Siiri Viljakka

Comic artist

Siiri Viljakka. Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

My works often include a lot of floundering and fascinating twists of fate, described from the perspective of queer characters. Lately, I’ve been focusing on non-male masculinities and the butch identity. At the Saari Residence, I will be delving into them in my REKKIS graphic novel, drawing the storyboard and sample pages.

In Finnish, the term corresponding to ‘butch’ could be ‘rekkalesbo’ (truck lesbian), or ‘rekkis’ for short, which has long been a pejorative nickname for lesbians who express their gender in a typically ‘masculine’ way. But the truth about butches is more complex, because not all of us are lesbians, women or drive a truck.

By storyboarding, drawing and reading background material, I will figure out what masculine gender expression means to me. At the same time, I will study what being butch has meant and what it can be. While butches come in all sizes and from every culture, age group and social class, positive portrayals of us are often hidden in subcultures. In the REKKIS comic, butches gleefully smash gender norms one leather boot at a time and twist and bend the concept of masculinity.

I particularly look forward to conversations with the other artists at the residence and to being inspired by their ways of working which are outside my own experience. The peace and quiet of the residence will allow me to immerse myself in my meandering theme.


Siiri Viljakka (b. 1995 in Varkaus, Finland) is a comic artist who has taken a winding path that led her to Turku. She likes to use different drawing tools ranging from charcoal to coloured pencils to water-soluble methods. Her style includes strong contrasts and a confident line.

Viljakka’s first solo graphic novel “Kohti sumua” (“Towards the Fog”) will be published in Finnish by Täysi Käsi Oy in March 2022. Set on a mysterious island with a lighthouse, the 270-page novel is a story about isolation, relinquishment and love between two women. Viljakka has previously worked both alone and in collaboration with others on small magazines, anthology publications and graphic novels. She illustrated the 2016 graphic novel “Last Words – The Return of Anders Chydenius” in collaboration with author Lauri Tuomi-Nikula. The publication sparked a tour of the UK, where the creators talked about the novel and freedom of information as guests of the not-for-profit social enterprise, MySociety.

In addition to comics, Viljakka has been active in the exhibition scene. Her solo exhibitions in 2018 at the Varkaus Art Museum and the Turku Book Café (Turun Kirjakahvila) featured pages from her comic “Closure & Failure,” which explores gender identity. She has participated in several group exhibitions and festivals in Finland and abroad.  The REKKIS cartoon, created at the Saari Residence, will be part of a set of exhibitions at the Turku B-Galleria from November to December 2022. Viljakka graduated as a visual artist from the Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2020.