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

Thursday 9 June 2022

Meet The Illustrator: Janneke Ipenburg

Janneke Ipenburg

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Colourful, humorous, sometimes poetic, with a love for painting animals.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
When I don’t have to concentrate too much, lately I prefer listening podcasts while painting. Additional, I have my paint (acrylics, gouache, watercolours), my coloured pencils and a scanner for editing.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I am into acrylics these days, often combined with coloured pencils. But in the end, it depends on the story what medium fits best to depict the narrative.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Simone Rea: I love his animals, his textures and his somehow surrealistic worlds. I love his compositions, his characters.
Carll Cneut: he is a real (messy) painter, with a lot of paint layers and very detailed. His colour choices are peculiar, and the images are sometimes strange and gloomy, in a very good way.
Shaun Tan: his worlds are surreal and yet so recognizable and realistic in a way. I love his books, the atmosphere, I am always touched by the story and his characters.
Rebecca Dautremer: (bonus, I couldn’t skip one) Her work is extraordinary, she is so insanely detailed, and again, I love the worlds she creates. Her colours are beautiful, and her angles are magnificent.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Hm, difficult one… Sometimes I would like to have a more loose style, so I could use some lessons from an expressionist. But to be honest, in my opinion picture book art is the most intriguing art there is.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Probably the books around me. My mom always took care of a variety of children’s books and picture books. Before I became an illustrator I graduated as a theatre designer, and although I loved the field, I didn’t love the workflow much (lot of practical stuff). Working on picture books is less complicated but still about creating and depicting a narrative. It’s both storytelling and as I said before, I LOVE picture book art.

Can you share a photo of your creative workspace or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
I have a small workspace at our home (with a view at our neighbour’s cattle). It is always kind of messy and I would love to have a bit more space, but it works good enough for now.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Mostly I work with a plan, I am not good at freestyle illustrating where you just see where the paint gets you. So, I need to know what I want to depict, and then I start painting. This is my favourite part, the colouring, where the illustration really comes to life!

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
I think these days it is more difficult to stand out with all the digital platforms and the amount of (amazing) illustrators around the world. It is a curse as well as an opportunity. It is easy to be an invisible fish in the ocean, but when you manage to stand out, digital platforms are a great way to find your audience. Be inspired by other artists, learn from their work, try to understand what works and why, and try to find your own style and techniques. Keep learning and keep being curious! And be a storyteller! Picture book illustrations is not about pretty pictures, but about narratives and intriguing scenes, even a single illustration.

Janneke lives in a former farm in a small village in the Netherlands. In 2002 she graduated Art School (HKU) as a theatre designer. Now she works as a freelance illustrator of picture books. One of her life goals is to become an author/illustrator and have some of her books translated (that must be so cool!).

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