Lea Vervoort

Lea Vervoort

Represented by Good Illustration
Lea Vervoort Interview

Lea Vervoort

Children's Illustrator

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

Currently I live in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. I really enjoy living here as many of my art school friends also moved to the city. Rotterdam is totally different from our capital Amsterdam (famous for its 17th century canal ring). This is because several areas of Rotterdam, including its medieval city centre, got bombed during the second world war. After reconstruction it became the only city in the Netherlands with a real skyline. It has a very urban feel to it and there are lots of things to do and discover. 

The place where I grew up is 2 hours away by train (pretty long for Dutch standards). Tienray is probably the second smallest town in the Netherlands. It’s located in the countryside surrounded by agriculture fields. When I was a teenager it wasn’t my favourite place (way too silent) but as a kid it was great since I got to play outside surrounded by nature all the time. I still go there from time to time to visit my parents.

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Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

My sister. She’s such a creative person and was interested in art from a young age. One time I went with her to an open day of an art school and I got super excited. I was already into photography and drawing myself, originally out of boredom, but from that day on I was sure: I wanted to go to art school.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

Yes, I followed my dream and studied illustration at the St.Joost Academy of Arts in Breda, from 2008-2012.

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Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.

Yes, I do. They are still family but from a different age. I have a slightly different style when I work for adults than when I do for kids. For kids the options in illustration are endless. But when you draw for a more mature audience, illustration quickly get labelled as childish somehow. This doesn’t mean it has to be boring, but I think every audience needs a different approach. 
For kids I mostly use animal characters. I love to draw animals because they are imaginative and neutral (gender or race is less present). But animals characters have a picture book vibe to them as well. So when I work for an adult audience my characters are human. Next to characters I adjust shapes, the amount of detail and my colour palette a little bit as well.

What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” It’s quote by Roald Dahl from his book the Minpins. I really like it since it encourages kids to explore, be brave and go on adventures. I hope to have the same effect with my drawings.

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Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.

I work in a shared studio in an old office building. It’s great to work away from home and share it with 4 other girls. They are all self employed in different creative industries. There’s a VJ, documentary researcher, documentary producer, a graphic designer and me. At sleepy moments we get our creative juices flowing with energetic dances on loud music and fighting our punching bag with pink gloves. Or we just drink some coffee.

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Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?

Imagination, play, detail & colour.

Outline your dream project.

Working on a festival identity (preferably for an intimate festival located in the forest, but anything will do really). You can do so much with illustration and a project like this would be a perfect example of that. Posters, signs, an animated trailer or visuals on stage. I could bundle my powers with other creatives like graphic designers, animators or a VJ. It would be a true party for me to work on something like this.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

A teacher from illustration class wasn’t impressed when I showed her something new that I made. “It’s very ordinary” she said. I was shocked because I was really proud of what I made. The colours looked really nice and the style was exactly what I was going for. “Anyone can draw a cute animal. But drawing one that grabs people’s attention is another story. Make sure it stands out. Always add something that makes it extraordinary and imaginative”. It wasn’t nice to hear but I understood what she meant. Now I always double check my sketch before I start colouring. And I ask myself: “What makes this illustration special?”. Adding one little unsuspected detail can already make such a big difference.

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When you are not drawing, how do you like to relax?

Believe it or not, I really like to go on an occasional adventure myself. Last July I came back from a three month road trip through southern Africa, that was such a special experience. Apart from travelling I really like to go to the sea and perfect my surfing skills. When I’m lazy (it happens to everyone) I like to watch a movie in my favourite cinema or try out a new recipe at home.

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