Somewhere between the real world and our daydreams lies Bas Waijers’ Bedoodled series. The Brooklyn-based graphic designer, originally from the Netherlands, enhances his city photography with adorable little characters doodled in blue ink. From Clifford sized pets napping over an abandoned building, to monster bees buzzing above the trash cans, to shy guys hiding in the vents and rusted corners, Waijers brings ordinary photos into a fun, fantasy land. With his sketchbook in hand, as he goes about his life in NYC, Waijers imagines more lively versions of the reality before him and shares his fun, creative visions by sketching them out and inserting them into the original setting.
Aside from Bedoodling the Big Apple, working as a UX Designer, and being a dad, Bas Waijers has developed some incredible interactive children’s storybook apps for iPad. We had the pleasure of interviewing this man of many talents (see below) to find out what makes him tick; he also shares words of wisdom for aspiring illustrators. Enjoy the interview, then check out more of his work on baswaijers.com.
VN: What is your art background? When did you start drawing? Did you go to school for art?
BW: I started drawing as a young kid and never really stopped. When I saw Fantasia as a 10-year old I knew I wanted to tell stories. That movie changed my life. I then doodled throughout my teens and early professional life, after going to school for design and advertising.
2007 was a important year because I decided to seriously hone my drawing skills. I took life drawing classes and I made solid efforts to actually produce illustrations. Up until then I usually made final artwork in 3D, but I wanted to break away from it. And that push helped me a lot in achieving some of my ambitions as an artist.
VN: Do you bring a sketchbook with you everywhere you go?
BW: I always carry a sketchbook and Bic Atlantis pens with me. I usually sketch in the subway during my commute into the city and back home. I also love finding a random spot to sketch and work on ideas. I’ll use time in the evenings to add color digitally. In my daytime job I’m a UX Designer.
VN: Sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I love how you used your talents to commemorate the life you shared together. Did making your “About Life” app help you through the grieving process?
BW: I’m from the Netherlands and I moved to Manhattan in 2004. When my dad fell ill there was no way to visit him as much as I wanted to. I was about to become a dad myself and that made the situation only more difficult. My dad was on my mind all the time, and illustrating our life together was my only outlet, being so far away from him. It was a race against the clock but I managed to give the book to him two weeks before he passed away.
VN: How is digital illustration different from drawing on paper? Which do you prefer?
BW: I still draw on paper with pens. It’s ruthless, a mistake is a mistake. But after many years I’ve come to love those little mistakes as they make my drawings more lively and spontaneous. The movement of the train provides me with an extra challenge that I’ve learned to embrace. I just let the movement become part of the drawing.
I worked in Flash, drawing digitally on top of my pen skeches. I love it because it’s a fast technique, without too much refinement. Since I was never officially trained as a painter or classic artist I had to come up with a technique that works for me personally. And as long as I can evoke an emotion with my work then I feel that I succeeded. When I was a kid I wanted to make drawings that “make people happy” and that’s still a big part of my motivation.
VN: Who or what inspires you?
BW: I find inspiration anywhere. It can be a scene in a movie, music, my kids, a news related item or just a random street scene that reminds me of something. It also depends on the mood I’m in. The trick for me is to recognize that mood and to know where to look for inspiration. That way I don’t get stuck, waiting for inspiration.
VN: Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?
BW: Work on projects that are close to your heart. Recognize a good idea if you have one, don’t just dismiss them as silly or bad. If you like it, somebody else will like it to. The first ideas that come to you naturally are oftentimes the best. Find a technique that works for you and perfect it. Whatever it may be. Nowadays there are so many artists that are successful in any technique imaginable. Anything goes and is accessible. And with social media and the internet at your fingertips it’s just matter of finding the right audience.
VN: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
BW: I’m really excited about my new iPad app “Wonderful Colorful House” that was just released in the AppStore. It’s an interactive storybook for kids. I made it with a team of only 4 people over the last three years. We did it purely out of a mutual love for storytelling and because we wanted to be a part of this new exciting interactive industry. We made it entirely independent from the publishing industry and it shows how dreams can come true if you work hard enough on them! I will be publishing images, sketches and a trailer very soon.
Be sure to click on the red links to see the apps. Special thanks to Bas Waijers for the interview; we wish you the best of luck with your new app!