnish poster art and cultural heritage. It was about reuniting her with the motherland so that she could spend time with her peers and generational friends in Come to Finland’s unique poster collection.

There was electricity in the air when the auctioneer, a stylish middle-aged French lady shouted out the bids to the right and left.

But the Poster Hunter didn’t give up. Not when this much was at stake. In the end, it is he against an unknown stingy bidder, who is bidding over the phone. The hunter raises, the opponent raises, but with the hunter knowing what he wants the opponent – finally – folds and the gavel hits the table. The French Ghost Lady is coming home!

The poster hunter rushes to his other Finnish poster darlings in the collection to tell them  about the lost daughter who will soon return. And when he listens really carefully, he hears how they whisper: Bienvenue!

The English lady is eagerly waiting for her French friend in our webshop.

Magnus London, Poster Hunter

Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about our collection!

magnus.londen(at)cometofinland.fi

All you need is a (stylish) travel buddy

June 11, 2020

Summer 2020 is here! So now, as the world traveler you are, you might be walking around dreaming about, let’s say, Berlin, Balaton or the Bahamas?

Well, we all know that international travelling isn’t in the books for this summer. But instead, let’s think higher, better, and more exotic.

Let me take you on a journey through the land that has it all – Finland. How, you may wonder? Every truly successful journey requires a traveling companion. And a destination. May I present: The classic Finnish travel poster. Your friend and your destination.

Are you with me? Should we start with the great Finnish metropolises? (Actually we don’t have any, but don’t let that bother you)

With the help of a poster you can sit at an outdoor restaurant in downtown Helsinki, sip on a glass of champagne and wait for an interesting person to settle down at your table.

With the help of a poster you also learn that the city of Turku is the key to both the archipelago and the cradle of true culture. The stronghold of education!

With the help of a poster you understand that Tampere is the city where industry lives in harmony with green parks and happy bicycling city people.

Berlin? Poh. No match for the poster cities Helsinki, Turku and Tampere, right?

Good. Now let’s talk about the lakes.

In the poster of Lake Saimaa you stand up on a rock, in the middle of our national landscape, watching the proud pine trees, waving to the steamer down there. In Päijänne – the steepest lake in Finland – the water is truly azure and there eternity meets harmony on the horizon.

Balaton? Wonderful. But the Finnish lakes are waiting for you. And they are at least as wonderful.

Let’s continue with the beaches.

In Hanko, at the southwestern tip of Finland, you are more handsome than most people. Not to mention the sandy beaches of Lappeenranta where you smilingly play beach volley. And then we have the archipelago, where you as a man are muscular and you as a woman are otherwise just graceful.

The Caribbean? Well. We Finns have always boasted that we are realistic dreamers. And such people dream of places like Hanko, Lappeenranta and the Åland Islands instead.

These classic travel posters were created mainly in the 1930s and 1950s. They were created to attract foreign adventurers to exotic Finland.

The good news is that these posters still are around. So when you travel virtually to Finland this summer, make sure you have a good travel buddy and a destination.

The Finnish travel poster is both!

It’s better to spread joy!

May 7, 2020

You have probably noticed it at your post office, employees hauling bags filled with postcards? Yep, we have rediscovered a wonderful tradition.

And no one is happier than me. Because, as a poster hunter, I know that many of Finland’s most stylish postcards are created by illustrators who worked both as poster and postcard artists at the time.

In addition, our poster artists also knew that the images they painted by hand must always work in reduced form as well: as brochure covers, as postcards, as luggage patches.

Take Ingrid Bade and Aukusti Tuhka as examples. In the 1930s, Bade captured the joy of travelling in Finland. Aukusti Tuhka did the same, especially with Finnish Lapland. They are two different artists with completely different styles. But their iconic motifs have survived all the trends and different movements, and now they are ready to give joy to your friend in quarantine: either to a neighbor or to someone on the other side of the globe.

So let’s celebrate with a special offer:

Buy 15 postcards, pay for 10 with the code POSTCARDLOVE

(valid until May 14th, 2020)

Don’t worry, you’ll most certainly find designs you like: we have 189 different postcards for you to choose from.

Oh well, let’s hope that those postal workers start training their biceps.

Magnus Londen, poster hunter

Please keep in touch! magnus.londen(at)cometofinland.fi

PS. Thank you for all your happy comments after my last letter! Let me know if there is anything special about Finnish travel posters you want me to write about in the next letter, it will be a summer special!

99 reasons to stop staring at the screen

April 10, 2020

We only have two questions for you today:

  • Do you feel like you’ve spent too much time in front of the screen lately?
  • Did you know that we at Come to Finland have an art treasure that can be yours?

Here is our recommendation: Put away your device. Forget Game of Thrones and Instagram for awhile. Instead, focus on your home and on how you can give it a completely new look by simply putting up some art. Already a single classic Finnish travel poster will get you in a much better mood – we promise *.

Instead of a screen, wouldn’t you prefer to stare at beautiful Finland? This incredible Land of Romance where the sun never sets, where the lakes are blue like blueberries and every meal is a culinary crescendo.

Let’s be honest: as it is not currently possible to travel, our posters are your best chance to experience the beauty of Finland.

In our range of posters (you have about 99 designs to choose from) you will find both lovely vintage classics as well as newly produced motifs.

No matter what poster you choose, you can be sure that your walls at home will be a lot more fun than your instagram feed.

Too bad you can’t scroll on your walls.

Click here to get more joy in your life >>

Magnus Londen, Poster Hunter

Please keep in touch! magnus.londen (at) cometofinland.fi

*) If you, for some unknown reason, would feel worse after hanging up a Come to Finland poster on your wall, you can simply return the poster to us. We won’t ask any hard questions.