Tiny, but mighty - Annika Miller is intense and passionate. She is serious about design and confident in her work. I met Annika last year in the architecture department at UL Lafayette, where we were both teaching. She is an amazing creative professional and also extremely private - I was thrilled to learn she recently returned to Lafayette from Finland. She explained her approach to both life and art:

“I grew up in Finland surrounded by design. It was instilled in every detail of our daily lives: from the drinking glasses by Alvar Aalto, to tea candle holders and plates by Marimekko, to the appreciation and understanding of architecture in the urban environment. I have been drawing since I was a kid, but not until architecture school did I find the inspiration for the things I was drawing. Creating these cultural illustrations has become the natural response to my daily surroundings whether here in South Louisiana or in Finland. Studying architecture helped me develop a sense of scale and see beauty in the everyday moments.”

Annika Miller
Image courtesy of Catherine Guidry

How is Lafayette/Acadiana your home base?

I am originally from Finland, having lived there for the first 17 years of my life. At the age of 16, I made a decision that I wanted to spend my senior year of high school abroad in the United States, and to my surprise (huge surprise, that is), my dad agreed!

I met my now-husband on the bayous of Louisiana. The day we met, I threw him off of his jet ski and one month later he asked me out on our first date. Six months later, we were married and that was 16 years ago.

Since then, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from UL Lafayette and Master of Architecture from Rice University in Houston. Lafayette has always been a place we return to. I have worked both locally at architecture firms in Lafayette and internationally at a firm in my hometown of Kuopio Finland. I have also taught at UL Lafayette in the School of Architecture and Design. Currently, I am working on my own design business Akkika here in Lafayette, a place we are proud to call home.

Annika Miller-Crawfish
Image courtesy of Akkika.com

What/who/where/why is your Acadiana muse?

Lafayette is our happy place. Acadiana is the most colorful, welcoming and diverse place I know. How could this culture not inspire art?! The wildlife, and more specifically, the crawfish is a reoccurring theme in my work. As the kitchen is the heart of our home, so is the local cuisine the heart of my work.

Annika Miller-Mardi Gras
Image courtesy of Akkika.com

How do your cultural and physical environments influence your work?

The greatest beauty and influence for my work here in Louisiana is in the history and love behind all of the traditions throughout the year and how they bring the community together. There is always something to look forward to from the way Christmas bleeds into the crawfish season where it mixes in with Mardi Gras, to the spring time planting, fresh home grown vegetables, and of course the warm summers and barbeques.

I feel lucky to be able to call both Lafayette, Louisiana, and Kuopio, Finland, my home. These two incredibly diverse cultures compliment each other and provide me with all the inspiration I need for my art. While these two countries vary from arctic to sub-tropical and from introverts to extroverts, both cultures still maintain the values of family first and a love for the outdoors!

Annika Miller-Pelican
Image courtesy of Akkika.com

Five words (more or less) to describe Lafayette in relation to your work.

Strong, Celebratory, Happy, Colorful, Home

Describe a perfect day in the neighborhood. What do you do, where do you go, who are you with, what are you eating/drinking?

I spend most of my days with our beautiful two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. We love to be outdoors in the neighborhood walking to the park, biking around and making art together. She is currently obsessed with guacamole and loves to help us make it from scratch. While she sleeps, I work on custom orders and other personal art projects.

Annika Miller-Object
Image courtesy of Akkika.com

Lafayette could be summed up in a handful of “alternative seasons.” Rank these in order of preference from 1-5 (1 is tops)

Crawfish Season
Festival Season
Gumbo Season
Sno-Cone/Deep Summer Season
Camping Season

Find her online at www.akkika.com and follow @akkika on Instagram to stay up-to-date with her delightful pen and ink drawings, home goods, toys, and jewelry designs.