For a couple of years I’ve been collecting children’s books. I’ve always liked them, but didn’t start collecting them until I first went to college. I’ve met Eva there, and she already had a big collection of children’s books. The reason I never really bought any was because I thought it was a bit silly to buy books that were meant to be for children. But Eva made me change that perspective, mainly because I realized how much those books can inspire me and how much I can learn from them. Because you can always learn the theory of things, but it’s even more important to see the real deal.
That’s why I’m starting these series, to share my biggest illustration-heroes and other illustrators who inspire me.
The reason why I’m starting with Carll Cneut (°1969 – Belgium) is because he is someone I underestimated a bit. I’ve had books from him, heard of him and yet never really appreciated his work the way it’s supposed to be. Did I thought he made beautiful things? Sure, but I never truly looked at them. All that changed last april, when he was hosting an exhibition in Ghent about his youth and work. A bit before that I had bought his most recent book, De Gouden Kooi (The Golden Cage) and I was blown away. The way he illustrated the birds, the colors he used, the general feel from the book. I felt like I discovered a whole new artist, which was silly, because I’ve known him for a while (I think it was again Eva who introduced him to me). So you can imagine I was very excited to see the exhibition, and it did not disappoint.
At the end of the exhibition you came to a temporary studio and if you were lucky, Carll was sitting there working on things and talking with people who visited the exhibition. And we were lucky, because he was there on the day we visited. He signed and drew something in my copy of De Gouden Kooi and I couldn’t be more happy.
His way of painting is a bit different. Most people start on a white background, but he mostly starts on a brown background and works his way up from there. The result is that the illustrations feel very warm. He draws and paints a lot of birds, but he can do so much more. I’m sure he will continue to make amazing things.