Go Back

Viljami Puustinen

Antti Viljami Puustinen
Born December 18, 1969, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Theatre Research) 2006, University of Helsinki
Vocational qualification in Business and Administration 1992, Espoonlahti Business College

Freelance journalist and writer of non-fiction 2011–
Editor-in-chief 2007–2011, Rumba-lehti
Assistant, inter alia, Ylioppilaslehti, Like Uutiset, Johnny Kniga kertoo, Kauppalehti, Bisnes.fi, Image, Iso Numero (Finnish version of the Big Issue)
Record shop salesman 1992–1994, Fazer Music Itäkeskus

Kingston Wall – Petri Wallin saaga, Like 2014
22-Pistepirkko, Like 2005
This is USA – Hellsinki rock&roll underground ‘89–‘99, Like 2000

Photo: Pete Leppänen / Like Kustannus

Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Matthew Billington

“At the Entrance Examination I already knew I’d Found My Thing”

After completing upper secondary school and compulsory military service, Viljami Puustinen earned a Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration and applied for schools in Tampere and Jyväskylä before finding his field at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki.

Puustinen was studying at Espoonlahti Business College when the economic depression of the 1990s hit Finland. In earlier years the college’s graduates had practically been dragged away to good jobs, but the situation was very different in 1992.

– Headhunters no longer swarmed in the schoolyard and there was no sign of students driving company cars. I was fortunate enough to be employed after an internship at the Fazer Music store. It was a pleasant place to work for a couple years, but then I started to feel like life had other things to offer. That meant going back to school.

Puustinen spent several years in the amateur dramatics scene in Helsinki. In Kellariteatteri (‘Cellar Theatre’) he met a friend who was studying theatre research at the University of Helsinki.

– At that point I had applied to the Theatre Academy of Finland a couple times, and still I didn’t even know theatre research existed as a subject. At the entrance examination I was already certain I had found my thing. I felt passionate about the field and right from the start made a concentrated effort to do well.

During his university studies, Puustinen felt that his work experience and time spent in amateur dramatics had provided him valuable lessons in life. Although it took him 12 years to graduate, Puutinen had an impressive list of minors to his name. General literature, religious studies and folkloristics were subjects he believed would offer insight into the intellectual history of mankind.

– I continued in amateur dramatics until 1998. Time at the theatre was of course time away from studying, but it provided the motivation to dig deeper into literature and theatre research.

While at the University, Puustinen wrote theatrical reviews and other articles. That path also led him to work on his first non-fiction book: This is USA—Hellsinki rock&roll underground ’89-’99 was published in 2000. He also came close to never graduating. His saving grace was that Pirkko Koski, a professor of theatre research important to him, was about to retire.

– Koski had been there when I started my studies, and for years she had told me stories about people such as Jouko Turkka and had encouraged me in my academic efforts. The importance of completing my master’s thesis and getting my degree became apparent to me when I discovered my study credits were about to expire and Koski was going to retire. In all honesty, I felt ashamed for not having finished my studies sooner.

Puustinen wrote his master’s thesis on the way Kristian Smeds directed his play Rautavaara—Oulunkylän tähti. While finishing the thesis, he was also working on his second non-fiction book 22-Pistepirkko (2005). He graduated as a Master of Arts in the summer of 2006.

Viljami Puustinen
The new editor-in-chief of the Rumba magazine in the autumn of 2006. Photo from the archive of Rumba.


Go Back