Based in the Netherlands, Marieke lived in Mexico and Costa Rica when she was young, and her influences come from cultures all around the world. Ten years working in graphic design mean she knows how to deliver on a brief, and her clients always appreciate how she dives deep into each new project. She’s inspired by nature and creatives such as Edward Gorey, Lisbeth Zwerger, Shaun Tan, Tim Burton and Wes Anderson.
Marieke has a degree in Visual Communication, specialising in Illustration, from Art School, ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Natural media is key to Marieke’s individual style. By building up forms with layer upon layer of gouache she gives her images a sense of volume and physicality. Sometimes, she mixes in coloured pencils and ink for a looser style, or works spontaneously with a glass dipping pen for black and white linework.
Marieke’s art has all the charm and intricacy of traditional 19th century illustration, infused with drama, humour and narrative thanks to her unconventional compositions, use of light and shadow and small, whimsical details.
Question: What led you to become an illustrator? Marieke: For me, illustrating is a way to absorb and share the beauty of our world. Question: Did you study illustration at college? Marieke: I went to the art academy in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.Question: Where did you grow up? Marieke: My parents are both Dutch but I was born in Naucalpan de Juarez in Mexico and moved to Costa Rica and came to the Netherlands when I was four years old.Question: Do you have a childhood memory relating to drawing art that you hold dear? Marieke: I remember drawing with my eyes closed. I transformed the forms that emerged on the paper into fantasy creatures. I let my imagination run free.Question: Where do you live now and what drew you there? Marieke: I live in an old fortified city called 's-Hertogenbosch. It's neither a big nor a small city. Life is quiet there and yet it gives you an urban feeling. I love the old town with its typical Dutch facades. it is the perfect place between nature and culture.Question: Describe your studio for us. Marieke: My studio is a small but comfortable room in my house. Over the years I have perfected the space with cupboards, shelves and drawers for all my materials. Everything I need is within arms reach. In the corner where I illustrate, the light comes in perfectly and stretches across my drawing table throughout the entire afternoon.Question: Describe the view from your window. Marieke: I look outside upon our courtyard and see our two trees transform through every season. I also look upon our green roof. Against the neighbour's wall are hanging a few birds' houses and our large fig bush sticks out above the roof. I'm waiting for our wisteria tree to grow tall and stretch her branches towards the studio window.Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Marieke: There is nothing as whimsical and miraculous as nature.Question: How do you get your ideas? Marieke: I get my ideas when I'm doing something that doesn't need a lot of hard thinking. Like riding my bike, taking a walk or cooking dinner. The key is not to force yourself to think of an idea and then something suddenly pops up in your mind and starts to take shape.Question: Marieke: Do you collect anything?Question: I can't help collecting shells and stones during my vacations. I have every kind of shell that can be found along the coasts of Brittany! Crab shields, claws and sea urchins also belong to the collection. And of course I'm a collector of artbooks and children’s books. You can't have enough books! Marieke: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed.Question: I have illustrated The Wizard of Oz. I had a strong feeling that this was a story that suited my imagination very well. That feeling of being between reality and unreality. It was a difficult project to accomplish because many illustrators had already brought the story to life. I had to keep very closely to my own images and follow them. I have learned a lot from it! Marieke: What would be your dream job commission?Question: I would like to illustrate a folktale of every country in the world and turn it into a book. That would be a wonderful and worldly project! All the cultures in one book. As a form of recognition and togetherness. Marieke: Who is your design hero?Question: I have to name Wes Anderson although he’s not a designer but a filmmaker. Yet he’s very much a designer! Marieke: Who is your musical hero?Question: That must be Jack White! He’s experimental, true to himself and a very good musician. Marieke: If you were not an illustrator what would you be?Question: A plant biologist. Marieke: Would you still illustrate if you were stranded alone on a desert island?Question: Absolutely! It would be my best survival skill I think. Marieke: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?Question: Always stay true to yourself and finish what you started. Marieke: Do you have a method for dealing with the feeling of having no ideas?Question: I drop everything and start doing something completely different. Forcing myself to come up with ideas does not work. I will then browse through books, go for a walk or play a game with the children. When I don't think about having to get ideas, there comes room for ideas. Marieke: If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you go?Question: I would like to roam through Scotland. The rough nature and its rich history attracts me. Marieke: