Jarno Lahti from Kaamos Art interview

All work courtesy of Kaamos Design, interview by Pete Alander


Hi Jarno, nice to have you here at the Steel Mill. You run your own design company called Kaamos. What services you provide?

My main services are CD cover and booklet designs, promotional design for bands, websites and MySpace sites. I’m also available for all kind of private graphic commissions.


The name? Kaamos? Must have a meaning to you?

When I started my studio, it was hard to find a suitable name for it. I had many alternatives but I finally end up with KAAMOS. Kaamos is a Finnish word for “period of darkness”. Time here in Finland when sun won’t rise at all. At that point I didn’t thought much about the name but now ten years later, I love that name. It fits perfectly to my work. Atmosphere of my work is dark so I think this name fits. Second thing was that name is short and easy to remember. Also domain kaamos.com was available so my decision was easy.

jarno_lahtiIn creative field sometimes you can manage well without education, are you self-taught or have you studied in art schools?

I have studied graphic design but mainly I´m self thought. At younger age I use to draw and paint a lot and later when I studied graphic design, I found possibilities of digital art and there was no turning back. Obviously education is always good, but there is a lot that you have to learn by yourself. Best way to learn and find your own style is to do lots of work. I have been doing this for long time now but still I learn new things all the time and that’s really rewarding.

What was the first design you did for a rockband?

I did cover for band Afterworld but it was never used. At the end Joe Petago (he did covers for Motörhead and other heavy metal bands) did the cover. First work that was ever published was CD artwork for band Wizzard. That was also my diploma work for my school and I got great grade from it.

You have some amazing references (Zero Nine, Dreamtale, Kiuas, Diablo just to name few). How do you feel working with artists?

Usually it is really easy to work with musicians. We both are quite the same in the end. I have close relation with many of my customers and I can call nowadays many of them as friend.  Obviously it is great if I really love the band I´m working with. Project with Zero Nine is one of them. I have been huge fan of the since mid 80´s and when I got chance to do their album artwork and meet them, it was like dream come true.

Do you have straight contact to artists or do you communicate with them through record labels or managers?

Most of the time I work with artists and I think that is the best way. Less there is any middle mans, easier it is to work.

You have a big list of clients. Are there any particular bands or musicians you would like to work for in the future?

Iron Maiden is my all time favorite, so it would be awesome if some day I could do something with them. But there is no any specific band in my mind, it is always nice to work with great people and great musicians. I also really like to work with smaller bands, they are so excited of what they do and it is great to help them at the early days of their career.

What is the state of graphic design in music business nowadays in your opinion? How much will the industry change within 10 years or so?

Seems that quality of the artwork is not that high anymore. Of course there are lots of awesome artists out there, but I think bands don’t put that much effort into CD artwork and their visual concept and I think internet is the main reason for that. Smaller bands publish their work only on internet and they don’t even want to publish CD. Other reason for lower quality of the artwork is that basically everyone has the tools to do art. Band might know someone how knows how to use Photoshop and usually those persons will work for free or for very little money just because it is “cool” to see their work as CD cover. But they should keep in mind that even you have tools, it don’t make you a professional.

What kind of software or equipment do you use?

My main tool is Photoshop, I also use freehand and illustrator. But mainly all the work is done with photoshop and Wacom tablet

Browsing your website we found a few personal favourites. Could you tell us a bit more about these works and how they were made?

Weeping Daemon-Scars in my Heart


This was quite normal demo project, band contacted me and after short negotiations we started the project. I got the material from the band and quite soon I got basic idea what will be the visual theme of the album. After couple of changes artwork was done.

Before The Dawn -Soundscape Of Silence


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This one is really interesting work. I got mail form BTD´s main man Tuomas at 6pm on Saturday and he asked that I should contact him immediately. He said that he needs a CD cover for Monday. That was really tight schedule but idea for cover was quite simple and I said that I will do the job. After I looked more deeply into the project I realize that I don’t want do just a cover but whose package. At that point I didn’t heard the song but after I read the lyrics, I knew that I could me great package of this. And that was one crazy project I tell you, 16 pages booklet, inlay card and CD label in 1.5 days. But end result was great, Tuomas and I liked it a lot. Naturally if I would have more time, I would have done something in different way, but no matter what I`m really pleased with this project.

Masterstroke – Sleep


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Masterstroke is from my hometown and I have met them many times at bars and they knew who I was and what I do. Drummer Janne contacted me and said that they need the cover ASAP. I got covers that are available and this was one of them. Band liked it and they were able to start the promotion work immediately. For inner pages of the booklet I had more time and I did that like I usually do inner pages. I read the lyrics, listen the music and tried to find ideas for illustrations.

Is there a work of which you are personally proud of?

It is really hard to say any special favorites. Of course there is some works that more that other but I can’t lift any work above the others.

What do you most enjoy about being a graphic designer?

Everything. This is the work that I have wanted to do since I was a child. All my life I have wanted to create arts and I think if I can’t do this, I would feel really miserable. I have worked hard all my life to get into this point. Naturally there is much work still a head, I think this is lifetime journey for me and all the time artist should try to find ways to improve yourself.


You also create arts. Have you had any exhibitions?

No and that’s a shame. I really would love to have exhibition someday. Work has taken most of my time for quite some time now and sadly I haven’t had time to work much with my own art.

Finding ideas might be difficult sometimes and designers have different ways to find them, what is your secret?

Usually I find my inspiration of my customer’s music and lyrics. I will listen the songs and read the lyrics of the album that I`m working with. Many times my customers have also ideas of the artwork concept and I will listen to them. But I have noticed that I will work best when I can do my work freely. It is great that many times bands give me free hands to work.

What are your other main hobbies when you´re not designing?

My English bulldog Justiina takes quite lot of my time when I`m not working. Photography, Poker and Darts are also my favorite ways to spend my free time. But most of the time I`m working in one way or another. I think I spend at least 10 hours per day in front of my computer. And if I`m not doing actual design work, I`m studying all kind of things related my work. Basically I`m working all the time.

Thanx and keep feeding the flames!

Thanks to you, it was honor that you wanted to include me here. And visit www.kaamos.com and check out more of my works.