As a creative freelancer you might feel a bit alone at times. For me it works really well to listen to other creatives! I don’t listen to anything while I do thinking work but when I’m doing line work or colouring, I love to listen to a good podcast. Occasionally I get the question what podcasts I recommend so I have compiled a list with my own personal favourites. It’s mainly focused on illustrations, just so you know 😉 I hope you like them too!
There are illustrators that faithfully stick to one medium almost their entire careers. I’m not one of them. I love experimenting, trying out new material, different pencils, digital techniques. Trying new materials will bring my skills to a new level. For some years now I saw mostly American illustrators using a weird kind of gouache: Acryla Gouache by Holbein. They were not available in Europe, but this year the paints were finally for sale in my country!
Although I have been a freelancer for many years, this was a year of firsts. By the end of 2016 I wrote down some wishes for 2017, one of them being ‘illustrating a magazine cover’ and ‘illustrating a children’s book’. Both came true! I had so many nice projects in 2017 so it was hard to make a decision. But here we go: my favourite illustration projects of 2017!
Illustrations for a cake bakery in Antwerp
When I got first contacted by the girls of Baked in Antwerp (Belgium) I was already excited: they asked me if I could make illustrations for their cake bakery and if I could add some humour to it. Can I? Would love to! It is so nice to see my work on their website and even on a van.
Non-fiction book cover
I had the honour to do this cover for Allemachtig, written by Katalien Bollen and Tine Bergen, and published by Houtekiet. It was an absolute joy to work on it and I’m so proud of the end result! What I loved about this project is that I did the illustrations of the plants, which allowed me to dive into botanical books, but I also did the typography, made out of washi tape. The names of the authors and the subtitle is all my own handwriting.
First magazine covers
This has been high on my list for a while and when I was asked to hand letter the cover of health care magazine Ca-va, I was so happy! In the past year I did more hand lettering for this magazine which was absolutely great. A few months after that cover I was asked again to create the cover, this time in illustrations. I couldn’t believe my luck! An absolute dream come true.
You might remember my comics going viral in the beginning of 2017. It was quite a hectic time, with interviews, seeing my comics everywhere on the web! But due to my comics I also got to do a monthly cartoon in a Belgian magazine, to cheer up the pages a bit. It’s a magazine for trade union, called NT Magazine, so the topics are quite serious and that’s more reason for me to create something funny. I like challenges like this! 🙂
Children’s chapter book cover
When I started illustrating over seven years ago, my intention was to get into children’s illustration. Although I briefly was making picture books in the early days of my career I soon got into illustration for magazines which I love! For many illustrators creating children’s books is the holy grail of illustration and it’s really difficult to get into it in my opinion. So I was over the moon when I got asked to create the book cover of Milla, a book published by Ravensburger in Germany, written by Rüdiger Bertram. I also did the handlettering of the book cover, something I often do. This way the end result is one nice whole.
Illustrations for I’m A Foodie
Again, something food related! Although I love chocolate and occasionally a cake, I am into eating healthy (mainly because of my boyfriend who’s truly a fit boy 😉 ). For the lovely people of I’m A Foodie I got to make illustrations for their website and another one of my wish list: packaging, for their home-made granola.
First illustrated Dutch children’s book
This was a work of labour but the end-result is worth it: my first non-fiction children’s book, called Welke superkracht wil jij hebben, written by Annelies Fontijne. In this book children can fill out their answers on several quirky questions. I made over 130 illustrations for the book! Author Annelies gave me the freedom to go wild with the illustrations which allowed me to get everything out of it.
Editorial illustrations with tons of freedom
Magazine Kampioen published by ANWB is around since 130 years(!). It’s a magazine I flipped through when when I was a little girl at my grandparent’s house. When they asked me to create several illustrations I was excited. They also let me do whatever I thought fitted the article, for which I’m always grateful because the more freedom you give an illustrator, the better the end result I think.
Teaching an online class
We had been talking about this since late 2016, we filmed it early 2017 and it was released in the fall of 2017: my class (or ‘klass’) for Sketchbook Skool! I was incredibly nervous because I am not that comfortable on camera yet. But the responses to the class have been great and I’m so proud of this collaboration between Koosje Koene, Danny Gregory and me!
First Dutch fully illustrated book
I hoped to create books in 2017 and did my wish come true… This book, called Pick One was my first fully illustrated book of the year. Inge van Prooijen collected hundreds of quotes and made quote battles with them. Which quote suits you best? I created colour illustrations throughout the book.
BONUS: making products and personal work
Creating personal work is necessary to me, to keep exploring and developing my skills. What I love is creating products of my illustrations which I sell in my web shop. This year I made two different pins (Fuzzy Legs Club and a bookworm pin), a calendar and several prints of my original work. To me creating products is a great way to explore new ways to use my illustrations.
