Instagram: @marijkeillustration


1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I grew up in a small village in the north of the Netherlands. My childhood was very peaceful and calm, but also full of adventures. When I was 17, I moved to the city to study. I soon found out that this study wasn’t for me, and two years later I applied to art school. Since graduating, I have been working fulltime as an illustrator.

Quest (small file)

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

I guess you could describe my style as playful, imaginative and vibrant. Colour palettes are very important to me and I spend a lot of time refining the colours for each project. I like unpredictable colour combinations and bright shades. My shapes are dynamic and whimsical, creating images that don’t have that fixed and static look that some digital artworks have. This is very important to me, so that’s why I draw everything by hand with ink, so the lines and shapes in my illustrations aren’t too smooth and straight (I like it when lines have a certain ‘liveliness’). I only do the colouring and arranging digitally.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

During my time at artschool I only worked with pencils, markers and acrylic paint. I never really tried to combine those techniques with digital ones. But when I became a part of the Vera Artdivision after graduating, this changed. Vera is a music venue that provides promotional gig posters for their concerts that are all screen printed by hand and designed by the people of this Artdivision. I never really tried any printing techniques before, so this challenged me to change my work method and build up my illustrations differently. I now had to limit my color palette and think about how I would create different layers in my illustrations. Surprisingly, these ‘limitations’ worked perfectly for me! I started combining my hand-drawn elements with digital editing. And this is how I still build up my illustrations: all the elements are drawn by hand with ink, scanned, and then colored and arranged digitally afterwards.

4. What is your artistic process like?

I always start with a rough sketch on the computer. After making this first sketch I start looking for inspiration; on the Internet, in books and outside. When I finally made up my mind about what I want to create exactly and how I am going to do this, I make a color palette that I am going to use (I don’t use more than 7 different colors most of the time). When I start working on the final version of the illustration, I begin with drawing all elements with a brush and ink on paper. Everything I make is drawn by hand first and then coloured and arranged digitally after. I’ve been working like this for three years now and I love it. It works so well for me.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work?

I think what mostly inspires me is nature. All the colors, patterns and shapes that you can find in nature are so amazing and beautiful! I often feel the need to sketch when I am outside watching the animals and botanicals. These little doodles I make often reappear in my illustrations as decorative elements. My work often contains ornaments that are inspired by nature; I don’t think I could create anything that is really ‘me’ without these botanical decorations. Also, I am really inspired by children’s books from the fifties, sixties and seventies. I often go to second-hand stores to look through all the beautifully illustrated covers of these books for inspiration. I love the use of color and shapes in these picture books and the characters are always so adorable. My vintage children’s book collection is growing every week!

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Sometimes when I look at beautiful artworks by other artists I can get so fascinated by the colours and shapes they used, but I am not even able to describe why the image intrigues me so much. I love that about art. It’s so personal, and I love the mystery around art. There’s no one in the world that can explain what ‘art’ is, because it’s so different for everyone. It doesn’t necessarily change the way I view the world, but it does change my state of mind every time I look at paintings in a museum, scroll through my Instagram feed or take a walk through nature .. and sometimes that is just what I needed! 🙂

Natural Recall - Poster (smaller size)

7. Where did you study?

I’ve studied Communication Design – Illustration at Minerva Academy in Groningen, the Netherlands.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope that in 5 years I will be able to say that I have illustrated a few picture books that I will be able to read to my daughter when she’s a little older (she’s only 3 months old now 😉).

9. What about in ten?

In ten years I hope to have moved out of the city into a small town, with lots of nature and quietness surrounding me. I grew up in a small town and although I love the city I live in, it’s sometimes a bit much for me – all the noise and all the people… I feel so much more at home when I can hear birds singing in the morning!

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I guess I just want to bring a smile to people’s faces, nothing more. Although educational projects for children are a favourite of mine as well! I love the way art can teach children about the world. ‘The Monster Project’ for instance: a project where artists recreate kids drawings in their own style. The final results are presented to the kids who made the original drawings with the intention to let the kids see what their ideas can turn into and therefore what they can accomplish. So happy that I’ll be contributing to this project this year for the third time!

Flow - Minder Uren Werken (small file)

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

I love cooking! At the moment my favourite thing to make is (vegan) banana oat muffins, but this changes every few weeks. I like to experiment a lot!

12. Favourite book?

At the moment I am working on a super fun picture book project – a children’s picture book version of the famous ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Shakespeare. This book will be published by Moppet Books and their book series is called ‘Kinderguides’: easy learning guides to classic books for children. They already published Kinderguides about Jane Eyre, The Odyssey and Pride and Prejudice. It’s such a fantastic project to work on! And while doing my research for this project (reading the book, watching the movie by Franco Zeffirelli from 1968, etc) I fell in love with this story! It’s such a pure and sweet love story, and so heartbreaking at the same time.

13. Favourite genre of music?

It’s always a bit difficult to choose a favourite genre, but I’ll give you some names of artists I love listening to: Joanna Newsom, Ludovico Einaudi, Wild Beasts and Patrick Watson.

14. What are your hobbies?

I am a big fan of photography and I also play the flute, piano and saxophone.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

NO idea, I can’t imagine my life without being an artist!

Uitgeverij Snor - Ansichtkaart (small file)Memoryspel foto (1) (small file)Travesias Magazine - Natural Bird Reserve (small file)Nongfu Spring - Tea Pi packaging picture (1) - Behance