Lari Mörö

Lari Mörö
freelance art director, graphic designer, illustrator
[email protected]

May 2023, Helsinki

To the reader, I am writing this letter of support for Jessie Bullivant, in relation to their work LIL’ WET, which was shown at “Big Wet 2.0”, at the Karjaa water tower in Summer 2022.
⠀⠀⠀⠀LIL’ WET consisted of a 570 x 500 mm watercolour painting directly on the surface of the Karjaa Water Tower. The painting, bold black text on a horizontal rectangle of Schmincke Horadam
Aquarell – Mars Brown, read:




“Big Wet 2.0” was the second exhibition at a municipal water tower organised by the above-named group of artists (with Lukas joining the group for 2.0). The first “big wet” took place on a single day at the Haukilahti water tower in Espoo in 2020.
⠀⠀⠀⠀In early 2022, Jessie asked me over instagram if I could share the typeface used by Kaiku with them. They explained the request by attaching a mock-up of what they were making: a painting of the “Big Wet 2.0” exhibition details in the style of a club Kaiku poster. Jessie asked me, specifically, because I had been freelancing as a sort of in-house graphic designer for Kaiku & Kuudes Linja oy between 2017–2022, where I was working primarily with the weekly poster designs.
⠀⠀⠀⠀As a graphic designer, I have enjoyed Jessie’s play with signs and symbols over the years, (a notable mention being their comic Meta Version, which is a trippy mash up of Donald Duck), and support their work. I told Jessie that I did not have the rights to share the typeface file with them, but I described how the identity works. Jessie seemed to be able to trace the letters themself quite successfully from found sources, and the outcome bears enough resemblance to be recognised by anyone who knows the reference.
⠀⠀⠀⠀For context, Kaiku is a nightclub in Helsinki. In 2013, Linda Linko designed their visual identity based on vintage type-only event posters. The identity also consists of a set of abstract illustrations for social media and special events. The Kaiku typeface was designed in collaboration with Jaakko Suomalainen. The posters soon dominated the Helsinki streetscape with their bold letters and flat colour background. Kaiku is one of several clubs in Helsinki owned by Toni Rantanen aka Lil’ Tony, who is also a DJ, and often appears on the Kaiku posters. By replacing LIL’ (Tony) with BIG (Wet) Jessie’s painting operates as both concrete poetry and an inside joke.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Karjaa water tower was built in the 1950s and has been operating with its original function ever since. It sits atop a hill in Karjaa, a majority Swedish-speaking town between Helsinki and Turku. Designed by Hilding Ekelund (who also designed Taidehalli Art Hall in Helsinki) the tower was refurbished in 2019 and its crisp white surface was like a massive blank piece of paper. The tower is also home to Natura Seura – a group of astronomy enthusiasts. Observing the sky mostly during the dark months of winter, the society opened the doors to their observatory dome during the “Big Wet 2.0” exhibition days.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Karjaa water tower is not Kaiku, but the gap between the two contexts creates a tension that I find interesting. Who is the audience? Who understands the reference? Who is on the guest list? Jessie’s painting was visible to those who visited the tower on one of the five (5) days it was open to the public, and ascended the 114 stairs to the balcony with a six (6) person limit at the very top.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The purpose of street posters is to reach a large audience through distinctive design, proliferation, and visual recognition. This single, locked away “poster” didn’t function in that way – (note: The actual poster used to advertise “Big Wet 2.0”, designed collaboratively by the working group, featured a photograph of the tower, the title of the exhibition in ‘hobo’ font, and five (5) yellow clip art stars)– but LIL’ WET did circulate on Instagram through the stories of exhibition visitors.

⠀⠀⠀⠀Lari Mörö