I don’t know why I have never been here before, but I’m sure glad I went this year: the Biennial of Illustration in Haarlem. A festival and meet up for illustrators, but also for lovers of illustration and graphic art. You probably know that feeling when you walk into a small shop somewhere and you stumble upon gorgeous picture books or beautiful prints. Whoever is with me at that point will just have to wait. I can disappear in those books and examine each line and the use of color, imagine it on my shelf and try to figure out if I’m going to regret it if I don’t buy it.
Happiness mixed with greed. I think that’s what it is. Beautiful colorful illustrations everywhere.
Well, I walked into the venue where this illustration festival was held and there was a Boycott Books popup store filled with illustrated books. Happiness mixed with greed. I think that’s what it is. Beautiful colorful illustrations everywhere. I managed to stay strong and not buy a bunch of them (I needed to repeat my less stuff mantra…)
The organization asked 10 illustrators to create artwork for a vinyl album cover of their favorite music. It’s incredible to see the totally different styles of every illustrator. It is so versatile. It makes me feel like there really is a place for everyone in illustration, which is a good thing to remember when you start to doubt yourself.
The main program was 3 blocks of 3 illustrators / graphic artists talking about their work and process. It was a nice mix of animation, book- and editorial illustration. I’ve seen 6 of them and was in awe of the work of Medy Oberendorff. She makes the most gorgeous detailed botanical illustrations. She studied Scientific Illustration in Maastricht – seriously, if I knew 18 years ago that that was actually a thing… She told us about the books she illustrated, showed us the beautiful artwork she makes (there were a lot of ohs and wows coming from the audience) and shared a bit of the process behind it.
Another illustrator who blew me away was Ludwig Volbeda, a (childrens-)book illustrator with a love for words. Or more specifically: the combination of words and images. He had such a charming story to tell, funny and touching. He gave us a little peek inside his head and his sketchbooks that are filled with tiny scribbles and small boxes of illustrations. A real treasure. You can find more of his fascinating work at his website and his Instagram. Again a lot of ohs and wows from the audience when he showed them.
Below is the cover of one of the books he illustrated: ‘Hoe Tortot zijn vissenhart verloor’, written by Benny Lindelauf.
I came home all inspired and full of energy (and without any picture books *patting myself on the shoulder*). Sometimes I forget how extremely lucky I am that I get to be an illustrator, that my job is to draw and create for people who will pay me to do so. Seeing all those talented illustrators out there, I kind of needed to pinch myself that I am one of them. Maybe not thát talented, but still. I am working as a professional illustrator, developing my style, getting better and that’s a really cool thing.
The Dutch Biennial of Illustration is organized – obviously – every two years in the Toneelschuur in Haarlem. So next up is 2020. If you speak Dutch and you love illustration: don’t miss it!