• Anton-van-hertbruggen-memoires_of_a_suburban_utopia

    Anton Van hertgruggen: Memoires of a Suburban Utopia (detail)

Illustration

Introducing...Anton Van Hertbruggen’s beautiful, spacious illustrations of star-gazing in surburbia

Posted by Anna Trench,

We’re over the moon to have discovered Anton Van Hertbruggen. Whether illustrating adventures with giraffes in tents or star gazing in suburbia, Anton uses space beautifully, has a delicate line and the loveliest palette of blues. At only 22 the illustrator from Antwerp’s style is impressively assured.

He says he’s always searching for a utopian world for himself in his work and is happiest when visualising how things could have been in a certain time or place. To find out more, we asked Anton about his work and working habits. You can see his illustrations and works-in-progress and read his thoughtful answers below. Let’s hope he keeps cycling round Antwerp exploring ideas and collecting stories for a very, very long time.

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-desk

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: Desk

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-het-honje-dat-nino-niet-had-1

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Het Honje Dat Nino Niet Had

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-work-in-progress

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: Work in Progress

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-work-in--progress-2

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: Work in Progress

Where do you work?

I still live with my parents, not far from Antwerp, so for the moment I work in my bedroom and in the attic, where I have a big comfortable space to work. The digital part happens in one room and everything else in the other. So I switch between these places and don’t have to sit on the same chair all day, which is good.

How does your working day start?

I always try to start as early as possible, which off course doesn’t always go exactly as planned. First I make myself some tea or coffee and put on some music. As long as I’m working there’s music playing – that’s a good thing about the job if you like listening to music… Then I look back at the work I made the day before. If I’m happy, I can see it again, and mostly that means I’m ok with it and I want to carry on immediately. But if I’m avoiding it, it means I don’t really like it.

Before I start working I tend to browse the library of pictures I’ve gathered on the internet because I’ve found them interesting for various reasons. This often takes longer than planned, but it often helps me to get in the right direction for some projects, give me new ideas or just gives me a boost to go and make something. The rest of the day I just keep on working as good as possible and try not to be distracted every five minutes. I’m not that good at sitting still for a long time…

How do you work and how has that changed?

As I haven’t been working that long it’s a bit difficult to answer this one, but I can already say that the time I spend on a piece is getting longer. Before I begin with a piece or project I spend a lot of time searching for documentation. For me that’s a very important part and I really like to do it. I’m not a big sketcher. I make only one or two bigger sketches for an illustration. Most of the time I have the full illustration in my head already when I start drawing. It changes a bit during the process, but the biggest part of it is there already. 

I work half digital/half manual. First I make a pencil drawing, which get’s scanned in afterwards. Then I put the same pencil drawing on a light box and trace most of the shapes, especially the organic ones like clouds, trees, smoke, water, shadows… Then I paint these with black paint, fill them with charcoal, pencil – everything that gives me the structure I’m looking for. All these shapes get scanned in, changed to the right colour and put underneath the pencil drawing.

As I’m trying to push my technique further I notice that it’s beginning to be really time consuming. The amount of layers is increasing and it’s becoming a bit too technical sometimes as I try to make more dynamic and lively pieces. Some of the newer works aren’t meant to be made digitally. I think I’m on the verge of starting to paint them. It seems like a more honest technique for the work – also because I want them to be bigger. So there’s a long road ahead and I like it. 

  • On-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia-3

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

  • On-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

  • Anton-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

  • On-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia-4

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

  • On-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia-explosions-in-tke-sky

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

Where would we find you when you’re not at work?

Riding my bike on my way to my girlfriend or friends is something you could definitely catch me doing as I try to do as much as possible by bike or by foot. Besides that, walks and bike trips are the best way to find inspiration for me. Most of my works are made that way. When I’m not working I like to be outside and surrounded by my girlfriend or friends. I don’t like to be alone. 
I don’t spend much time behind the television and if I do it’s mostly to watch BBC documentaries about animals and nature. 

Would you intern for yourself?

Haha I wouldn’t know actually. I guess I would do but I would be constantly telling myself that I have to stop wasting time and concentrate more. The fact that we both wouldn’t be alone all day would be awesome although sitting in a room with another me each day would become a bit too much talking and less working. I would constantly disturb my intern because I just can’t keep my mouth shut. 

  • On-van-hertgruggen-memoires-of-a-suburban-utopia2

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Memoires of a Suburban Utopia

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-slanted-magazine

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: for Slanted Magazine

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-het-honje-dat-nino-niet-had-2

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Het Honje Dat Nino Niet Had

  • Anton-van-hertbruggen-het-honje-dat-nino-niet-had-4

    Anton Van Hertbruggen: from Het Honje Dat Nino Niet Had

Portrait16

Posted by Anna Trench

Anna is a writer and illustrator who joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Cambridge University and Falmouth university. She wrote for the site between January and March 2013.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. Main9

    Co-founders of Dastoli Digital Robert and James were huge fans of Star Wars in the late 1990s, recreating hundreds of images from comics, books and game graphics on Microsoft Paintbrush using the Windows 3.1 operating system. In the run-up to the release of Star Wars Episode VII which will come out on 18 December 2015 they’re releasing an image a day from this seemingly bottomless archive, giving fellow fans a glimpse of their fantastic attention to detail and brilliantly retro colour palette.

