Like many who mindlessly doodle, independent Dutch designer Hansje van Halem found it soothing to draw repetitive textural patterns when not working to meet her hectic poster and book design deadlines. Encouraged by her colleagues’ praise for the wavy, prickly, hairy and sometimes scaly sketches she had begun posting online, van Halem kept experimenting—applying dizzying, detailed patterns to borders and letterforms until she eventually developed the highly electric illustrative style that enlivens all her work today.
Van Halem documents this evolution in Sketches, a compilation of self-generated and commissioned drawings published in 2013. In the future, she hopes to apply her pattern work to designer fabrics and, perhaps, banknotes “if people are still using physical money,” she says.
Though van Halem works alone from her studio in Amsterdam, she stays connected to her social network by hosting Shrank8 Gallery events, a dinner-plus-exhibit series showcasing fellow designers’ portfolios. The series has brought more than 1,500 creative colleagues through her living room.