All in all, 2017 was the busiest year I ever had. I couldn’t mention all projects, it would have been too many but I was happy to be able to work with so many great companies and lovely people. The biggest part was absolutely amazing but of course being a freelancer is sometimes difficult too. I was really tired a lot of the time, because I took on a bit too much work. It was a year where I had to deal with a lot of heart-breaking copyright infringement cases. Companies and people stealing/using your work without permission is something I can not understand. It was also a year where I learned a lot about life, about myself and about what is best for me.
And what’s coming for 2018…
I already have a few great projects lined up for the next few months: as we speak I’m working on a chapter book for a German publisher, but this time with interior illustrations as well. I think it’s going to be great! There are also going to be new workshops, of which one with one of my favourite Dutch writers. There are also new children’s book covers coming and I’m illustrating a book on ADHD for teenagers.
But I’m also making a wish list again for dream projects: this coming year I really want to make a picture book and I would love to do more book cover designs. I would love to design the packaging for an honest food brand, and I want to get my hands on animation.
Ontvang elke maand mijn nieuwsbrief met tips en inspiratie, kijkjes achter de schermen, workshops en nieuw werk.
It might be hard to believe but the end of 2017 is in sight. It’s been a year where I’ve learned a lot and I would love to share my own little life lessons with you. It’s very personal so take from it whatever suits you, and if it’s not for you that’s fine too of course.
It’s been over four years already since I made a big change in my life.
I am writing this because I have been making cut-out illustrations this past week and after posting it on Instagram, a friend commented with reminding me that I did something similar for my exhibition early 2013.
You can click on the photos to see a bigger photo.
Early January, 2013, I was working on my very first exhibition that solely consisted of free work (in Dutch: ‘autonoom werk’). The opening was planned somewhere by the end of January and although it was planned for months in advance, I hadn’t made any work by early January.
My heart was somewhere else: figuring out if I should leave art or leave my love. Yes, it was as dramatic as it sounds here 😀 To make a long story short: the one I loved so dearly didn’t approve of the illustration career I was pursuing, and asked me to make a choice.
Early that month, I knew what it was going to be, as I couldn’t imagine my life without creating or drawing.
In just seven days I created all these art pieces and looking at them makes me well up, even after four years. There is so much love and pain in these works, I can’t even explain. To some it may seem as just simple pieces of work, naively made, not even ‘real art’. To me, it’s much more.
During the opening of the show there were some people that didn’t understand what they were seeing here. One man said: “I can’t believe they put this up here”. I didn’t care: this was what I wanted to make and wanted to tell. I couldn’t care less what others thought.
I made a painting on the book ‘Resurrection’ by Tolstoy. It shows a girl climbing out of a cocoon, which was symbolic for how I felt at the time.
I felt I had been hiding who I was for years and now it was time to get out and be who I really was. Seeing the pieces now, I understand that most works were about coming out of my hiding place and be seen.
I ended up making a few pieces with all very cryptic meanings. A self-portrait that you could only really see when you looked in the mirror on the wall. And still, you would see it in a different perspective than normal.
Three of the pieces were sold: the cup with the girl in the lower left corner was sold to a dear friend of mine. The book with the girl looking out of the window (middle) was sold to a primary school. The cut-out girl in the glass bell on the right was given to another friend of mine, who was really ill at the time.
One friend asked me if I didn’t mind selling the pieces. I didn’t, but I couldn’t really explain why I didn’t mind. Now I realise it’s because it were all pieces of my heart and if someone wanted to buy them and take care of them, I was grateful.
The piece you see here on the left, was my absolute favourite. I am still happy I could give it to my friend. She passed away in October last year.
It stands for being shut off from the outside world. At that time I had felt so disconnected from the real world for so many years, I didn’t know what I felt or who I was any more.
I painted a girl on thick paper, with headphones on. I cut a piece of wire of real headphones and connected it to the girl and to the glass bell over the girl. The piece of wood came from my own backyard.
After the exhibition, I stayed in my home town for a little longer, until I found a temporary place to live on the other side of the country. I had always wanted to live somewhere else, as I lived in my home town for 28 years.
Still, to this day, this exhibition is my dearest. It reminds me that I should continue to follow my heart, even if it’s scary as hell.
Thanks for reading, until next time!
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This morning you woke up and you decided you want to be [insert dream-job]. Well, go to the shop and buy some instant-skill-pills and let’s get going! Order your new career and skills before 11 PM and get them delivered tomorrow.
Being an illustrator is a hot job: everybody wants to be an illustrator these days. It sounds romantic, iddylic almost. Drawing and painting all day every day. And when you got the skills to create a beautiful drawing, why not make this your full-time job, right?
But where to begin? And is it the most romantic job ever? For those who are ready to dive into the world of professional illustration, I wrote this blog. Please know that this blog is written based on my own experiences and the experiences of illustrator-friends. It also includes advice of other professional illustrators.