As you have probably figured it out, the dude holding the book is me, Hanno Parksepp. And the happy bunch on the table, with Snupsi, the blue coloured chap in the middle, are all characters from that book. So in short, I have dedicated the whole site to giving you an introduction to “Snupsi’s world” and how step by step it came into being. I will write and hopefully make a vlog about all those tiny guys separately where I describe their character in detail and where exactly within the storyline they pop in. “Ok, understandable… one might say, “but why still, a website dedicated to some blue fellow and his friends?”. Well, after “Snupsi” was first published in 2015, I saw that there were a great number of kids who really got inspired either from my sculptings or the book… or just liked to cuddle the plush toy. So until 2018, I didn’t have a website or even a Facebook page and I am here to fix that. So this is a place for Snupsi and his friends to meet You – whoever or what age you might be! Absolutely everybody is welcome here and to write me. And please do tell me anything you might want to read or hear in more detail. I just bought a proper mic, so I might try to read parts of the book 🙂 Oh, one more thing – I have a pretty good laser 3D printer, which means I can bring to life any character one might wish. In time I will put the hand painted printouts here to display and perhaps open a tiny shop.
I just realized I have not even introduced myself except for my name. And I do apologize if it is not what one might expect form a proper introduction. I was born in Tallinn, Estonia way back in the 70s, about the time when Earth, Wind & Fire enjoyed the peak success of their hit song “September”. Although that song probably didn’t hit the Soviet era radio stations, there were enough ways to bypass the iron curtain and make life more enjoyable and colourful during that dull grey era. And one of that was TV. To be more precise, Finnish TV which was only accessible to people living on northern the coast of Estonia, mainly Tallinn, meaning closer to Finnish broadcasting towers that were set up on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. There was a trick though to see the channels in colour. The soviet TV-s had to be tinkered to accept PAL system colours, otherwise the picture would be black and white. But boy were they different from the Soviet SECAM colours when I finally got to witness the result. I remember that as a kid I was just baffled after we had gotten our tv the “PAL system” (that was not quite legal, but nobody was arrested either for such undertaking) and that’s how the degradation of my eyesight began😊 Ok, it’s not that bad, plus I have already found a laser-fix for that issue. But besides the colours, the world of cartoons and animations I was sunk into had such an effect on me that at some point I started drawing and sculpting my own similar world, greatly inspired by the Muppets, the Peanuts, Garfield, the Smurfs and the Moomies, just to name a few. How did I end up sculpting? I found a box of plasticine cows, made by my grandpa Johannes once. They were so true to life, with their detailed muscles flawless postures. To give strength to the structure my grandpa had used tiny nails that he had inside the plasticine. I was baffled and couldn’t help but to try out that fascinating material too. Although I never managed to make any cows, I remember I did a pretty good monkey face:)
My childhood summers were spent in Polli, officially called “Polli experimental station”. It might sound a bit as if it were a place from some apocalyptic suspense novel, but in reality it was quite the opposite. Polli experimental station was a tiny village with huge strawberry, currant, apple and plum tree gardens and my grandpa worked there as a plant breeding scientist, introducing new varieties of berries. I still vividly remember the huge strawberry fields with the juiciest and tastiest strawberries to this date. And the best part – most of them were created by by grandpa. His life’s work “Marjasordid Eestis” (Berry cultivars in Estonia) was a must have on the shelves for any enthusiastic gardener and to this date he is remembered as one of the greatest figures of Estonian plant breeding.
When the summer was over, a lot of hours after the school was spent in the Estonian Radio building, where my mother used to work as an editor for children’s programmes, including the iconic bed time stories and the historical “Siililegi selge” (“Comprehensible even to a hedgehog”) where children could listen to fascinating stories about the world, nature and animals. In the soviet era, as you can imagine, there were no private radios, so the state owned Estonian Radio was the thing. And as there was not much to watch from tv, radio dramas were a popular alternative to amuse oneself in the dullish non-amusing world. And I was quite happy and proud to give my tiny contribution there. I was lucky to have sort of a “city granny” , the legendary grand old lady of Estonian theatre Salme Reek, with whom I often hung around the radio building and who used to instruct me how to act in radio dramas and read stories. I remember I even had a part in one drama where I could publicly curse, meaning in front of all the listeners – now how cool was that! And yes, there was one big influence also from the Estonian tv – Uncle Raivo (Raivo Järvi), who used to draw so unlike his contemporaries. He had also drawn the hedgehog character to my mother’s radio show “Siililegi selge”. It was just so fascinating to watch how the story unfolded while he was drawing with his squeaky felt pens on tv.
Unfortunately, the Soviet plasticine didn’t have the greatest colours (similarly to TV) and was strangely oily, so the characters didn’t usually come out exactly how I planned them… but I was and still am very colour-picky! But luckily for drawing, there were now obstacles, since there was a fable lady who often got me colourful pens as gifts. I called her my Pen Aunty. But at one point I stopped drawing and sculpting with plasticine. I guess it was when the teenage era bursted in. Nevertheless, the world that had distanced from me within the scale of time, had still quietly and patiently been staying within me all these years, as it later appeared.
In 2008, my work in the Foreign Ministry brought me to Belgium. The captivating world of comics and again – the birthplace of the Smurfs – took me back to memory lane. I finally bought myself again some boxes of plasticine and made my first baby-steps in re-creating Snupsi. If you were to witness the first attempt, you would burst into tears of laughter. But at one point I got hold of it and really enjoyed the time spent fiddling with that soft material. And after stressful working hours, that was such a bliss to escape to another world, the one that I remembered from my childhood. The moment, the ultimate spark that made me finally bring that almost forgotten world back into my life was my mother’s problem. She had kept the plasticine figures that I made in the 80s on her shelves in the living room. One of those was the first Snupsi, a bit beat up as can a plasticine figure, now aged over 30+ years. She said “When the kids visit me, they often want to play with your plasticine toy, but I can’t give it to them – it’s just so brittle. Can’t you make a small soft plush toy of it, so they could play with that instead?”
“Well, how hard could it be to make a plush toy?” I asked myself and started to find ways how to make that toy. And after about less than half a year I had 2500 plush Snupsi toys (I still have quite a bunch of them left). Why so much, you might wonder. Well, the minimum amount the factory was willing to make was 2500. So what I had was a shipping container, full of Snupsis. And only then it hit me – Snupsi needs to have a story. What is the point of Snupsi, making all the way to a kid’s home and he/she wonders – who is he, where does he come from, who are his friends?
And that was the moment I decided to start writing the book “Snupsi”.