This past June we did something we have never tried before… we flew an artist from Europe to Seattle to film a class! The artist is the delightful Nelleke Verhoeff, and her new class will open for registration this coming Friday, August 30th!
I wanted to you get to know Nelleke a little bit, so I asked her to answer three questions. Answer #1 is below, with the others coming the next two days.
Nelleke Verhoeff, The Netherlands
1. How did you get into making 2D art and illustration?
I used to be a theater performer. My friend Herman and I played in theaters, in schools and at street festivals. We made physical and visual theatre using circus techniques and masks. We juggled, did acrobatics and I played the accordion.
In the meantime I discovered my love for painting by taking some painting classes. I also discovered my love for digital art and photography. Deep within me I knew I wanted to change direction towards making art. Not an easy step to take, you need to earn your money with it then too … But I took the risk because I really wanted it!
We quit theater and began to make websites. Herman is also a software developer, so he did the technique and I did the design. Some customers wanted illustrations on their website, and that was what I loved the most. So I took some online illustration classes at Pikaland and a totally new world opened for me.
I started my own company: Red Cheeks Factory. ( I made up this name, because ‘red cheeks’ stands for enthusiasm. I have it when I’m working, and also almost all my characters have red cheeks!) I set up a webshop and began to sell prints and postcards of my work. https://shop.redcheeksfactory.com/
I started a blog: ‘a face a day,’ because I love faces and their expressions. (Funny detail: I started this project after reading Carla’s book: ‘Drawing Lab’, where she talks about making 100 faces. That inspired me :-))
I made 365 faces in one year. It was quite a challenge. I did experiment a lot!
You can find them here: http://yepr-a-face-a-day.blogspot.com/
I also made some other blog posts about things I love. In one I wrote about one of my favourite children’s picture books. And then something magical happened …
Geert De Kockere, the author of that favourite book saw my post. He discovered my work and was charmed by it. He asked me if I would like to work together. The famous author… I was over the moon and dancing in my room!! It was a great and inspiring cooperation! And I discovered my love for making books.
The first book I illustrated was “Stil verwateren.” It is very dear to me, a poetry book including 1000 haiku’s and 71 drawings. It is such a nice feeling to see your name on a real book. 🙂
Since then we have made several books together. This one is my most favourite:
“Er is iets aan de kip met je hand” (Google translate: “There is something about the chicken with your hand”) is filled with animal and nonsense poems and colorful illustrations. A real feast to work on!!
I also took a writing class for picture books and last year my first Children’s picture book was published: “Baas van iets groots” (Boss of something big). And in September my second Children’s picture book “Circus Luna” will be published:
And also “Von Anni Alligator bis Zeno Zebra,” a book full of animal characters from my 100 animal project will be published this Autumn by minedition (in German, probably later it will also be published in English).
I am currently working on two other children’s books written by other writers. Both will be published in Autumn 2020. One in the United States by Barefoot Books — it is an honour to be asked for these projects!
Making theater was fun, but illustrating books is the best I could ever wish for! Of course you can see the influences of theater in my work. I still love to create characters and play with them.
But now on paper and on my screen. 🙂
My website: https://redcheeksfactory.com/
On Instagram I share often works from my sketchbook: https://www.instagram.com/redcheeksfactory/
Tomorrow Nelleke will answer the question:
2.What kind of animal do you think you are, and what kind of animal are you actually?
Wow… that’s a surprise!
I love to take this course of course.. and I do!!
Her work is very inspirating, and the lessons are clear!!
How wonderful! The internet is an amazing place because we get exposed to such great artists. That’s how I discovered both of you and am so happy to see you working together ❤️
Nice story about your journey to become an illustrator, Nelleke your art is delightful and I am looking forward to the class! Carla and Steve thank you bringing Nelleke all the way to the U.S. to teach this class! Best place on the web to take an online class!