Sami Suomalainen

Sami Suomalainen was born and raised in Finland, and lived in Sweden before finally moving to Canada. As a child, he was always painting and drawing. “I was doodling before I ever talked!” explains Sami. He also loved outdoor adventures and going camping. His favorite book was Robinson Crusoe and he read it over and over again.

Though he was sure he wanted to be an artist, Sami’s parents wanted him to get a “proper job,” meaning a professional position such as architect, doctor, or lawyer. “They knew that being an artist is risky, that it would be hard to make a living,” he explains. But he didn’t back down, and today he is recognized as a talented and successful artist. He has illustrated many children’s books, including the first two books by Robert Munsch, Mud Puddle (1995) and The Dark (1997), as well as several adult and educational books.

Sami admires the work of many different artists yet has managed to create a style all his own, which is flexible enough to capture the moods of different stories. This is the advice he gives to aspiring artists: “Be true to yourself, and believe in yourself. Don’t try to imitate others, use your own personal creativity.”

Sami lives in Toronto with his wife and two cats. Aside from drawing, he also loves playing flamenco guitar and often composes his own music. “If you can paint, you can compose,” he claims. He finds music very relaxing and will often play for hours, either on his own or with other musicians.

Images and stories are always filling Sami's mind. “Being an artist is not a job, it’s a lifestyle,"” says Sami, and he definitely is an artist in every way.

Annick Press books
illustrated by Sami Suomalainen