Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into design and illustration?
My background is in newspaper and magazine design. I studied editorial design and rolled straight into my dream job at a national newspaper in Holland. I loved working on all the supplements and being part of a team of very talented and intelligent people. But I was still very young and had worked at another newspaper whilst getting my degree and so at 26 I resigned and went travelling. I met my other half in New Zealand and that's how I ended up in the UK eventually. First I worked for a year on a new women's magazine, which was great fun and taught me so much. After moving I started to do freelance work but always had a feeling that I should do something a bit different. It wasn't until I had my kids that I started to be more creative. It was a very natural process. My son loved drawing from an early age and so I would sit at the table with him and draw as well. I also started to make things like toys out of cardboard and came up with the idea to give them a handmade present each christmas. The first one I made was an alphabet book with collaged illustrations (pictured below). I loved making it so much that I decided I wanted to be an illustrator, even though I knew I had a long way to go.
It's great how your kids have ended up inspiring your career move into more illustration work. How would you describe your style and do you think your background in editorial design has influenced your illustration work in anyway?
People always say my work is cute, and I guess it is but I would describe it as bright and clean. It's about celebrating the sweetness of everyday life. I always go through the same process of making something, then adding a lot of elements and colours to it, and then stripping it down again. I think my editorial work influenced me in some ways, if I look back at my old portfolio I can see a lot of the same colours, clean lines and elements that I still use a lot now. I had to battle some demons as I moved into this direction because I used to work with a lot of very talented illustrators and I had to realise that my work fits in a completely different corner.
One of your corners is a successful shop on Not on the High Street. Can you tell us about some of your best sellers?
I have a few things that sell well in my Not On The High Street shop. All my family trees are quite popular with The Tiny Happy Family Tree being the bestseller. There was a Christmas Fayre on my son's school a couple of years ago and I thought it would be nice to have a little stall with prints and other little things. I thought of the personalised family tree the night before and figured that it would make a nice Christmas present, so I stayed up late to design what was later going to be the Tiny Happy Tree. It sold really well and has done ever since.
I also sell little birth prints that are personalised with a name and date of birth and that make a lovely present for a newborn. The whole idea behind my print collection is that you can personalise them. When my first child was born, I used to love (and still do) seeing his name written down, or all our names together. I made a Tiny Happy Family Tree with our names on years ago, and it still makes me smile.
I also sell a little collection of cross stitch kits, with a very popular iPhone 4 cover that you can cross stitch with my designs. The cross stitch kits, started of as illustrations with digital cross stitches. Then I figured that it would be nice to sell them as prints but add little kits so you can make them yourself in a real cross stitch.
In the same way I have been working on knitted surface patterns and I love the idea that you could have a duvet cover with a fake knit (hopefully I can make this dream come true one day soon...)
Gorgeous work! One last question... What are your hopes and plans for the near future?
I would love for 'Onneke' to grow into more of a brand. I am planning on adding some more products to the shop in the next months (like teatowels, tote bags and cards) And I would love to spend more time working on surface pattern collections and licensing them out. But I am feeling pretty blessed with the way things are going now. I am doing what I really love doing, it's bringing in some money but I am also still in the school playground every day at 3 to pick up my babies and spend the afternoon with them.
Thanks Onneke for a great insight into your amazing designs...
Don't forget to share your influences and what inspires your work below!