  2. List

    We’d hate to say we told you so, but in the case of London-based illustrator Daniel Clarke, we definitely did. In January 2012 we crowned him our Student of the Month, and two years on he’s still going strong – actually he’s going even stronger. We were always drawn to Dan’s work for its stunning use of texture in the creation of atmospheric scenes; the smudge of ink on paper denoting a bitterly grim London day, or variations in pattern serving as an allegory for tower blocks.

  3. List

    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

  4. Main

    Let’s get this straight – no one uses colour pencils like Yann Kebbi. His rushing waves of familiar greens and reds depict street scenes filled with fumes, scowls, ageing pedestrians and whooshing movement – always with a dry happiness and a side order of mystery. Recently Yann’s wry depictions of human life have been featured in The New York Times and other prestigious rags, but some of his most interesting work lies in the personal sketches he whacks up on his blog for people like me to dribble at. The seemingly slapdash paintings of his family and the Hockney-esque sketches of the French countryside are exquisite, and proof that Yann has got so many more styles to try out yet before he perfects his repertoire.

  5. Main1

    Kristina Tzekova is an excellent testament to the belief that there’s no limit to what you can do with a packet of coloured pencils and a sheet of white paper. The illustrator recreates scenes from music videos and cult films in comic strip form, from Kanye West’s Bound 2 to Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, and the results are the perfect cross between lo-fi doodles in the margin of a maths exercise book and Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering photographic studies of motion. Simple though they may seem, her drawings are incredibly intricate, taking into account the continuity between each image just as scrupulously as they do the the details which easily have been missed, from the cheeky glint in an eye to the quirk of a top lip. Here’s hoping somebody picks up on Kristina’s work and makes them into a book sharpish!

  6. Img_1065

    Here at It’s Nice That we spend an awful lot of time talking about, thinking about and writing about creatives but ultimately we don’t get too many chances to really see what goes on in their day-to-day working lives…until now. Our new collaboration with super-cool eyewear brand Ace & Tate – who believe in great design and ultimate customer choice – is taking us inside the studios, and inside the minds, of a host of some of our favourite creatives.

  7. Main_14.40.48

    Three cheers to Portuguese illustrator Marta Monteiro for executing what I would have believed to be an entirely impossible feat; creating a series about tiny, lilliputian women living in a giant world without it being even the slightest bit cutesy. Her miniature characters are practically heroines; tying up villains with cotton from a giant reel, transporting a slice of pizza on their shoulders and playing tug of war with spaghetti, and all in the style which has won Marta commissions from some of the great champions of illustration out there, including the New York Times and NoBrow. This series has even been awarded a gold medal by the Society of Illustrators in the category of commissioned work, so if you don’t take our word for how brilliant it is, take theirs! here’s hoping for dreams of Borrowers for nights to come.

  8. Main

    They don’t come much sharper than Sara Andreasson, the Swedish illustrator who was on the site back in March but who has posted so much new work on her website that we see fit to feature her again already. The Swede has been hard at work, creating commissions for The Debrief, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone, toying with witty observations and reassuring block colour to demonstrate that she’s just as nimble whipping up images to suit a brief as she is with personal work. Her experiments with rasterisation and contrasting patterns are especially intriguing, hinting at a whole new technique which is ripe for exploration (and more of which can be seen of on her Tumblr.)

  9. List_2

    Julianna Brion is an editorial illustrator whose diverse portfolio houses projects for a bunch of fortunate clients. Like most creatives who make commissioned work though, when she’s not drawing to a brief she’s filling sketchbook after sketchbook with scrapbook-like doodles which are as beautiful, if not more so, than her finished images. Reclining figures, pastel dogs, picture-perfect houses and foliage all feature, rendered in a rainbow of acrylic paints and sketchy pencil. For me, looking at the sketchbook of a successful illustrator is kind of like peeping into the messy bedroom of an impossibly well-coiffed, super dapper gent. And who doesn’t like to be nosy?

  10. List_3

    Trust Helsinki-based illustration agency Agent Pekka to sign up some of the best illustration we’ve seen in a long while without so much as a cough to show it off! They’ve just added French illustrator Jean-Michel Tixier to their books, and he looks set to be an amazing addition.

  11. List_2

    When it comes to brightly-coloured multimedia creations Mike Perry is king, and as far as we’re concerned there’s little chance of anybody threatening to knock him off his throne any time soon. As if to strengthen his case, he’s just made My Mother Caught Me Doodling, a 160 page hardback celebration of the female form, which sees Mike create tribute after tribute to ladies. Naked ladies.

  12. Main

    Considering it had been a while since I had had a proper delve through this great guy’s portfolio, revisiting his site was a refreshing reminder of just how talented Gwendal Le Bec really is. Sometimes people can be frowned upon for aping or mimicking a style from someone else but in Gwendal’s case it’s different as he successfully takes elements from all the most infamous illustrators of times gone by and adds them to his own style.

  13. List

    We’ve been harping on about what a terrific illustrator, and all-round cheery chap Ryan Gillett is for quite some time now, and it seems people have been taking notice. Ryan now counts the likes of Virgin, The Sunday Times, Anorak and Smith Journal among his many clients, who keep him busy at all hours on commissioned projects. It’s not hard to see why either; Ryan’s cheerful scenes made with the sensibilities of a traditional print-maker ought to excite even the most severe clients. But he still finds time to do the nice things that remind us what a stand-up guy he is; like producing screen printed postcards to send out to all his fans (including us). When they arrived the other week they brightened up our days, and also made us realise it was about time to praise Ryan once again…