Taika's story: From a librarian to a pioneer of Smart Art

Career story

In a world where many people want to have a comfortable and safe career, my story is not the most typical one. It is a story of finding myself and following my calling, even if others do not believe in it, and throwing myself headlong into a new venture. After many twists and turns, I have ended up doing what I dreamed of when I was a child: art. However, as a child I could not even have imagined the tools and methods that I am using at the moment.

I have a Bachelor of Culture and Arts degree. My career path has taken me through a small advertising agency, a large design agency and the library world. However, the journey has not been so straightforward and simple.

After working at the advertising agencies, I became seriously ill and was forced to rely on rehabilitation allowance for several years. It was a challenging time and, to be honest, I thought about giving up altogether and applying for a sickness pension. However, I got into vocational rehabilitation in the library sector and decided to try to enter the world of work again. I thought to myself: “Let's turn over all the stones before you are forced to leave the world of work for good”. At that time, the illness had a strong and distorting impact on my thinking. However, some part of me made me try again. I have always been quite stubborn and goal-oriented; if I decide to do something, I won't give up.

Then the coronavirus hit and things went awry in libraries, just as with the rest of society. Instead of a place for rehabilitative work, the library became an unpredictable and burdensome work environment, where it was necessary to react to unexpected situations and changing rules on a daily basis. However, crises often lead to something new and surprising. My therapist at the time encouraged me to be artistic. In fact, my therapist was the first person in my life who genuinely believed that I could succeed as an artist.

That gave me the idea of setting up a company on my own. I had always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur, but, in a similar way to my identity as an artist, I had allowed other people to define me already in childhood and youth. I could never be an entrepreneur! After all, I'm quiet, shy, insignificant, bad. Like so many others, I was told so many times that being an artist is not a real profession, it doesn’t bring you success in life. You should get a real job instead.

I realised that those were only beliefs that I had accepted earlier. I set up a business and thought: “Since I have nothing to lose, let’s give it a go!”

I decided to fully devote myself to artificial intelligence

For a long time, I did basic graphic design tasks as an entrepreneur – corporate identities, print design, digital design, websites and illustrations. In December 2022, the clients’ budgets started to freeze due to the ever-deteriorating economic situation. I was once again at a crossroads: either I would sell my existing expertise more intensively and try to acquire new customers, or I would start learning artificial intelligence models that I had just encountered online. At that point, few people had familiarised themselves with the whole subject in Finland, and even fewer believed in my timing. I heard the following sentence so many times: "You're too early.” It didn't stop me anymore. I had already made my decision.

I have always been skilled in IT work as a result of my personal interest in the topic. I dared to try and combine artistic expression and technology among the first people – if not the very first one – in Finland. I decided to fully devote myself to artificial intelligence. I prepared a learning plan for myself and started to systematically study artificial intelligence models and techniques. My days easily stretched to 12 hours. The world of artificial intelligence sucked me in. I learned to combine artificial intelligence, the Krita digital painting programme, Wacom whiteboard and Photoshop to create digital art. I named my technique Smart Art.

And here I am, one of Finland's artificial intelligence pioneers and yes, as an artist. My childhood dream has come true through persistent work, perseverance and self-belief.

A career story does not have to be a steady upward path

Here are my most important tips related to the world of work.

  • Start from developing self-knowledge. It is the foundation on which you can build your competence and a meaningful career. Don't make work your identity, it is not a sustainable solution.
  • Don't listen to sceptics. Thank them for their perspectives and continue on your own path with determination. If you want to become a successful artist, you need to be able to see a future that no one else can necessarily see, besides you.
  • Impossible things seem impossible only until you put them into practice.

In my spare time, I play World of Warcraft and Minecraft, and I go and play badminton. I also like board games and Tabletop Simulator. So I'm quite a nerd in my personal life!

These days, I take care of my well-being and mental health by listening to myself and keeping an eye on how I’m coping, and by writing a diary in which I discuss and reflect on the events of the day. Self-examination and increasing my self-knowledge continue to be very important to me. For me, development and change are a natural part of life.

My career story is a story about open-mindedness, coping against the odds, boldly following art-related dreams and finding myself. A career story doesn’t have to be a steady upward path, as a complicated adventure with setbacks makes a much more exciting story!

Taika Jalohaikara
The first Smart Artist in Finland