Marijke Buurlage Fresh

Marijke Buurlage

This Leeuwarden, Netherlands–based illustrator draws inspiration from 1950s, 1960s and 1970s children’s books.  

Marijke  Buurlage

Duration: Three years.

Education: BA in communication design and illustration from the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen, Netherlands.

Location: Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

Career path: I never thought I could illustrate as a career or even study art until I was nineteen years old. After finishing high school, I really struggled to make the right decision for my future—until my mom gave me the idea to apply to art school. I always thought art was interesting, but I felt that my creations weren’t good enough for art school. Well, I applied anyway and got accepted. During school, I worked really hard to significantly improve my work. After graduating, I worked even harder to get as many assignments as possible. Now, I seize every opportunity. For the past few months I’ve been working a lot on magazine illustrations and packaging designs, but I have been commissioned for a diverse range of projects—posters, books, branding, packaging and editorial illustrations—and I love that diversity! Working on such different projects motivates me, and it will never get boring. 

I’ve got the best job in the entire world. I’m aware of that every day!

Artistic influences: Children’s books from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s inspire me. I frequent secondhand stores to look through all their beautifully illustrated book covers. I love these books’ use of color, shapes and adorable characters. My vintage children’s book collection grows by the week! 

Favorite projects: My latest cultural series for the trade bloc Pacific Alliance’s magazine called Four nations, an infinite experience. I combined elements from Peruvian, Mexican, Colombian and Chilean culture into one image per different cultural themes: contemporary, natural, and ancient and living. Capturing an entire culture with just a few images is incredibly difficult, especially when you are not that familiar with the culture you’re illustrating, but I’m happy that the project turned out really well. I’ve worked for two different companies in South America on projects that involve culture, and these projects contain some of my best illustrations so far. 

Approach: During my time at art school, I only worked with pencils, markers and acrylic paints. I never tried to combine these with digital techniques. But this changed when I joined Artdivision, a part of Groningen-based music venue Vera. Because Artdivision produces promotional gigposters for Vera’s concerts—all designed in-house and screen-printed by hand—I had to build illustrations differently, using limited color palettes and layers. Surprisingly, these limitations worked perfectly for me! I started scanning my illustrations—drawn by hand with ink—before coloring and arranging them digitally. I still use this technique to this day.

Philosophy: Although it’s a bit cliché, never give up on what you do. Remember to enjoy your path to success instead of thinking about it as a difficult, heavy burden. I’ve got the best job in the entire world. I’m aware of that every day!


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