Laura Künnap is a name you maybe have never heard of when you aren’t familiar with the estonian scene -but most of the people there (and most likely in Scandinavia) have already seen her art. Laura is indeed a creative mastermind that created the latest Hard Rock Laager Event posters, a lot of band artwork and has her own etsy-shop for fine “morbid” art. Time for Undergrounded to take another look behind the curtains of the estonian scene!
UG: Hey Laura!
Laura: Hail Satan and merry antichristmas *laughs*
UG: What a heartwarming welcome *laughs* So, first things first, how do cozy pillows and cats match with death, destruction and terror?
Laura: The thing with the pillows I make and sell is, that there is not much pretty morbid stuff out there. It actually started with our own home. We painted all the walls black and blood red, hung up some skulls and inverted crosses (your usual black metal home making) and I was looking through all the online shops for decor to fit my morbid needs. The reality is, there is not that much stuff out there so I made some of my own. And everybody loved them and now I'm selling them also. It's not work, it's a hobby to soothe my soul. My granny has a cat pillow with a pentagram on its forehead and she loves it to bits.
UG: This sounds hilarious and I might add that a friend of mine bought one of your designs and -despite already knowing you through my estonian escapades- didn’t know your shop (shame on me). But well, now there are two cat pillows at our own home and my brother will find the “Dear Satan” design under the !Pagan! yule-tree this Christmess. So what else do you have in stock?
Laura: One part of the Morbid Pillows shop is dedicated to vintage anatomy, which I find really beautiful. For some reason the organs are not the most popular listing in the shop, yet I know it is in our home. There's also goats, krakens and dead unicorns- I love animals. The most popular part of the shop at the moment is the horror section- with photo pillows of all the vintage horror icons like the Bride of Frankenstein, Vampira, Addams Family etc. I'm always hoping to get more pillows out there, because I have so many ideas. I do not do all the illustrations myself. With some designs I use other talented illustrators collaborations, so I am always keeping an eye out for cool artwork that I can purchase and modify.
UG: You produce the stuff on demand right? But wouldn’t it be tempting to sell a little something on festivals like Howls Of Winter or Hard Rock Laager?
Laura: I think I can do that if I want to. I would just have to ask. But it’s strictly on a hobby base, so I actually do not want it to become big. The moment it gets too much for me I will have to quit and I love my pillows. They will be available on an alternative christmas market in Barbar this month- it’s a new rockbar we have here in Tallinn, you have to come and see. I like the fact that I get to package them myself, write thank you notes and do everything very personally for the person that ordered the pillow. But never say never. For now it is just a side gig. I wanted to do this for a month and see, if anybody want’s them at all and now it’s already been a year due to popular demand. I actually sell very few to Estonia. I have gotten angry letters that say: “ebay is cheaper“ and that I would rob people”. The fact I can have them printed on demand is due to a fact that I have a very good printing partner in Tartu. They use high quality material and a very good printing technique. The pillows will not fade and the print will never wear off. I want to offer the best quality, just the same that I would love to be given to myself. So, it is indeed pricey to Estonian standards.
UG: I see, but I personally would also take quality over price anytime. I hate those poor printed shit that wears off within weeks. So, who is your "standard" customer? I guess cute and death aren't things that normally sell well together -and yes, right now I just try to kill the image of Kawaii Metal in my head...
Laura: Well, I think you are wrong here. Metalheads love cute stuff! A cute burning church pillow in your manly lair to rest your head on while listening to Norwegian Black Metal from first press vinlys…bliss! Actually I think the most part is metal and goth girls aged 15-35- the metal and gothic home making is big at the moment. There are even tv-shows dedicaded to this on youtube like „Lair of Voltaire“. I had even had a „goat“ emergency- I was called from Tappers bar (metal venue in Tallinn) and they asked if I had any leftover goat pillows at home, because a drunk metalhead needed one really bad. He didn't know I don't sell my pillows anywhere physically so he just saw it in the internet and went asking for it there. So no Kawaii. My biggest fans are all male black metalists. It always warms my heart to get an order for Church Burning pillows from Norway - and it’s never girls. Actually the weirdest thing is that 70% of my costumers are from USA. For some reason they have picked up on my shop and most of my orders go there. So it's USA, UK, Germany and then Estonia in this order.
UG: *Laughs* The more you know! And I guess you are at least 99% right with that "theory", but of course I am the 1% that bought it for only trve grvm and cvltist and Fantoft reasons! But back to you, what do you do for a living? I guess it’s also something creative?
Laura: I’m a graphic designer, so, I design graphic stuff. There are two parts to the work I do. During the day I make “regular” people happy and at night I work with the darker stuff for bands and alternative festivals. One part of my work I do is design posters for nightclubs and people really love them. Since I have never been to a nightclub the designs are so different from the other clubs stuff that everyone loves them. My boss always tells people that the key is to hire a satanist (that's what he thinks I am, because…what else can you be when you wear black and pentagrams right???). The stuff I really like doing of course is the alternative stuff. My main “baby” is the Hard Rock Laager that I have been doing designs for about 7 years. And also all the band stuff. I always tell that men want only one thing from me. When ever a strange man is calling me up in the middle of the night, I can be sure that he wants a logo or shirt for his band. The metal scene in Estonia is small, so when ever there is a rock shop, bar or band they ask me if I can help them with the design, so, that is what I do.
In the recent years there are a couple more young (metal) artists in the picture and I really love to see different new stuff happening in the design scene here. There will surely be a link to my work somewhere, so, always pictures speak more than words There is so much stuff I do. And I really enjoy all of it. Be it a meditation app or Grill House logo (been there, done that). I think the way I have gotten myself to all the best jobs I have ever done has been pure luck. I am really humbled about all the opportunities I have been given. Like when the tour manager of Ensiferum came up to me at a random gig, introduced himself and asked if I wanted to do the designs for Ensiferums European tour. I am always baffled when stuff like this happens to me. I am just very lucky.
UG: “I always tell that men want only one thing from me”, I guess your “better” half Hardo has a hard time to sleep at night when the strange guys are calling you! *laughs* You shouldn’t call it luck though, there has to be serious skills to achieve something like that for sure. Of course maybe being in the right spot at the right time helps. So are there things you wouldn’t do? And maybe things you would love to do in the future?
Laura: This might be a boring answer, but I would never do anything against the freedom of the people (Slava Ukraina!). I will not do anything for religions like christianity or islam. I will not glorify immigration. Otherwise I am open to new things all around I hope the future holds a better skill at drawing for me because in the world of technology and photoshop the human mind and the ability to express yourself with plain paper and pencil is the greatest asset. Maybe someday do some doodles for a Darkthrone album…
UG: Totally would buy that! Sadly Fenriz won’t answer my constant messages on Facebook, but that is a whole other story! So let’s sum it up and agree on: Black Metal works perfectly with pillows, Hard Rock Laager is blessed to have you on board, Ukraine shall be free and pretty much fuck Christianity and Islam! So my last question is: Will you be at Howls Of Winter?
Laura: If you hear back from Fenriz you can tell him that he and his cat are welcome to come and stay with me and Hardo forever! I will be at Howls Of Winter for sure and you have to note all the cool designs done for that festival by my friend Tarmo Kasearu.
This interview features Laura Künnap, creative mastermind from estonia, morbid designer and founder of Morbid Pillows. She was interviewed by Grave from Undergrounded.