...or Minna Ainoa, that is my real name. Helmi is my illustrator alias, helping me to separate illustration from other creative work (graphic design & art direction) I do. 

My background is in fashion. I took my bachelor degree in fashion design at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences 1997 and master's degree at the Aalto University of Art and Design in 2004. I have worked at retail fashion marketing (art director, Stockmann 2000-2011) before focusing to freelancer career.

As a late bloomer, I started professional illustrating quite late, at the age of 35. I specialise in patterns (pattern making was part of my bachelors degree work), beauty & fashion, human anatomy and portraits. Pencil and paper are my favourite tools and I always start new illustration with them, even though the end result is always digital.

"The blend of the feminine palette with the natural slate tones of the pencil she works in, give Helmi Sirola’s illustrations the sense of something ethereal. She uses her favoured graphite medium skilfully with super soft shading that pairs perfectly with soft hues."

– www.apeonthemoon.com