Meet Claudi Kessels
I happened to discover Dutch illustrator and designer Claudi Kessels on Instagram and thought her work is perfect to kick off our next drawing focus: Nature. Her charming illustrations combine natural materials with lovely lines to create curious characters. Her whimsical work makes me want to know more about the creatures she’s creating, and more about her — I was so happy that Claudi agreed to answer our 3 & 1/2 queries!
I love your series incorporating flowers with your drawings. How did this project come about?
For my clients and the magazines I work for, I try to send a card with the change of the season. Two years ago, beginning with Autumn/Fall (aiaiai), I wanted to make something cheerful because I really enjoy Autumn — I love the colors, and the shapes of nature too: an acorn, mushrooms, pineapples. I was looking at items I had gathered during a walk in the park here in Amsterdam, and I saw these acorns lying together. They looked like characters already. This led into a dancing couple for my Autumn card. An art director for Dutch magazine Flair liked it and asked me to illustrate their Christmas issue: incorporating wintry elements from nature in my drawings. I asked my niece, photographer Janneke Michels, to photograph some stills of things such as a pine twig, amaryllis, etc for me, and our collaboration began; my niece sends me piles of beautiful, digital photos of leaves, petals, flowers, and I can use them for the commissions I get from Flair magazine.
from the Christmas issue of Flair magazine
When I read about the 100 day project: a project initiated by the magazine The Great Discontent and Elle Luna, to post something everyday on Instagram I thought “Yes — this is a great way to show my series using Janneke’s photo’s.”
Which comes first? The concept for the drawing OR the natural materials?
Ha! Both. Sometimes the natural material asks for a certain drawing, like the hyacinth lady — she was obvious: elegant, maybe going to a ball or fancy party, self-conscious. But sometimes it just doesn’t work like I had in mind. When the object and the drawing aren’t the right match, I go back and search through Janneke’s photos and try to see if my drawing will work with another picture, so that nice things can happen. For instance, with this rooster — I had imagined some leaves for his tail, but it didn’t look right; then I tried adding a round leaf around his head, and it fit perfectly.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
Shapes from nature: leaves, flowers. People, gestures; how people look when they think nobody is watching. Words, sometimes colors or shapes. Old photos, newspaper photos. Riding through the city on my bike. My kids. Books. The photos my niece sends me 😉
I like to draw ___.
Yes I do. I even like to lace the shoe-string (tie the shoe lace). If I try to draw people bare-footed it gets difficult. I never know on what side the big toe is. Awkward feet walk in your screen or on the page!
All images courtesy of Claudi Kessels