Portrait painter

Markku Järvelin

Helsinki, Finland


+358 50 368 5174

What do the former Finnish prime minister and ... Peter Fazer ... Anne Berner ... and the CEO of the Finnish Family Firms Association have in common?

I have painted a commissioned portrait of each of them and many other Finnish celebrities. My well-known clients include the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Fondita Fund Management Company Ltd., Nordic Business Forum, and Aro-Systems Oy, to name a few.

I've had the pleasure and honor of painting to order, for example:

  • Mayor Hannu Tsupari, City of Varkaus, 2021

  • Kauppaneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Harri Broman, Broman Group Oy, 2021

  • CEO and Chairman Taavi Heikkilä, S Group, 2021

  • Director of education and training consortium Sampo Suihko, Omnia, 2021

  • Professor and Senior Physician Martti Färkkilä, HUS / University of Helsinki, 2020

  • Professor Seppo Villa, Varsinaissuomalainen osakunta (VSO), 2020

  • Entrepreneurial advisor Paavo Aro, Aro-Systems Oy, 2018

  • CEO Leena Mörttinen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2018

  • Chairman Heikki Kovanen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2018

  • Founder Magnus von Knorring, Fondita Fund Management Company Ltd., 2017

  • Chairman Pekka Laitinen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2015

  • CEO Matti Vanhanen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2015

  • CEO Anders Blom, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2015

  • Chairman Peter Fazer, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Chairman Krister Ahlström, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Chairman Klaus Sohlberg, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Chairman Marjo Miettinen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Chairman Janne Timonen, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Chairman Anne Berner, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2014

  • Rector Sinikka Hämäläinen, Riihimäki Upper Secondary School, 2012

  • CEO Anders Blom, Finnish Family Firms Association, 2010

  • Founder Kaisu Virkkunen, Tampere Steiner School, 2009

The secret to a good portrait

A good portrait looks like its subject and is done with good taste.

To achieve uniformity in my painting style, good drawing skills and a deep understanding of oil painting techniques are essential. With these fundamentals, I have invented a unique painting technique that I have not seen used by any other artist.

The carefully chosen subject matter, lighting, and layout are essential factors in achieving good taste. A good portrait is a window into the soul of the subject and a gateway to culture—one that says something about a person.

You could say that anyone can be made a great portrait - combining exceptional drawing skills with centuries of cutting-edge knowledge of portrait painting's best principles.

I have over 20 years of experience in portrait commissions and more than a decade of official portrait experience. I have also been under the direct doctrine of one of the world's most respected portrait painters in the USA. I'll tell you a bit more about that in a moment.

The result is an impressive, festive, and timelessly elegant portrait that everyone can be proud of; subject, client, and artist.

What am I like as an artist?

A pupil of the famous portrait painter

In 2014, I had the rare opportunity to study in person with Mark Carder, a master of portraiture. He has painted commissioned portraits of two U.S. Presidents, George H. W. and George W. Bush, among others. The fact that his works start at around $30,000 is a sign of his esteem.

I attended a course led by Carder in the United States, at the end of which he unexpectedly invited me to stay privately in his studio to paint. Personal mentoring was heaven for a young painter! It was a special recognition to hear him compare my talents to his own.

One of the world's most respected portrait painters Mark Carder and me. - Austin, Texas 2014.

The principles of portraiture developed over centuries, and my influences

Portraits have a long tradition. For centuries, kings, presidents, leaders, and dignitaries - sometimes even the family's most beloved pets - have been immortalized in paintings.

It's a great way to celebrate life and preserve a memory. One touching work was a portrait of the wife of a Swedish nobleman who died suddenly.

Portrait painting has an exceptionally long history. It has a long history of thoughtful symbolism and techniques, which a new generation of artists is nurturing and sometimes succeeding in improving. So I have combined these old methods, especially with my natural drawing skills, to make a portrait really look like its subject.

The most important influences have been John Singer Sargent, John Howard Sanden, and of course, Mark Carder.

My aim in portrait painting is always to create a lasting work of art that is dignified, uniform, and respectful of its subject.

My work decorates homes, corporate headquarters, and public spaces.

