Lennard Kok’s new book turns his digital work into something tangible and timeless
About Time compiles work from the illustrator’s career so far, from large-scale commissions to drawings following momentous moments in his personal life.
- Olivia Hingley
- 6 February 2024
When you get to a certain point in your career, it can feel like you’re just pumping out project after project. Which is good, in some ways, but it can also leave you with little time to reflect, to take a moment to really appreciate the work you’ve done. So when the illustrator Lennard Kok had the chance to compile his various projects into a publication, he jumped at the opportunity. Especially as so many works he delivers digitally and he often never even sees them on paper: “for me, a book has something timeless,” says Lennard. “It exists, which is something I experience less when I look at my work digitally.”
Lennard worked in collaboration with the Utrecht-based creative studio HouseTMM, who contacted him personally to propose the project, and from the beginning the foundation of the book was set – a traditional format, showcasing key drawings, projects and objects over Lennard’s career so far. The process of creation was slow but purposeful, allowing the publication to evolve naturally; at some meetings only the colour of the cover was discussed, while at others the whole order of projects would be rearranged. Providing Lennard with such time to see his work in a different light, at points projects would be included to only be taken out a few weeks later. “Slowly we worked toward a book that gave a clear sense and vision of my work,” he says. “It felt like a project without time pressure, something I really enjoyed.”
The projects throughout the book range from small-scale and quick to momentous, both in terms of Lennard’s career and personal life. In 2021 Leannard designed a 60 x 7 metre curtain for the University of Amsterdam highlighting themes from each of its departments including psychology, social sciences, communication sciences and educational studies. As the curtain is on such a grand scale, it’s hard to show its magnitude digitally, and this is where the publication really came into its own, as Lennard and the team at HouseTMM were able to use five double pages to show the work in sequence, then followed by a curtain on site, to give an indication of size. The book then ends with the illustration that Lennard says withholds “the most meaning” – the drawing he made to celebrate the birth of his daughter.
Making the book with a studio that understands the concept behind a publication has taught Lennard a lot, he adds, mainly that making a book takes time – but that’s usually what makes it so good. Now, seeing his work on paper is something he describes as a “magical feeling”. “I can now hold it, show it and give it away; an experience I haven’t had before and definitely want to do more often in the future,” Lennard ends. “The power of a book!”
Lennard Kok: Second Nature (Copyright © Lennard Kok, 2020)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.