I'm Lois van Baarle and I am a digital artist/animator who works freelance and lives in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Trichrome Blue from Lois van Baarle on Vimeo.
When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
There was, actually. I'd been drawing my whole life but always had the idea that I couldn't actually pursue that as a career because I would never be able to support myself (that old myth about starving artists). I actually had a preference for social anthropology or something history-related throughout high school. However, the more intensive my high school courses became, the stronger my urge became to draw - it was an almost instinctive urge that I had a hard time suppressing. I realized that if I didn't choose something related to creating art, I would be struggling with that urge for the rest of my life, having to divide my time between my hobby and academic work. So I did some research on which areas of commercial art would work best for me and was advised by my art teacher to study animation, which I did.
Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
I look up to artists who do a mixture of commercial and personal work, and are always developing their own unique style and visual language. These are artists who show that you can develop and grow as an artist as well as apply your skills professionally to a variety of projects. These artists remind me that my 'dream job' - doing interesting projects but also creating art for personal growth and enjoyment - is possible. One artist that fits this example beautifully is Claire Wendling, as well as Jana Schirmer and also artists I've had the pleasure to meet personally like the cartoonist Wouter Tulp.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
As far as making digital art goes, I am self-taught. My parents had a very old version of Photoshop and I taught myself to start drawing digitally with a mouse when I was 14. By the time I went to art college, my 'style' was already quite developed. As far as animation goes, I learned everything I know in college.
How do you keep it "fresh"?
I don't employ any techniques for this on a conscious level. However, I think it's important for artists to keep developing their own taste and viewpoints on a personal level - to learn new things, take in new ideas, and observe changes in the world. For me, staying in touch with this has helped me come up with new ideas and approaches for my drawings.
self portrait process from Lois van Baarle on Vimeo.
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working with Lego on a really interesting project that I can say nothing about; next to that I'm developing concepts for two animated shorts and trying to stay productive with my illustrations and sketches.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
This one's hard to answer because the projects I am most proud of, I can reveal nothing about. They are two projects that have not yet been released and until that time, are very confidential. One is for Guerrilla Games and the other is the Lego project. We'll have to catch up in a few years to talk about that! On a personal level, what I am most proud of is continuing to be able to create illustrations and share them with my followers. It's hard to balance freelance projects with personal work, and to have the self-discipline and commitment to be your own boss. I'm very proud that this has worked out so far.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
There are a lot. I have stayed in my comfort zone for most of my career and there is a lot to try still. Especially working with non-digital media, something that's been on my to-do list for a long time.
Any advice to the novice illustrator?
Share your work with the world and use the internet to build a base of followers and generate exposure. For me, it has been the ultimate tool into being able to turn my hobby into my career.
What makes an illustration successful?
When it has life and visual power, and when the intent of the artist reaches the viewer in an impactful way.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
For me, being unmotivated and being burned out are two ends of a spectrum. I'm very lucky and can find a lot of motivation from the feedback of my online following. There are a lot of people who enjoy my work and literally ask me to keep making things; knowing that there are people out there who want to see more of what I can do keeps me going. I avoid burn-out by refusing to be too hard on myself. I always take weekends off and I refuse to act on self-destructive thinking patterns like "I'm not doing enough, I should be better by now, I am not as good as other artists." The stress that these thoughts can cause is poisonous. I also struggled with an arm injury twice in my freelance career and have learned the hard way that avoiding stress and taking it easy is essential in the long term.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."
Social anthropologist :)
And finally, what is the best thing on TV right now?
I can't say that anything that is on TV right now really moves me the way some older shows do. I simply can't enjoy television shows in the same way since watching all 5 seasons of The Wire. It just doesn't get better than The Wire :(
Copyright © All text and images are copyright their respective owners