The self-confessed illustration nerd dreaming of earth’s most mysterious places.
Meet the illustrator inviting you to lose yourself in his world; a world where old art lives under a rug and new ideas include a futuristic encyclopedia of alternative environments.
Tell us about yourself and how you started in the field.
Hi CP! I’m Tsjisse. I grew up in a small village in a rural area in the north of The Netherlands. I have been drawing since I could walk so when I found out drawing was something I could do for my studies I set my mind on going to art school. In the first year I met a group of 8 friends who shared likeminded inspirations and opinions about what illustration could be. During these years I had the chance to study abroad and to backpack during the holidays whenever I could. This turned out to be a big source of inspiration. Once me and my friends graduated we got a studio together. We set up an illustration collective called ‘Knetterijs’ where we work on our own projects as well as collective endeavors.
What is your educational background?
I studied illustration at Minerva Art Academy in Groningen, The Netherlands. I spent one exchange semester at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia (USA) and spent about 6 months in London where I did an internship with illustrators William Grill and Marina Muun. I graduated last summer.
Tell us about your style of work?
I like to collect familiar shapes and subjects in my sketchbook and combine them with experimental abstracted forms. I try to find the right balance between these familiar and unfamiliar forms to help tell me a story. I like to use abstract shapes to tell stories that the viewer can then unravel and learn to understand as they look at it.
As well as looking for a balance between abstract and familiar forms I am also always trying to find the right balance between the digital and the handmade in my illustrations.
What’s the technical process of your work?
I describe the process of my work as ‘fake screen printing’. I draw, ink and paint most of the shapes and lines by hand in different layers. Then I scan them and collage them together digitally.
What’s the weirdest client feedback that you’ve received so far, if you don’t mind sharing?
Luckily the art directors I have worked with so far have been very nice so awkward and weird feedback has yet to come!
What do you do when you run out of ideas and get stuck?
I ask my girlfriend, who’s also an illustrator, for help. Or I go for a walk. Usually both. When I’m working at my studio I ask my studio mates. Having other illustrators working in the same place can be really helpful and a lot of fun, making the day more social. If I didn’t have this studio I’d spend my day just working from home alone.
What do you hope people take away from your drawings?
This depends on the project. For my commissioned and editorial work I look for an unusual and interesting perspective in the text or brief.
In my personal work I like to invite people to my own world. What I put on paper is mostly how I see things and how they reform in my head. When people see my drawings I hope they can lose themselves in my world for a little while, exploring and figuring out its forms along the way.
What do you regard as your biggest success so far?
Being able to leave my part time job behind and provide for myself by doing what I love to do.
What are your other hobbies and passions?
Drawing again. And beautifully designed picture books. I’m an illustration nerd. But I also love travelling. I like to combine the two whenever I have the chance.
What would be your dream project?
Number one on my dream project list would be making a book about travelling and unfamiliar cultures. For my graduation project I made a book called ‘Wandering’ about living and adapting to new environments, based on my own experiences. I would love to make a second volume of this book, making it while I am travelling instead of making it once I get back home like I did with the first one. Second on the list would be an atlas filled with drawings of mysterious places on earth. Third on the list is a futuristic encyclopedia sketching alternative environments.
What do you think looking back at your own work from a few years ago?
Most of my old work is under a rug in my living room, so I walk over it tens of times a day. Whenever I take a look at it I’m glad to see how much it has changed in a few years. It makes me wonder how it will look 5 years from now.
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned during your career as an artist and Illustrator?
How to be confident through my work.
What is the most important piece of advice you have received as an artist?
William Grill gave me the advice to always draw from your sketchbook.
I always take my sketchbook with me so I can draw the different environments I come across. Then I can use the shapes and ideas I collect as inspiration for other projects whenever I need.
What would be the one piece of advice you would like to give to someone considering illustration as his or her career?
Go see the world!
Your message for us at CP magazine:
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your magazine.