Growing up in Courtrai, an old market town in West Flanders, Steven showed prodigious talent as a child, creating his first illustrated story about a knight at the age of six. Now based in Gent, he’s successful illustrator with a string of top-name clients. Even so, he still attends life drawing every week with his friends.
Steven has a Masters in Graphic Design and Illustration from the Sint-Lucas School of Arts in Gent. He has collected over 10,000 comic books.
When illustrating a book, Steven will read the story and let it settle for a week while he plays with the ideas and sketches concepts. Paintings begin with him blocking out the composition in opposing shades – a dark purple versus a paler green, for instance. Using pencils, ink and acrylics, he paints in layers to create depth and texture.
Strong contrast in form and colour, plenty of detail and a variety of brushstrokes are characteristics of his work, and Steven’s characters always have an oddball charm to them.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Steven: As soon as I could hold a pencil I started drawing on every surface I was able to. All my studybooks, walls of my parental home and tables. Nothing was safe from my pencils. So it was obvious very quickly that I would do something with drawing. I never wanted something else.Question: Do you have any formal design training? Steven: I studied Graphic design and illustration at the Sint-Lucas school of art (Ghent) where I earned my Master degree. Question: Where are you originally from? Steven: I was born in Kortrijk (Courtrai in English), an industrial town in Belgium, famous for the battle of the golden spurs in 1302. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Steven: For now I live in Ghent (Belgium). I came here for studying at art school when I was 18 and never went back to my home town. Ghent is a living city with many advantages for creatives. It has a rich cultural scene and there is always something going on in the many pubs and theatres.Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Steven: My studio is a small workers’ house which I have completely restored, I just finished it a few months ago and am very happy with it- it's my safe haven, my sanctuary. I designed and made all the furniture myself. Each level of the house has his own atmosphere, white rooms for drawing and painting, colourful rooms for relaxation and reading.Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Steven: My biggest inspiration is the people I meet on the street. The neighbourhood where my studio is located is full of strange and interesting people. I just have to catch them in my head and draw them when I come back. Daily life is an inexhaustible source of inspiration.Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Steven: Motorcycles. I love to take a ride, it keeps me relaxed. And hiking in nature, I like the loneliness in deserted areas. I always come back with lots of energy.Question: Tell us about a favourite project you've recently completed. Steven: Illustrations for an educational visitors centre. The illustrations filled complete walls, stairs and windows. It took me several months but the results look really impressive.Question: Who are your art heroes? Steven: Jheronimus Bosch, a dutch painter from the 15th century, because he had a completely insane imagination. And Francis Bacon, he was a great painter, who was able to show the human psyche in grotesque portraits.Question: Who are your musical heroes? Steven: Clanadonia, Guns 'n' Roses, Pogues, Levellers, Metallica. Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Steven: That is a difficult one. Maybe a furniture designer or a landscape designer.Question: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into illustration? Steven: Do it! And keep your eyes open, the most important thing about illustration is to have a good look at the world. See the strange things in life, the unexpected. Get out of your safe area!