Starting out with the Famous Artists Course

A few days ago I obtained a very old copy of the Famous Artists Course, a course on drawing and design, specifically for commercial purposes. It dates back to the 60s, but the lessons, tips and techniques are still applicable. The tone is friendly and instructive and the texts emphasize the importance of hard work and daily practice without being patronizing. As a bonus, most illustrations in the book could come out of an episode of Mad Men — only these illustration are actually the real deal! I love vintage art.


It’s quite refreshing for me to read something different than Adobe Photoshop tutorials. I’ve been designing and drawing for the past 4 years, using digital means. Using software is definitely helpful in designing and drawing, but when I’m using ctl+z on a computer I always feels a bit of a cheat, as if it’s a way of covering up the fact that I’m not good enough with traditional media to draw something the old-fashioned way.

Since I got a job last year September (and as a result thereof: a budget) I’ve been buying all kinds of art supplies so I could explore some more media and techniques of traditional art. I churned out sketch after sketch, never finishing something, because when push came to shove I couldn’t get my ideas down on paper in detail. This was of course very frustrating and after a while I quit drawing altogether.

When reading the introduction and table of contents to the course, it came to mind that maybe the foundations of drawing and designing were not quite clear to me yet. I liked drawing and I could design prints without too much trouble, but SOMETHING was missing. It’s my dream to become a skilled illustrator. At the moment I’m a pay-me-and-I’ll-come-up-with-something-designer. Being a designer is nice, but I want to be able to draw my own art (instead of outsourcing it like an art director) and make complex illustrations. I want to be able to easily transfer a picture from my head to the art board.

At the moment it’s summer vacation, which means I have about 2-4 weeks of free time left before my graduate courses begin. I’m planning on completing a few lessons from the course before September. It’s hard to say how much time all the 24 lessons will cost: the authors recommend spending ‘a reasonable time’ on each exercise, which says next to nothing.

If you’re reading this, bear with me during the course. I don’t know anyone who is serious about learning about art, and sometimes I feel a little crazy. I didn’t go to art school because in the Netherlands we have only two kinds: the good and expensive or the bad and cheap ones. When I was finished with high school I didn’t want to go to either kind. Besides, I feel that the studies that I did choose had a unique and positive effect on my life, and I wouldn’t be the person I am now without going to Radboud University Nijmegen to study History, Philosophy and Computer Science. Now I’m teaching myself, and honestly, I think that’s just as good as a 12-thousand-a-year art school, provided that you have a bit of self-discipline, of course. After all: doesn’t drawing come down to lots and LOTS of practice?

It’s my dream to become an illustrator, and I’m willing to work hard to attain that dream.

New website

Hey guys! To celebrate the start of the summer, I just gave my website a huge make-over. Just having a portfolio with a few images without descriptions whatsoever was no longer enough. I have implemented everything with Jekyll, a static site generator that also works for blogs. It’s a cool alternative to blog-systems like WordPress or Blogger. Check it out if you’re into coding and such, it’s really cool and easy to learn.

screenshot of my old blog

screenshot of my new blog

New logo

New features:

  • Frontpage with latest portfolio-items (and soon also a news feed!)
  • Portfolio with items that have titles, tags, dates and descriptions
  • You can choose between illustrations and design work.
  • Process blog where I can post updates, links and small articles about design.

Be sure to sign up for the RSS-feed of my portfolio-website if you don’t want to miss any new portfolio pieces! You can of course also subscribe to this process blog (see the link below). I’ll keep you posted!