Sunday, December 06, 2009


The lot

A little less than a month ago I finished and presented the project I did for the Fiep Westendorp Foundation, or rather the project the Fiep Westendorp foundation gave me the opportunity to do.
Long time readers of this blog may remember me making reference to having been awarded one of the three Fiep Westendorp stimulation awards in november 2007.
Now two years further down the road the project has been finished.

But those circumstances are of course just the framework. The grant they gave me allowed me to devote my time to working on a project of my own invention. A dream opportunity for any illustrator, so when I heard about it I jumped at it. The only thing was that I had no idea what I wanted to do. The only project I sort of wanted to work on was a picture book about Saint Nicholas, a murderous inn keeper and a boy who was pickled and brined. Not something I felt would have been the most suitable way to obtain the grant.

So over the summer I came up with a project proposal that included my favourite things to make and draw, yet remained vague enough so as not to bog me down to one thing for to years.

The project I proposed was a picture book and a stop motion animation. It was to be a collection of stories about a set of characters. I described it as one half Winnie the Pooh and one half Jan Svankmajer.
Amazingly enough they actually thought this was a good idea, or at least that I showed enough promise to succesfully turn this into something worthwile.

Which meant that I had to actually get to work. And I discovered that making a book when you basically have every option is a lot harder than it seems.
For a year I sketched, doodled and wrote, and collected enough material for probably two books.
I took the stories I liked best and got to work on making the final versions in january this year. My intention was to work on it in the spring so I could devote the summer and autumn to an animated short.

I could have started earlier of course, were it not for two important objections; namely, first I am a procrastinator of enormous prowess, but mostly it took me a long time before I felt I had a good sense of what the project should be.

In the year I had worked on it, I had had a lot more work as an illustrator and consequently developed my work a lot. So my conception of the project had developed along with it. For the better too, as the final result is far better I think than what I had initially in mind.

But in February I had a terrible circumstance happen in my family that swallowed up a lot of time. I was engaged in lots of arrangements that needed to be made and every inclination towards drawing was snuffed out anyway.
So when May came around I found myself going back to America and having to do the illustrations for a childrens' book first.

By the time I was home again and ready to get back to work it was july.
I feel I'm starting to make this sound like a list of excuses, but basically you have my year in a nutshell here: a long series of distractions, some awful, some absolutely wonderful.

For most of the time past couple of months I worked on the book, drawing and redrawing the stories. I found out that I was the hardest client I ever had. Never satisfied and always changing his mind.

Then about a month before the presentation my appendix almost burst and I had to go the hospital for several days. Completely interrupting my schedule.
So the nice brisk stroll towards the finishing line became a last minute dash.

However in the end I managed to finish the project on time and basically the way I wanted it to be (just a shame I had a blackout during my speech).

Now I know, that none of you come to this blog for the text, so here are some of the illustrations for the project. It's called Tales from the Marsh, which is a dull English translation of its Dutch name: Kleine verhalen uit de moeraskoffer.

You can find nearly all the illustrations on my site:
(it's gotten a complete redesign).

1 comment:

Lisa Evans said...

These illustrations are awesome. I love the ghost :)