'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 6 September 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Ester de Boer

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Intricate, detailed, eccentric, dark, humorous, imaginative and cheeky.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Something to listen to (usually audiobooks) as I work, orderly space (is my dream, but yet to be achieved), lots of spare paper to scribble ideas on, a trained monkey to bring me never-ending hot Milos and snacks, a big range of media options (and space to experiment in) and no distractions/ interruptions (monkey excepted).

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
For the last (almost) thirty years I have carried around a black felt tip pen and mini sketch book with me everywhere, simply because it’s cheap and accessible, so it’s become my most comfortable medium. I spent my late teens sitting in the mall all day practicing figures and portraits on the sly, so it was also inconspicuous!

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Oh my gosh, just three? I grew up discussing art with my dad since I was little so I have gone through so many phases. Unchanging loves though are Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky and Van Gogh. My favourite illustrator ever is Arthur Rackham.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Late nineteenth to early twentieth century, Belle Epoque and a bit earlier. It was such a rich time for new ideas and styles. I would love to party with Toulouse Lautrec and drink absinthe ‘til the early hours with Van Gogh in a night cafĂ©. I know that would end badly (to start with I don’t really drink), but I'd love to say I did it!

Who or what inspired you to be an illustrator?
I really am useless at everything else - seriously- so a process of elimination. In every miserable occupation I have uncomfortably attempted, I have kept myself sane by scribbling all over the paperwork. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
Okay, I must explain that the term 'work space' is pretty flexible. The photo is my official work space and no, it doesn’t usually look this good. I work all over the place when I can, with a mini sketchbook and an ink pen OUT of my studio. When creating final artwork, I surround myself with hundreds of images. In the case of the present project these are of jungle plants and animals. I either have them pinned all over the wall or in folders on my computer. I use a clothes rack to hang the works in process, so I can flick through them and see them in order. It’s also great for drying wet media when you don’t have space to lay the paper flat. I am not a multi tasker - I have to give myself totally to one project at a time and get completely in the zone.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
It depends on the project. I love the scribbling stage- drawing up ideas and potential characters.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
I would have to repeat what I have been advised of late, that is, to choose projects and work in a style that is 'you', rather than looking round at what is popular or more marketable.

Ester de Boer has been an obsessive scribbler since toddlerhood. She loves making eccentric, detailed illustrations that make you look … and look again and hopes that her pictures will be the ones that the readers will be able to recall with fondness well into old age.

You can find out more by visiting Ester's website or by following her on facebook, where she shares the roughs, notebook scribbles and works in progress.