I have a soft spot for European illustrations, kind of like UK or Australian accents. When I saw Marjolein Varekamp's pictures of pig and mouse wearing wellies, fixing a red airplane, and dreaming of bats and chocolates, I contacted her hoping she would be interested in working on a project together. Lucky for Bees Knees Books she was! Marjolein tells us a bit about herself, her books and her art. BTW that's Harold the little mouse with the glasses. Marjolein you live in the Netherlands. Tell us a little about your childhood there.
I had a long, quiet, cushioned and pleasant childhood. Being the late arrival of the family (I have a brother and a sister), meant that I was pampered a lot, but also that I had to play on my own for most of the time. I loved playing with my cuddly toys, drawing, doing handicraft with mysister, collecting wildflowers and going to my ballet lessons. I have spent most of my childhood living in the country. My parents taught me to respect and love nature. To admire all things beautiful and to maybe create some more.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
My inspiration comes mainly from observation: animals (real or toy ones), the garden, interior design magazines, everyday life, art (e.g. Rembrandt, Cézanne, William Morris).
You went to art school in London. How has that influenced your work?
At art school in Holland I had studied painting, etching and drawing. In the end my work was nearly abstract. My Graphic Design Studies in London made me return to my roots and real passion: creating and illustrating children’s books. Also: leaving home, being a mature student, married and all, made me realize it was time to grow up, leave school and have children. (We have two.)
You have previously published children's books and worked on concept books for children. Please tell us about that creative process.
Usually it starts off with a simple idea: an imaginative picture of an animal character in a setting. What would be nice, funny and interesting for children to happen? The story develops as a series of pictures. Words are added. Than a few spreads are made for real and put into a dummy to visit publishers.
What would you say is the most fulfilling part about being a children's author/illustrator?
As a creator of children’s books you can step back into childhood. Imagine a world you would like to be in. And during the making of it you really are. Whenever a book is actually published, you see this world from the outside. And if children (and adults) like it, it surely feels wonderful.
Are there any children's authors/ illustrators that you admire?
As a child I was (and still am) a great fan of the Golden Books and Winnie-the-Pooh. I also admire John Burningham, Tony Ross, Ron Briggs, Jan Piénkowski, Max Velthuijs, Quentin Blake, Gitte Spee and many more.
What tips/advice would you give to aspiring authors and illustrators?
Realize this seemingly gentle and loving profession can be very very tough. Don’t be shy and hold on to your own style. Where can we go to read more about you and your art?
You can visit my website at www.marjoleinvarekamp.com
Look for more from this talented author/illustrator and a special collaboration with Bees Knees Books coming late Summer.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Posted by Nancy Arruda at 4:00 PM