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

Thursday 16 April 2020

Meet The Illustrator: Cindy Van Schendel

Cindy van Schendel

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. 
Quirky, whimsical, textured and character driven.

What items are an essential part of your creative space? 
Paper and pencils to sketch out characters and ideas. Painted paper to use for cut-outs, scissors and glue. My watercolours, charcoal pencils, Indian ink, oil pastels and of course my computer with Photoshop on it.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I think I love oil pastels most, in combination with (coloured) pencils.

Name three artists whose work inspires you. 
Max Velthuijs: I love his work because of the strong characters he creates. They speak to my heart!
Fiep Westerdorp: Because of her use of form and colour, and I love her humour.
Laura Carlin: Her loose style and dreamy work inspires me to use my art supplies differently. 

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I would love to visit expressionism. I love the bold use of colour, the energy and the vitality of the art from that period. 

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
It was the little voice inside of me. ☺

I studied dance and worked a long time as a performer, teacher and choreographer. One day I started to write stories for children, but I missed the pictures.
In 2012 I illustrated one of my own stories, from scratch. I had no experience with drawing and painting at all, but I wanted to give it a try.

My illustrated story didn’t become a book, but after that I illustrated three stories for a friend, and got some illustration work as well. My life was very busy. I felt a lack of tools in my tool box, and I also didn’t know how to start a serious career as an illustrator. It was holding me back.

It took until the end of 2018 for me to have a serious talk with myself, and decided to give me and my illustration work all it needed. And that’s where I’m now. I’m following a lot of courses, I participate in communities for illustrators, show my work online, and work on my portfolio to show at for example the Bologna’s Children’s Book Fair in 2020. 
Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
I live in an old, big schoolhouse with lots of space. As the winters in Norway can be very cold, I move my working space to our living room during the cold months.

As my working corner is quite small at the moment, I have to organise my stuff. At the end of the day, I put everything away except for my pencils and sketchbook. I always have children’s picture books on my desk. Right now they are mostly books illustrated by Laura Carlin.

One desk is for drawing and painting. One is for working at my computer, and on the third one I put drawings, paper cuts, textures, etc. while I’m working.

I live in the mountains and in the wintertime the days are short. I love it to spend a lot of time in my working space then, when the fire is burning in the wood stove. This winter I hope to realise a new working space in one of the classrooms and work towards an exposition in our schoolhouse!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
When the characters start to live and get their personalities. Then I feel the ‘click’ and the illustration becomes a little story. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Practice a lot, connect with other illustrators, take good care of yourself, get inspired, produce a lot of work, follow courses, get to know the market, show your work. Be you and be proud of yourself, even when you have to work yourself through difficulties. Set small goals and work at them step by step.

Cindy grew up in a in the south of the Netherlands, studied dance, worked as a performer, teacher and choreographer and immigrated to Norway in 2007.
Today she is an illustrator who loves to create little stories that speak to the heart.

For more information please visit Cindy's website or follow her on instagram.