For this article in the international artist series, we turn to the Netherlands, featuring six illustrators and designers who create fantastic work, from illustration to graphic design and more! I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Kokako is a small animation and illustration studio in the Netherlands that includes the work of Mina Stojanovic, Hannah Damstra, and Kenzo Bruijnaers. From fun motion graphics to fantastic illustrative work, their portfolios are positively wonderful. You can check out more of their work in their portfolio or in the selection of pieces below!
Through Another Looking Glass
"The Netherlands is a very free country. The way our culture and country itself influenced our work is that we feel we have a freedom of speech. Because of that, we are able to express our thoughts and views on different subjects and include humor, something that we often do and that characterizes our work.
"The Netherlands also has a very rich history in art and design. This is maybe more of an inspiration than an influence, but we do feel like we have a stage to showcase our work because of the many initiatives in the art and design sector."
Loulou & Tummie
Loulou and Tummie are a design duo based in Tilburg, Netherlands. Their work is vibrant and fun, fueled by kooky character designs and ranging from plush art to graphic design to print media. You can check out more of their work in their portfolio or in a small section of pieces below.
Ukulele feel good crap
"Knowing what it is exactly or not, everyone in the Netherlands at least has heard of or is known with the term Dutch Design. It's used to connote designs created in the Netherlands. This mainly applies to product design but also graphic design and perhaps other design that features a certain look at things.
CONVERSE Surprise & Delight campaign
"Typical about Dutch Design is probably that it's often minimalist, somehow innovative and being a bit funny or silly I guess. Now, our work has been referred to as Dutch Design as well, something that might be correct, we're not sure. We never looked at it that way before but I guess our work often shows some of those features.
"Anyway, the term comes from a tradition of contemporary design and the pride of it. The Dutch have been making a name with their graphic design in the previous century and art and design schools have been pretty good all along here, I believe.
"So, we all grew up unconsciously surrounded by 'quality design' and if you look around you can still see it too. I can't tell if it's all quality but it is somehow recognizable at least."
Marta is a graphic designer and art director based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her aesthetic is modern and filled with bright colors and geometric design. You can check out more of her work in her portfolio or in the small selection of pieces below.
Marta Veludo Identity
"I think by living in Amsterdam I had to get used first of all with weather changes. This changes the way you live, your daily routine and all aspects of your life.
Rebok Creative Hub - 25 Years of Ventilator
"In the winter I work more than in the summer and I intend to be more strict and practical. In the summer I want to go out, meet new people (possible new clients) make exhibitions, collaborations, stuff outside and not behind of the computer.
Find The M - 36daysoftype
"Dutch culture gave me the chance to be more experimental, daring and with no fear of hard measures. I really admire the free and 'everything is possible' mindset."
Wijtze is an illustrator and designer based in Meppel, Netherlands. His work is vibrant and fun, consisting mostly of geometric shapes and an assortment of characters. You can check out more of his work in his portfolio or in the small selection of pieces below.
DripforDrip - Cars
"The biggest way that growing up and living in the Netherlands has influenced me as an illustrator is our bicycle culture. Growing up I wasn't aware of how unique my country's bike culture is, but spending a year doing an internship in the US made me realize how much attention we have for bikes and how much I need my bike to stay sane.
"Riding a bike provides room to breathe, and there's a particular rhythm you feel on a bike that's hard to explain. My illustration style is very graphic design based and in creating illustration compositions I believe I am looking for that same rhythm, space and air that happen on a bike.
"Not having objects touch each other too much, always looking for the balance between too-busy and too-minimalistic, a lot of my artwork is based on the rhythm of the composition. Obviously I also draw a lot of characters riding bicycles."
Wheels Of Cheese
Rafael is an illustrator and animator based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His work is dreamlike, capturing beautiful, often muted tones and a fantastic amount of motion. You can check out more of his work in his portfolio or in the small selection of pieces below.
"There are a lot of interesting spots in Holland quite close to each other. You have Amsterdam, where I live, with its centuries-old always-busy center and elegant parks and then Rotterdam, young in architecture and more diverse in its city life just half an hour away, followed by Eindhoven with its design-excellence and the beautiful south, especially Brabant, is again just a short train ride.
"There is inspiration to find in every corner, in the beautiful museums, canals and markets, the kindness and laissez-faire attitude of people around you.
"The simplicity of Dutch design never really related to me with the people´s general character, but it surely helps you as an artist to discipline yourself to filter out the best in your work.
"In general the mercantile history of Holland has led to Dutch culture becoming quite easy and open-minded. These days you can see that especially in its modern architecture and in the incredibly innovative design creations of the last decade.
A Maze - Poster
"On the other hand you have very traditional art forms of pottery (in Delft) and all sort of cute knitted work around. Dutch artists tend to be huge professionals with a never ending almost childlike interest for anything new. If anything that's what I'm trying to adopt: to get really good in what I do and to never shut myself away from new ideas."
Self Promotional Work
Rutger is an illustrator based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His work is playful and shows a fantastic amount of depth thanks to the medium in which he works. You can check out more of his work in his portfolio or in the small selection of pieces below.
"My country is really flat. Maybe my urge to make very flat 3D renderings (no reflections or textures) is inspired by the Dutch Landscape. Who knows!
"There is also a thing I have with orange, our national color. I love to use that color in my work. Besides my own illustrations I don’t have anything with it; I don’t have orange walls or clothes. Really funny, it’s my favorite color to work with, but ignore it completely in the rest of my life. Maybe it’s an unconscious influence of my home country to represent them.
"There is a strong graphic design culture; Dutch Design used to be a huge thing. My art school teachers made sure we were very aware of that. I’m educated as a graphic designer, so that culture and the ‘old’ heroes such as Wim Crouwel definitely inspired me. I loved the graphical, almost abstract work; I think it shows in my work as an illustrator these days.
Fortune Magazine - Contracts
"Besides the design culture the Netherlands is very good at planning and making everything very neat and organized. I feel my work definitely has that organized element. I also love to make very slick and neat renderings, it can definitely be something I inherited from the urge of the Dutch to make sure there is no clutter or noise, everything is organized very well.
Hero Jam - Production Process
"Planning is also a thing that is important to me, because I plan the things I want to do properly and work very structured I don’t have to worry or think about things such as deadlines which gives room in my head for the creative process. Also because of a proper planning I always have enough time to make an illustration perfect."
Many thanks to the artists featured above who took time out of their busy lives and work schedules to answer my questions about how their country and culture has influenced them and their work.
You can check out more of the work in the links below: