Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.
This month I’m thrilled to be catching up with the very superstar Illustrator, Miriam Bos. I first discover her delightful artwork while classmates in the famed Lilla Rogers’ MATS e-course and later had the pleasure of seeing her work in person at Surtex. Miriam is a cheerful and energetic pattern designer and children’s book illustrator from the Netherlands. She loves creating warm, joyful artwork inspired by nature, and specializes in both traditional and digital techniques. You can view more of her artwork here!
Q: Your artwork is SO rich and beautiful, blending both traditional and digital techniques. Chat with us about how you achieve the balance, taking us through your process from inspiration thru final art.
A: Thanks very much for your compliment. Well, I had to think of this question a little bit. It's like asking me: how do you breathe? I don't know exactly, I work very intuitively.
I think I go on the spur of the moment. It depends on the idea I start with.
Most of the time I simply sit down with my sketchbook and start drawing elements of the artwork that I have in mind. It's brainstorming with visuals instead of words. I like to start with drawing things from the top of my head, but I often google for reference as well, to study a shape or look and then continue drawing things a bit differently.
For the first part of the process I like working with ink and draw simple lines. So I use my dip pens and fineliners a lot. But I also LOVE to work with gouache and brushpens, which I dilute with water to give them a watercolour effect. The process is organically. I let the art speak for itself and the ideas come while working on the piece. Sometimes I work on a composition and draw a whole scene, and the other time I simply work on icons that I will combine on the computer later.
After I am done with the paper phase I continue to my computer and scan it in. I build up the illustration, cutting out all the objects, so they are on their own layer. This enables me to move them around so I can improve the composition and mend little mistakes. Very often I like to add vector elements as well, to give the artwork a bit of a modern twist. I love combining the graphic elements and their somewhat fixed shapes with the more organic flowing lines of the watercolours and line art.
Of course I also work on artwork that's a 100% digital. A lot of the children's books I worked on lately are digital from scratch (with some hand painted texture added). I work a lot with my own made brushes in photoshop, which gives the illustration a more painted feel. A lot of my pattern designs are vector-only. Made in Adobe illustrator.
Q: Your artwork appears on a variety of fabulously amazing products spanning multiple markets, such as fabric, wall art, cards, children’s books and clothing and more! Give us the scoop on how you approach self-promotion to address such a wide variety of clients and potential clients.
A: It's exciting to be able to work in so many different markets. I really love them all, and I feel super fortunate to have this diversity available to me. It makes the job never boring while II’ve had the chance of working with some amazing people along the way.
I approach marketing in a few different ways.
One of them is sending out emails to companies I'd like to work with. Of course, there is a chance of not getting a reply. Art directors are very busy people and get lots of emails all the time. And it's possible you are not what they are looking for (at that moment). But it never hurts to try again after some time. Don't stalk them every week though ;)
I try to send out a newsletter every month. I am sending out two different newsletters. One is for my business contacts, whom I share my latest artwork with that is available for licensing, and the other one is for my other followers and contains updates of my latests projects. I am trying to send it as regularly as possible, which is sometimes hard to do when juggling different projects at the same time. The marketing aspect of this job can be quite time consuming.
Another option is sending out mailings to the companies that you really like to work with. I only send them out sporadically though because of my budget, and also because e-mails are faster and environmental friendly compared to all that printwork. But once a year I'd like to send a paper mailing to a select list of companies that contains a presentation of my work and an invitation to come and visit me at Surtex. Surtex is an art licensing trade show, which I will be attending for the third time in a row in 2016! And it will be my first time going solo, which feels like a huge step!
And last but not least there is my online presentation.
I write a blog post every time I have something new and fun to share. And I am active on different social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Instagram is my most favourite of them all because it's mainly focused on visuals, which I personally love. I try to draw and post something every day. Sometimes it's a sneak peek to some new art I am working on, or it is a drawing I made during lunch just for practice or as a startup for a new piece of artwork. It gives people a bit of a 'behind the scenes' feel and they see a bit of my work in progress.
|Delicate and darling! How cute would this be in your kitchen?!|
Q: There’s a distinctly “modern vintage” essence to your artwork, especially your images for kids. They harken back to the Golden Books of Mary Blair and her peers! Dish with us about “modern vintage” and who/what/where inspires it in your work.
A: I am not usually aware that my work has a modern vintage essence, but I guess it does, haha. But I am not surprised, because I do have a big love for vintage illustrations. Even as a child I already had this love for vintage items and styling. Good thing for me is that it became so trending the last couple of years.
I own a few books with old-fashioned illustrations, and in my house you will find that it's a mix of modern and vintage decorations. For instance, I collect vintage tins with beautiful illustrations on them with lots of curlicues and flowers and birds—a theme that you see returning in my work as well.
Though I also really love modern designs that are more bold and bright. It just feels natural to combine them.
Q: Dish with us about your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.
A: Hmm that's hard because I've worked on so many fun ones. But if I have to choose I would pick the following projects:
Last year I worked on my very first fabric collection with the super kind people of Birch Fabrics. The collection is called Wildland and will be available in December 2015 with Fabricworm.com. It's already a year ago that I created the artwork, can you believe it? It seems like I just made it yesterday. That’s because the manufacturing and distribution, etc. take so much time. Birch fabrics has been promoting it the last few weeks and last week I received a big box with fabric samples. It's like opening a treasure chest! Working on the collection was a bit of an adventure for me. I enjoyed working with the team and focusing on fine-tuning the collection.
The most recent project I love(d) working on is actually not quite finished yet, so I am sharing a scoop. We still have to dot some i's and cross some t's, but it's almost done. Together with French publisher 'Auzou Publishing' I am working on a fun playing card game for kids featuring cats and dogs. I guess it's unnecessary to say I am having a blast creating all these funny characters. I can't wait to see the end result and share it with you all. This week they shared the design for the cover with me and it looks so great. These are the moments I just love my job.
|Wildlands are delightful!|
Q: What do you know now that when you first began your design & illustration career you wish you’d known about: art licensing? business? self-promotion?
A: Actually, all of the above plus time management and administration/finances.
We didn't get much guidance when I went to Art School (about 10 years ago). The focus was on illustrating mostly, but I wished we would've been more prepared for the actual business side of our job outside school. We didn’t get any of that.
Being an artist means you have to wear lots of different hats at the same time.
Only a few years ago I first learned about art licensing and was immediately hooked.
All this stuff; licensing, business aspects, contracts, self-promoting, time management etc, is in a way self taught, simply by my own experience (making mistakes and learning from them), and with the help of a few e-courses that I took during the last few years.
During your career you will find out that there will always be new things to learn. But I guess that's simply part of this job, and I personally love learning and discovering new things.
A: Waking up with my husband without any rush. Then we have breakfast together, prepare some sandwiches for lunch, fill a big bottle with water, and go on a bicycle trip together. We live in the middle of the 'Hoge Veluwe' which is a huge Dutch national park consisting of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodlands. It doesn't really matter what direction we go, it always ends up somewhere pretty, which is something that I love.
And when we get back from these trips we cook dinner together, and watch some movie or TV series on the couch with our cats close by. I often have a sketchbook on my lap while my husband is softly playing his guitar. These Sundays don't happen as often as I like, but when they do they are precious to the both of us.