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?