Motivation Personal

Art heroes: David Hockney, Maira Kalman and Oliver Jeffers


For years I was afraid to admire other artists. I was scared I would copy them one way or another, so I tried to steer clear from them. But not too long ago I came to the realisation that by admiring and researching other artists, I would become a better artist myself.

I have told some of my close friends this already but I’m taking a semi-sabbatical from work. I say ‘semi’ because I’m a workaholic to the core and I have bills to pay.
But I do take more time off and I spend it researching art, visiting exhibitions, reading psychology books.

To take you along in my journey researching my own voice, I share with you my heroes, my realisations and my troubles. In this post, you read about three of my many heroes.
I hope you enjoy!

David Hockney

David Hockney

When I was around 17 years old, I developed an obsession with pop art. Andy Warhol, my biggest hero at the time, was friends with another artist called David Hockney

I researched the art of Hockney and discovered I like his art far better than Warhol’s, or popart for that matter. Hockney’s way of using colours, but also in his choosing whether what or what not to paint, is incredibly inspirational to me. Furthermore, his compositions are out of this world.

David Hockney
“My parents” (1977), Oil paint on canvas

David Hockney
“Bridlington Rooftops” (October 2005), oil on canvas


Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman

About two years ago I found Maira Kalman and her beautiful work. I have no clue how exactly, but suddenly her work popped up and I was smitten by it.

What I love in art is the narrative. I think that’s one of the reasons I became an illustrator, instead of an artist. My purpose is to tell stories with the help of images and I feel like Kalman is doing just that, in her own beautiful way.
I can highly recommend listening to her TED talk, ‘The Illustrated Woman‘.

Maira Kalman
Girl in Pink Dress (2013)

“Woman with Face Net” (2000), gouache on paper

Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers

And last but not least: Oliver Jeffers. The reason I started drawing again.

In art school I was tremendously heart broken because my teachers told me my drawing skills weren’t good enough to become an illustrator.
Although I didn’t realise it at the time but I had no intention to become an illustrator.

That might come as a surprise to you.

When I found Jeffers’ work, I realised what I am: a storyteller. I want to tell stories and yes, I use illustration to do so.
My purpose is not to become the best illustrator but I am working hard to become a really good storyteller.

Oliver Jeffers’ work is a guideline for me: he makes not only picture books, he also makes art. What he is doing is what I aim to do.
With every piece he makes he captivates you and takes you with him in his work. He shows you the story.

My absolute favourite book by him is ‘The Heart in a Bottle’. It has so many layers! So, if you go buy one, start with that one.

Oliver Jeffers
“Stay” (2013), oil and enamel on canvas

Oliver Jeffers
From his book “This moose belongs to me”.


What it does, and what are your thoughts?

I think my work is a mixture of those whom I admire. Of course, there are many more people I admire, so I will write every once in a while about my heroes.
Do you have personal heroes, that make you want to be a better person or artist? Who inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Marloes De Vries

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1 Comment

  • Reply Thea 26/05/2017 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing your (somewhat rockt) road with u’s!I once was told that the things you admire in another are already inside you, you only need to find it. I found that a very motivating, hopeful thought. Xx Thea

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