My internalized style could be called realism. I am a full member of the Artists' Association of Finland (a professional artist recognized by the institution).

Start a new tradition of portraits or continue an exiting one

I typically have two types of clients.

People who want to celebrate their lives, careers, and achievements by commissioning a portrait of themselves or loved ones, such as children and spouses. Sometimes more than one person in the same piece.

Another important group of clients is organizations that commission a portrait of their celebrity. Such clients include the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Family Firms Association and Aro-Systems Oy, a family-owned building services company that has been in business for over 65 years. For example, Magnus von Knorring, founder of the Fondita Fund Management Company Ltd., for whom I painted a much-praised oil portrait. Often the subject of a portrait is also given another smaller portrait as a gift to take home.

They tend to continue the tradition of portraiture. There are also far-sighted souls who are starting a new tradition of portraits because they understand their value and significance as part of the cultural-historical continuum.

Above all, the portrait is unparalleled recognition of the destination.

What makes people choose a real portrait painting over a photograph?

In a rapidly digitizing and changing world, many of my clients are looking for permanence and something personal. The world is full of photographs. But there is only one painting. It's a genuine handcrafted piece that can appreciate in value over time. Even the priceless Mona Lisa is simply a portrait.

How the work is done

Here's a brief summary of the whole process:

Contact me first and tell me what you are looking for. I usually reply to electronic contacts by the next working day.

I will make a short needs assessment, what kind of painting it is and where it will be placed. You will receive an accurate quote for cost and time.

The preliminary design is made together with the client, and we also map out a suitable environment for the background of the portrait model. I usually have two to three sessions with the subject of the portrait.

I will also participate in the display of the finished work, the selection of the frame, and the nameplate, as well as in the eventual unveiling of the work.

The final highlight is the portrait handover (and possible release event).

How long does the whole painting process take from idea to finished work?

Typically, it takes about 6-18 months to do a good job, and the oil color is left to dry. I also typically have a few custom orders going on at any given time, which limits the amount of new work I can do.

I, therefore, recommend that you contact me as early as possible to ensure the availability of your work. Contact here.

Price from 2 700 €

There are three primary size ranges for a portrait (in brackets, the most commonly used classic sizes):

  • Head and shoulders (approx. 55 × 46 or 61 × 50 cm)

  • ¾ of the body with hands included (approx. 81 × 65 or 92 × 73 cm)

  • Full body (about 92 × 73 or larger)

The price includes 10 % VAT, travel costs in Finland's capital region, and digital artwork. The advance payment is 30 % of the total amount. Framing and artist's fees related to the eventual publication will be charged separately.

If you're unsure about something, feel free to ask. I'm happy to answer.

Satisfied customers are my best advocates

For example, in 2014 and 2015, I drew and painted 60 portraits of the Top 30 business influencers for Nordic Business Report.

In the 4/2017 issue of Taloustaito-magazine, Pauliina Laitinen, Ph.D., and an art market expert, discussed my career in her article about portrait painting.

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For all this attention and recognition, I am very grateful. My aim in portrait painting has always been to create a lasting work of art that is dignified, uniform, and respectful of its subject.

Here is some typical feedback:

"A very skilled and friendly portrait painter. We commissioned him to paint a portrait of our former curator for our department. The collaboration went smoothly, and the result was elegant and exactly what we had hoped for."
- ER
"In the portrait, the object becomes a subject whose soul landscape, character, and essential values the artist has managed to create excellently as a painting. The portrait is the culmination of a shared journey."
- PK
"It is a very vivid and intense painting, nice! It will be a pleasure to hand it over to him together with our company colleagues."
- ML

Re-ordering customers make up a significant part of my sales. It is perhaps the best indicator of high customer satisfaction.

Contact - let’s brainstorm together

I love talking about art almost as much as I love painting. Contact me, and we can discuss your wishes, the way you want it to be done, and the timeframe. You can reach me best via the contact form below, by email, or by phone.

If you are seriously interested, as I assume you are since you read this far, I advise you to take the next step soon because I can really only take on a few new clients a year.

Thank you.

Markku Järvelin


+358 50 368 5174

P.S. Of course, your contact does not commit you to anything.

© Markku Järvelin