Réka Király: I walk everywhere

Réka Király

I first came to Helsinki for half a year on an Erasmus exchange to study graphic design. It was an especially cold winter, it was snowing horizontally and for the first time in my life I experienced my eyebrows freezing. At the same time, I felt an immense liberation. 

The Hungarian illustrator and publisher Réka Király found her own path in Helsinki.

"My father was quite a well-known furniture designer in Hungary. Due to my name, I could not be sure whether someone truly likes my work and my art. In Helsinki, nobody knew my background and I could receive direct feedback. It was lovely to get to know people with whom I could discuss anything in the world. I developed my skills as a designer and graphic artist on a path of my own." 

Encounters like fables 

"There is a sort of magic that pulls me to Helsinki. Even the names of people I encounter are derived from fairytales. One night I was up until four in the morning working on some prints and a large rabbit followed me all the way home. Such a thing would not happen in Budapest. 

When I was about to graduate in 2005, I received some of my first large-scale commissions from the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. I decided to stay in Finland for a few more weeks and see where that would take me. Now I call Helsinki home. There are familiar places and shop-keepers who know me and my child. I know that if something happens, they'll keep an eye on my child." 

To the seafront in a flash            

"Helsinki is just the right size for me – I can stay on the map here. In the mornings, I walk to our publishing office in Eira from Punavuori together with my dachshund. If I need to go through some thoughts with my colleague, the seaside is around the corner for a walk, as are many cafés to sit down for a meeting. I also love transportation in Helsinki: a tram or bus will take you anywhere, and you never have to spend hours in traffic. Compared to a major city, this is a much more human-centric place to live." 

Ambiances change with the seasons 

"I use my free time to draw, meditate, and exercise in a group of 25 to 85-year-olds. I love it! I've met the people closest to me through my studies and work. Five years ago I decided to start speaking Finnish, knowing well that my Finnish is full of mistakes. Even with everyone speaking English I notice that a certain wall comes down when I speak Finnish. 

The ambiance of the city is completely different in winter and in summer. In the summertime people might start up conversations on the tram in a very different way than in winter. And now that I have a dog, people have started to talk to me and tell stories of their childhood, for instance." 

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