• #FlorisDesign Illustrator Interview: Sandra Klaassen

    by  • 13 May 2015 • Children's Books, Design and Illustration, Floris Design • 0 Comments


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    This week #FlorisDesign is happy to share an exclusive interview with the talented Dutch author/illustrator, Sandra Klaassen. As an experienced illustrator who pours so much emotion into her work, we were thrilled to hear about Sandra’s inspirations and experience. 

    Hi Sandra, thanks for sharing with us about you and your work today. To start, we’d love to hear more about your own books, Peg the Little Sheepdog and Uan the Little Lamb, and what inspired you.

    These are real life stories! Peg was a real sheepdog and Uan was a real lamb who lived with me and my family, so it was not only my experience but certainly my children’s experiences and events with these animals that inspired me.
    peg and uan

    Pictured above: Uan the Little Lamb

    beach and dogPicture above: Peg and Sandra


    It’s so rare to see such heartfelt stories come from real life experiences; that’s wonderful. Could you tell us more about how much of what you draw comes from your imagination and personal research?

    Most of what I draw comes from my imagination; I think that’s an essential skill for any children’s book illustrator. However, sometimes you have to draw subjects that are not very familiar to you; some years ago I had to illustrate a lot of stories from different world cultures so it was necessary for me to do thorough research on clothing, food, architecture and landscapes seen in those cultures.


    We can see that your time spent on the Isle of North Uist has made that landscape very familiar to you; you’ve illustrated it so beautifully and accurately in Peg the Little Sheepdog and Uan the Little Lamb. Can you share with us your favourite illustrations from both of these books?

    I like the illustration where Peg ruined my son’s homework and where she nicked the food from the kitchen counter. She really didn’t understand how to live with a human family. But she was so very sweet as well, so it was very hard to get angry with her.


    Stealing food

    In Uan the Little Lamb, I like the illustration where Uan runs after the school bus. She really did one day!


    It definitely makes for a great story! Both of these books have very soft and gentle colour palletes. We were wondering how you decided on these palettes – could you explain your process?

    The stories are situated in a rural landscape so I used natural colours. When I have to express a certain atmosphere or emotion, I like to use warm, soft colours, like the illustration where Peg gets her bed in the hallway. I’m always very careful with colours and I like to add them to my watercolour illustrations one layer at a time.

    Bed in the hall sketchYour colours are brilliant but your pencil sketches are very evocative too. We have some great examples of your illustrations before and after colouring for everyone to see.



    It’s clear from your work that you have a real love for animals. Would you say that they are one of your favourite things to draw?

    Yes, animals as well as fairytales. I find them both so inspiring.


    Can you tell us about what made you want to become an illustrator?

    I always wanted to become an illustrator of children’s books (although, I wanted to become a ballerina as well). I loved reading stories and I liked to make my own illustrations of the characters. I also liked to draw comics and bind them into a book.


    That’s lovely to hear, though we are happy that you chose the illustrator career path over that of a ballerina! Is there any advice, looking back, that you would like to give to your younger illustrator-self?

    Keep looking: there is so much inspiration to draw from everything. Also, be careful not to lose humour in your illustrations.


    Sounds like a good tip for everyone who loves drawing and illustrating. Do have an environment you like to work in?

    I like to work in my studio and I really appreciate being able to look outside, so a view is also necessary.


    A good view makes a world of difference to a room, that’s for sure. Thanks, Sandra for that insight into Peg the Little Sheepdog and Uan the Little Lamb. It was wonderful to learn about your experiences and to see the real-life inspiration behind your stories. Thank you for taking time to talk with us!


    pegcover uancoverSandra Klaassen studied at the Royal Academy of Art & Design in the Dutch city ‘s Hertogenbosh. She has written and illustrated Uan and Little Lamb and Peg the Little Sheepdog. She has also illustrated other Floris titles such as The Cat Who Decided, My Cat Mac and Mac’s Christmas Star.


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