Geran Knol gets a little obsessive over elements in his work

Following the release of a highly intricate zine with publisher Nieves, the illustrator talks us through how he’s made such a delicate book with just a pencil and paper.

13 March 2020

When illustrator and artist Geran Knol embarks on a new area of work (sometimes it’s a style or maybe a subject), he has a tendency to get a little obsessed with it. For instance, a little while ago, Geran went through a phase of drawing men sitting on chairs which fans of his will certainly have noticed. But more recently, it’s certain colour palettes that are taking over his work – and his daily life.

“I like to use colour, and have certain periods where I use a specific palette,” he tells It’s Nice That. Currently, it’s a muted palette, made up of browns, dark blues and the occasional grey. And although it’s been a gradual infiltration, “I then use this colour palette in everything I make,” he continues. “I also tend to dress in the same colour palette that I use in my work, it’s kind of obsessive.”

This approach has filtered its way into Geran’s latest project, Met Stille Trom, a zine released by independent publisher Nieves. The zine references the Dutch saying “about leaving without anyone noticing which roughly translates as ‘with a silent drum’,” and sees the illustrator “trying to find ways to make a figure blend into its surroundings.” As a result, the aforementioned stick figure characters reappear, specifically drawn “facing rightward, locked in a composition of drum and guitar-like shapes, in a somewhat theatrical setting,” the illustrator describes, specifically noting the works of Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Tradische Ballett as inspiration.

With an overall approach that sees the illustrator attempting to find artistic ways “to make a figure blend into its surroundings, taking on a more stark and abstract shape,” the finished zine is about “composition rather than the actual figure portrayed.”

This is particularly noticeable in Geran’s use of negative space, filling any possible white area with delicate, intricate pencil line drawings. In some spreads of the zine, this line work is repetitive, with marks made extremely close to one another. In others, shading is used for a more dramatic effect. Despite only being 16 pages in total, Met Stille Trom demonstrates a vast usage of just a few tools through these techniques.

While these sketches began as a starting point to create further works on canvas, Geran has since taken them one step further “turning a drawing that mainly consists of lines into a new and bigger work that is mainly about shape and colours,” he tells us. Still working on the series at the moment, and taking his time with it, the aim is to exhibit the works – both drawings and paintings side by side – later this year.

Now with the first part of the project released, Geran hopes those who pick up a copy “will see the loneliness in the drawings and, at the same time, get the lighthearted tone underneath it,” he concludes. “I take it very seriously to not take myself too seriously.”

GalleryGeran Knol: Met Stille Trom

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Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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