Duration: After working for a year as a print and accessories designer, I started as a freelance illustrator. At first, I joined forces with a colleague and we ran an illustration studio for about eight years, but ultimately I decided that I needed the freedom to work on my own ideas. I have been working solo for two-and-a-half years now.
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Education: Propaedeutic diploma in art history from the University of Amsterdam; BFA in illustration design from Hogeschool Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Career path: Upon discovering the pencil at the age of two, I was lost to art and succumbed to creating it. I drew on every scrap of paper I could get my hands on—even my school notebooks, which my math teacher didn’t really appreciate. I tried out different kinds of materials and created my own stories on paper. My first inspiration for creating art came from my grandfather; he was a typographic painter, painting signs for businesses and lettering on trains. He was also really skilled at Hindeloopen art, a specific kind of Dutch traditional painting, and he showed me his love for different crafts and materials. I remember the smell of his attic workspace, full of all the different kinds of paint—I love that smell.
Artistic influences: Nature is the biggest theme in my work, so I like to travel out of the city and explore the natural world, collecting specimens and taking photographs along the way. As for art inspiration, I’m really into the Dutch Golden Age with its elaborate still-life paintings, but also folk art, symbolism and artists like Albrecht Dürer, Eugène Grasset and Ernst Haeckel. I’m somewhat of a bookworm, so whenever I read anything that inspires me—myths, fairytales, poetry and all sorts of fiction—I make little notes of my ideas in the margins.
Work environment: My studio is in my old canal house in Amsterdam, on a small mezzanine above my kitchen. It has a big bookcase, where I keep books and inspiring treasures I’ve collected during travels, thrifting and general wanderings: a branch covered with lichen from Sweden, insects cast in epoxy and a ceramic squirrel from Mexico. A few prints and originals from fellow artists adorn the walls. I have a ’50s drawing table, where I begin my drawings, and a desk with a laptop and a Wacom Cintiq 22HD, my newest favorite gadget. And tea—there is always a cup of herbal tea on my desk, which I sometimes forget about and dip my pen or brush into.
Approach: I’ve always felt that I have to create art that is critical or has a dark side. Life and the world around us are filled with duality. But my work never turns out that way. It has a delicacy and a stillness about it. Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I create the opposite of a dark side: art which embraces the light, where people can find solace and wander carefree.
Philosophy: Continue to evolve. Keep developing, so your art becomes more distinguished as the years pass by. Keep learning. Never stop!