1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hi, my name is Esther, I work under the name Vonik (that name sorta stuck after a few years of teenage graffiti) I’m an illustrator from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where I work from a lovely messy studio shared with 5 other creatives.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
On the one hand I make these completely full coloured, detailed, layered, digital illustrations. And on the other hand I make very contrasty black and white line drawings, which lend themselves very well for murals and customizing products. Both approaches are flowy, happy, quirky, clumsy in a cute way and tend to have some handlettering, (bad)puns or easter eggs in them.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Haha, well.. My number one friend is a 0,5 mechanical pencil, I always start sketching and drawing with that cause no matter how hard I try, digital sketches (or even sketches with another type of pencil) still don’t create the same vibe.
And besides the pencil I also love the feeling of a marker/brush moving over a fresh white wall/canvas/paper, that’s like my drawing nerd meditation.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Before the actual drawing there often is the concept part, which usually means just staring out of the window sheepishly for way to long and letting my brain do the work. After a while I whip out my earlier mentioned mechanical pencil and start scribbling away until I’m satisfied about the images and the composition. Than I either scan it and start colouring and texturing digitally or I get a piece of tracing paper and ink everything by hand, depending on what I’m going for.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Nature is a big inspiration, I like how the shapes are always a bit flowy and never just straight hard lines. But I also get ideas from looking at people in the city and hearing what sort of (weird) conversations they’re having. And off course I can scroll the internet for hours looking at what other people make! There is so much beautiful work out there.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
From a young age on drawing (and painting) was ‘my thing’, where others had sports or making music (which I sucked at both) I had drawing, and it’s great that this ‘thing’ turned into my profession! Over the years when I got better in working with colour, composition and scale I started to notice and appreciate more types of design than just drawings, there is design in everything around us.
Because of this way of looking at everything I can get happy and excited by, let’s say, a well designed toaster, or I can get sincerely frustrated with a shampoo bottle because the kerning of the letters is done horribly!! (true story).
7. Where did you study?
Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Illustration at the Willem de Kooning academy.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
Talking about the ideal situation; I hope that within 5 years I’ve expanded my freelance client base in such a way that I will be able to combine travel and working as much as I can. This year has already brought me two work-trips abroad, which is great! If I can make that number grow within the next five years, maybe with the help of (foreign) agencies, I would be very pleased.
9. What about in ten?
Haha, the dreamer part of me sees myself emigrated to a pleasant sunny country that isn’t as familiar with cold and rain as the Netherlands are. Oh, and that country should also have an excellent cuisine, cause I LOVE food. But the realistic side of me knows that I’ll miss everyone and everything back home way to much to be gone longer than 3 months, so that’s gonna be a nice inner struggle.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
Making my illustrations makes me smile, so I hope the same for the people who look at them.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Here I’ll have to be very un-inspirational or unique, I’m a simple girl, I just love pizza from the bottom of my heart..
12. Favourite book?
I think I must admit that that would be the Harry Potter series. And design wise I really like ‘A Map of the world’ from Gestalten.
13. Favourite genre of music?
This gradually shifted from only listening to punk, rock and metal (yes, puberty) to listening to almost everything. A quick grab from my current playlist to illustrate that: Cat Power, Brody Dalle, Brian Eno, Dr. Lektroluv, Dirk Maassen, Hudson Mohawke and to top it of, my guilty pleasure; Jean Paul.
14. What are your hobbies?
I enjoy cooking, eating, sunny bike rides, (analogue) photography and strolling around town.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
That’s an easy one, as a kid I always thought that I would become a hairdresser, because I never figured that this ‘drawing thing’ of mine could be something to make proper money with. I actually don’t know precisely why I wanted to become a hairdresser so bad, but I’m glad I didn’t, now I can just draw haircuts as big, crazy and colourful as I want them to be, that seems way easier.