Surface Design : Irrimirri {Miriam Bos}

The world of Miriam Bos is filled with mermaids and butterflies, rabbits and bees. It is an idyllic place, brimful to overflowing with the joy of living and the warmth of friendship.

Now I’m usually not one for general cuteness, but what struck me about Miriam’s designs are her wonderful drawing skills and her absolutely superb colours. These colours are rich and full with great depth, despite the minimal use of graduated tone to create three dimensional effects. They are warm, filled with light, and inviting. This so obviously comes from a deep understanding of and love for colour. Flowers appear like jewels and jellyfish glow like chandeliers.

pomegranate

After completing school, Miriam studied Illustration at the renowned Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, graduating in 2002. Then after a brief and unhappy stint working for a greeting card company (who basically asked her to breach copyright by getting her to copy artwork from other artists and companies), she set out on her own as a freelancer, which she has been doing ever since. Miriam points out her surname is ‘Bos’, which is the Dutch word for ‘forest’. She says she liked it for a business name, and “That’s why trees and forest critters keep occurring in my work!”

flowers in my garden

 

strawberry fields forever

 

Although sometimes she simply starts a drawing and keeps going to see what comes of it, more usually she makes a sketch beforehand, “because I hate it when I’ve painted something and then think it would’ve looked better if I placed it in another corner. I can be very precise about what I want I guess.”

And inspiration can happen at any time. “I always have all kinds of silly images and ideas popping up in my head, so wherever I go I always carry paper and pen with me to write it down. Or, in case I forget my pen, I use my phone to write down notes.”

flower power (dark)

 

“It was when I was 10 that my parents told me about the Academy of Arts, and I knew that I wanted to go there. I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. They told me that I needed to do very well at school to be able to get there, and from that time on it was my goal in life.

“I was always very creative from a very early age. My parents, especially my mum, encouraged me a lot. She is a very talented person herself. She is great at sculpting, decorating, and sewing. She can also draw, though she never really took it further. When I was little she taught crafts workshops; she knows a lot about craft materials and how to work with them, and consequently my sister and I were never short of materials to use. My mum made sure we had all we could wish for and we often had weekends of arts and crafts together.

“My sister is also quite creative, and is now a jeweller. My dad is creative in a different kind of way. He is very clever with constructions and such. He helped build the kitchen in our house. So I guess we were all creative, but in different ways.”

 

ditsy sea turtles

funny bunny bikers

But despite the fabulous love and support from her family, there have been hard times too. “Towards the end of my time at art school, I had a major block. I had the feeling that everything I created was ‘wrong’, not tasteful, not good, too cliche and so on. Just not right. Don’t get me wrong. I loved art school, and we were taught to become our own critics, which is good. But I am very much a perfectionist with things and I was very critical of myself. Nothing could happen spontaneously in a drawing any more. Every line I put on paper I thought about before I drew it, and at that point I hated everything I made. When I look back I see that my work then looked stiff and forced; it didn’t feel flowy and nice. I knew I could do much better, but the flow was missing, and it took me more than a year to get over it. Now I like my work and I love working on art again. But it was a pain at that point; it’s not easy to change yourself.

“During that period I made a lot of fantasy paintings (fairies, mermaids, and nymphs especially). It’s a totally different style of work compared to what I make nowadays, and at school they were considered wrong and cliche. But because I wanted to get past my block I made them anyway, just because I could. I felt a bit like a rebel, though in the end it’s silly if you think about it. But it helped me get over it.”

Through her career, she has had a great time working on some really fun projects. “For instance, I have lived in the USA for half a year to work on a project for a Kid’s museum in California. It’s called Kidspace (Pasadena), and they have this great exhibit about bugs and the like. I worked on animations and some graphic design for this project, hired by MAD systems. It really was a great experience, and there were plans that I would stay and live there. But most of the time I was animating; I like it, but I love illustrating more.”

Now, Miriam is working towards her dream goal of illustrating and publishing her own children’s book. “I like writing, though I am not that good at it. But perhaps I will be able to do a real children’s book in the future together with a writer. I’ve done some educational children’s/story books in the past, which is fun, but not quite the icing on the cake just yet.” {Would any writers like to take up her challenge? Those illustrations are very gorgeous!}

 

miriam bos – sketchbook

 

Miriam works from her home, which she shares with her husband. She loves the way it’s set up. “Our living room is also my working space. We have a large living room, and in one of the corners I set up my computer corner – a big desk with an iMac and a Cintiq (yes I am spoiled). The walls are covered with pretty cards and art from fellow illustrators. And on my other wall I have a card rack with my card designs in them and shelves with some of my work in books and my fun kokeshi doll collection. My creative space is colourful and cheerful and a bit chaotic, which suits me I guess.

“And then there is the other corner of the living room where my husband and I both have a table where we can be creative with paint and paper and such. All my painting and drawing stuff is there. My husband Coen sometimes has this urge to create something as well – last time he was making himself a papier mache helmet. Just out of the blue. He loves working on silly ideas he has every now and then. And he draws a lot there too.”

 

miriam bos – workspace

And a final piece of advice?
“Do what you love best. I think my parents told me this. At least they always encouraged me to do so, and I love them for that.”

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You can find more of Miriam’s work on her own website www.bosplaatjes.nl (she apologises for most of it being in Dutch, although the blog is in English!). There, you can see more examples of her illustration, comics, and some freebies (including Christmas decorations). You can also purchase her fabric designs through Spoonflower here.

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With thanks to Miriam for generously sharing her words and images.

 

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One Response to “Surface Design : Irrimirri {Miriam Bos}”

  1. Laura

    Lovely feature and gorgeous photos/fabrics. I agree – well worth a little injection of “cuteness”. 🙂

    Reply

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