Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
I was born in Amsterdam but grew up in Haarlem. I have raised in a very creative family with a lot of creative people around. Growing up, I was always making things. When we went on vacation, I always brought along scrapbooks, journals, and drawing books. We also had a weekly crafty / drawing afternoon with the kids from the neighborhood.
How did you get into illustration?
Already at an early age, I knew that I was going work in the creative field. When I finished high school, I studied illustration at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. During the third year, I did an exchange program at the School of Design in Copenhagen.
From the second year, I started doing little freelance jobs on the side. So after graduating, I had quite some things running and even a few semi-regular clients. I could start as a full-time freelancer right away! I’ve been working for magazines, fashion brands, restaurants, etc. since then.
How would you describe your artistic style?
My illustrations are playful, colorful and feminine. All of my illustrations include handmade elements and digital techniques. I think they have a very handmade feel because I use a lot of textures and elements painted in watercolors. I like non-digital (looking) illustration styles that are a little clumsy and charming. I don’t like perfect things in general.
The colors are very important in my work. I’m always looking for new and exciting color combinations. I love full illustrations with a lot of different objects and patterns.
We obviously see that your illustrations strongly have a feminine touch. It features heavily in your work. What inspires your illustrations of women?
Besides interiors and objects, I love fashion. I’m really into fashion photography. I like how I can add as many details to clothes as I want. I want the girls to look beautiful, strong and interesting. I would never draw a boring looking woman.
How does art/design/illustration change the way you view the world?
Because I’m an illustrator I’m always looking out for interesting subjects to draw or inspiration. I think this makes me view the world a little bit different from others. I’m very aware of my surroundings wherever I go. I’m always paying attention to beautiful things that I can see everywhere: a funny raincoat, a beautiful tiled porch, cool typography, etc.
Could you take us through your creative process?
Before I start sketching, I always collect inspirational images. Most of the time I already have some images in mind that I’ve seen before: a beautiful interior from Pinterest or animal drawings in an old science book. I have a lot of books in my studio. After feeling a bit more inspired, I start sketching with pencil. My sketches are always very rough and don’t look like the final artwork at all. It’s more of a general idea of the composition and objects that I’m going to illustrate. When I’m working on the final illustration, I just keep on working for hours without a break. I just forget everything around me. That’s also why I work pretty fast; I don’t get distracted easily.
Can the creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
This is a hard one! I guess it’s really hard for me to know since I consider myself being creative since I was born and also being surrounded by creative people and art during my whole life. Actually, I think everybody is creative in a way, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they create art or things that are considered art. I think creativity is not a ‘feeling’ but a way of thinking… For example, my boyfriend is a game designer and programmer. I think he’s really creative. But it’s not as ‘traditional’ as my way of being creative. Being creative with code is very different from being creative with paint.
Is there any time that your creativity is blocked? How do you deal with it?
Well, I used to have this feeling a lot when I started as an illustrator. But now being an illustrator is also just a job. It’s not about going to my studio and ‘waiting’ for inspiration to come. It’s about just starting a new job and finishing it in time. This does mean that there’s somehow also just a way of working or illustrating that works for me. It’s not as free as making a collage for fun. When I’m working on personal projects, I feel a creative block sometimes. I don’t really deal with it; I just do something else. I can’t be creative all the time!
Are there any dream projects that you want to work on in the future?
Yes, I’m always dreaming about the future! I would love to do a homeware collection with a big homeware brand or a print collection for a fashion brand.
Who or what inspires your work?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different things. I think I’m obsessed with objects. I get inspired by flea markets. I love postcard collections, exotic curiosities, antique tableware, freaky dolls, kitsch vases, rusty tools, vintage perfume bottles and so on. I just love things. I also get very inspired by beautiful packaging. Also, I like to visit botanical gardens (all around the world) to do sketchbook drawings.
At the moment I feel very inspired by different cultures: Mexican ornaments, Japanese portraits of women from the 1930’s and Persian miniature art. As you can see also interiors are one of my biggest inspirations.
Famous artists like Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Frida Kahlo, Henri Rousseau, Saul Steinberg have always had a huge influence on my work. But also Wes Anderson movies and scientific illustrations from Ernst Haeckel and Maria Sybilla Merian. I think you can easily find those influences back in my work.
You also have an online shop where you sell prints, postcards, and ceramics. When and why did you decide to start this?
At some point, people started emailing, wanting to buy prints or ceramics. So I decided to open up shop. I just really enjoy the idea of other people framing a print of mine and putting it up the wall. Or sending one of my postcards to a friend. I personally really enjoy buying art from an indie brand, so the idea of others also enjoying buying a unique piece makes me very, very happy.
Last but not least, what is a day in the life of Bodil Jane like? Tell us about your daily routine.
I work about every day, but I don’t have very long working days. As I said, I can’t be creative all the time. I need to have time to do non-creative things. I prefer a shorter and more productive 6-hour working day over a 10-hour working day and getting distracted all the time. My mornings are pretty slow. I like to have a slow breakfast and watching the news. Biking to my studio and first thing answering e-mails and packing webshop orders. During the day I normally work on about 2-3 different projects. For example making sketches for one project, working on a final piece for another project and doing research for another one. After work, I bike to the post office with webshop orders. During the week I like slow evenings with cooking, yoga, and Netflix!