By Katy Cowan
For our latest Tours feature, we were invited to explore the home office of Wijtze Valkema, an illustrator who lives and works in Meppel – a small city in the northeast of the Netherlands.
After studying graphic design and enjoying four internships at design firms across the globe, Wijtze went straight into a freelance career, specialising in illustration and crafting a style that is mid-century inspired, upbeat and vector. He currently works mostly in the editorial field and has also been collaborating with agencies, publishers and brands on larger projects. We caught up with Wijtze to find out more about his workspace…
Can you describe your workspace?
“I have set up a studio right next to the living room of our family home in the centre of an old and small town in the north of the Netherlands called Meppel. The previous owners ran a traffic school in this room and besides taking down a kitchen and a wall, we didn’t do a whole lot to the studio when we moved in.
“The space is a 27 square metre zig-zag shape, offering two little nooks on either side of a larger rectangle. I have been moving furniture around a lot, always trying to make the weird corners work. A square area is definitely easier to decorate.
“My current setup is a large table for drawing, a stand-up desk for digital work, a couch in the one nook and a packaging/supply cabinet in the other. It has a large window with a view of the backyard where currently the wisteria is in bloom.”
What do you love about your workspace the most?
“My workspace offers both a feeling of being connected to the shopping street around the corner – which is great for feeling professional and productive, as well as being quiet enough to hear the birds in the backyard.
“Same goes for family life: I am close to my wife and kids during the day; we have lunch together, the kids come in for a hug after school, but on the other hand I can shut the door and be at work just like I would if this studio wasn’t in the house.”
Any favourite pieces of furniture, accessories or decorations? Can you tell us a story behind them?
“I am not a toy collector per se, but I do pick up the occasional vintage toys at the thrift store. I have a couple random objects that I like: an old coffee pot, a scale, a pipe, guitars, pillows, a coffee bag.
“One of my favourite things is sitting on my desk: a vintage tin toy tractor. It was a present from my mother-in-law who took me to a little antique shop in the attic of their neighbour. Wonderful place.
“I also like to swap posters and prints and was lucky to do so with LouLou and Tummie, Timo Meyer, Mike Davis, Bill Rebholz.
“Another inspiring studio feature is my wall of Dick Bruna paperbacks. Before inventing Miffy, Dick Bruna designed around 1,800 paperback covers for his dad’s publishing agency, some of which are up on my wall to boost my creativity.”
Describe your local creative scene
“Meppel is a small town and most dutch people wouldn’t think much of it. Once you get to know the town, it definitely has enough interesting features: small canals, cozy town squares, boutique shops, great thrift stores.
“Of course, our priorities as a family are different and we love the slower pace and space we have here as opposed to the bigger cities. What’s more interesting is that creatively, this place is starting to ‘get it’. Shops are focusing on one thing and doing it well rather than the bland warehouse type stores, and locally there are events organised with vision and passion.
“The creatives in town are still a bit isolated but I have good hopes that collaborating and realising ideas will only get easier in future. I hope to play a part in it as well!”
To discover more about Wijtze and see samples of his work, visit www.bamseontwerpt.nl or follow him on Twitter @wjitze.
All photographs by Eljee Bergwerff
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