Peter van de Wiel is a hard working Cartoonist/illustrator from the Netherlands, making cartoons for dutch consumer sites and dutch radio and more.
He also has his own web page with a huge archive stretching back to 2009.
You can find him on linkedin, but this link shoves you into a whole bunch of Peter’s, and unless you are a linkedin member you will be stymied.
His cartoons are also on the Consumer site, kassa, which sort of remind me of Consumers Reports, and the old Confidential magazine of the 50’s.
Google also has a lot of his images,
That being said, I never ran across any of his work until I got copies of two books that Peter and Robert Jan Schinkel produced. The first book was on the adventures of Baron Dragonder, based on stories Robert Jan used to tell his kids.
[insert back cover]
and a while back the second, De K(r)oning Te Rijk,
In fine print: The tale of the hidden Crown. And, How Bathmen children helped the Prince of Orange.
Or, as I transliterated the above, a children’s story of how the children of The Netherlands, helped establish the first Crown Prince, King William the First, 200 years ago.
From inside the book, And they lived happily ever after.
I did not find either of these in US bookstores, either new or used, but through the good offices of my son who brought them back on two of his visits over there. I have known the Schinkel family for many years, and even was at the wedding of Robert Jan and Elodie many, many years ago. So, I knew one half to the creative team, and set out to learn more about the other half. I asked, and Peter kindly took time from his obviously busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Visual Humor. First, let me thank you very much for this opportunity.
Peter van de Wiel. You’re welcome, the honor is mine.
VH. There is a gentleman in my town who states that he writes comic books, in that he does the dialog, and sends detailed instructions to illustrators who are in, if not third world countries, than at least SE Asia, the Orient, etc. He tells the illustrators how the characters should look, how they should express his ideas, where on the page they should be located, etc. I can not see this type of relationship between you and Robert Jan. So, I would appreciate your thoughts on your working relationship with Robert Jan, and for that matter any other people with whom you have collaborated. Also, how did the collaboration(s) come about?
P v d W. For a cartoon the joke has to be good… it has to grip the imagination. so if you can write good jokes, any fool can draw them… and you don’t even have to be a good artist to draw a successful cartoon. But when the drawing is “poor” the jokes are mostly very good. but it is also a matter of taste… for “Hein de Kort” is an artist I admire for his style and humor but not everybody agrees with this.
My collaboration with Robert Jan, is like magic. When I make a drawing for someone else I rarely have to do a do-over. For most of the time I make what the client expects and sometimes I exceed it. But with Robert Jan it is different… we not only understand each other, we also exceed each other. Robert Jan can make a wonderful story, and I make a drawing that captures the essence of the story. Or I can make beautiful drawings and he will give it a deeper meaning with his writing-Robert Jan asked me to make one drawing in his first book of the Baron Dragonder.
I ended up making 10, and that started our cooperation. I work with more people but with Robert Jan it is truly a joint venture. we are both dreamers…
VH. How did you get started drawing and illustrating?
P v d W. I stated drawing when I was little… sitting for the television watching weekend morning cartoons with a sketchbook on my lap. Yes, that’s my childhood… and I have been doing it ever since. About 15 years ago I got my hands on a comic book called “scribbly” from a dutch artist, Jan Paul Arends. He wrote that on his first book, he forced himself to make one drawing everyday. I took this as my starting point, but I was terrible at making up a storyline for a joke. So I used the number one dutch radio station, 3fm.
The morning show was every weekday, and I made a cartoon about the show every day. I sent it to them via one of the producers and in no time a friendship was born. I still make drawings for 3fm, but not on a daily basis anymore.
VH. Do you have now, or had in the past, your own strip?
P v d W. No… I made many many many cartoons, but never a comic strip; but, who knows…
VH. Do you do Editorial Cartoons. As an aside, many years ago, Neil Matterson, a cartoonist in Melbourne Australia mentioned that almost no one made a living doing comic strips, and he had several. He said producing Editorial cartoons was the bread and butter for him. Here is a blog on one of his books.
P v d W. well I do occasionally make cartoons for the on line consumers site, Kassa. It is a weekly cartoon about a news item… it’s sort of a editorial cartoon. However, they only are published on facebook and my own site.
VH. You have a presence, actually many presences, on social and business media. What are your thoughts on how a person should market their talents?
P v d W. The social media is wonderful for making one visible on the internet… almost all of my customers are from the social media… but… you must keep yourself visible… post lots of work and don’t be afraid that people will steal it… because if your work gets stolen, it means it’s worth something. and your name will linger…
VH. What is the most enjoyable part of your work.?
P v d W. Beside make a invoice… (^_^) no, the most enjoyable thing is making a cartoon that surpassed the expectations of the client. the joy of the client getting something better then they hoped for, and you’re the one that gave it.
VH. Least enjoyable?
P v d W. When a drawing doesn’t meet the expectation… even after the corrections… luckily this doesn’t happen often.
VH. Why did you settle where you did?
P v d W. Settle? as in where I live? I was born here and I probably die here. Or, did you mean, settle in my work? I didn’t settle… I never settle. As long as I make drawings, I will get better… and my work will change… it will always change.
VH. What does your family think of your cartoons?
P v d W. They are proud of what I do. My daughter has also potential… she is very good at realistic drawings… and she is 14… but she must find her own path.
VH. What about your family in general?
P v d W. We are a very close family… we are proud of each other… very proud…
[VH. I could not quite decide about the image above his wife’s head. Peter explained that it was an inside joke, he thought about making drawings, but his lovely wife thought about her doll house. I guess if I’d studied her cartoon more, I would have seen the cat (dog?) looking at the doll house.]
P v d W. I served 1 year in the military, where I received my drivers license for a truck. That came in handy… I do believe that the military did me good… However, I cling more to the principle that the Buddhists use. One year living as a Buddhist monk, will learn you to be thankful and humble.
VH. Did you spend a year following that path?
P v d W. I just love the Buddhist way. I didn’t follow a year of Buddhist monk, but I do call myself a Buddhist believer. Also, I didn’t forget the old ways of the Celts. I have many many many beliefs in me, and for that I am truly a very religious person… there is just no one religion to contain it all…
VH. How do you decompress?
P v d W. In 2 ways… I game, Nintendo or GTA… but most of the time I just watch TV and draw at the same time… just like when I was a little kid.
VH. What tools do you use to create your cartoons; tablets, software, hand draw and scan, what?
P v d W. I’m an old school artist…first I sketch and then ink the drawing. Next, I scan it to produce a digital image. I heighten the contrast of the image, then export it to Illustrator to produce a vector graphic, then back to Photoshop to color it.
VH. When you were growing up, what if any, cartoons did you follow? What do you miss?
P v d W. Calvin and Hobbes… I got all the books of Calvin and Hobbes… Bill Watterson is my hero… there are a lot of comics I like, but no one comes close to Bill Watterson’s work. Bill is truly an artist… he made comics a higher art form for me. but still available for the masses… truly keeping Calvin and Hobbes a comic, and not a brand, like Garfield.
VH. In a recent post I reviewed a book skewering the Australian Bicentennial. The book is, Beyond A Joke An Anti-Bicentenary Cartoon Book. The cartoons are deadly. Poor choice of words, given the recent events, so let me say that the feeling of social (in)justice really jumps off the page in that book. So, how do you feel about the power of cartoonists to affect change in a population?
P v d W. Well there you have an elephant in the room.
First, I believe truly in the freedom of expression. one must be able to say what he wants… BUT!!! that does not mean that that you can say what you want… it is a moral dilemma for one must be able to distinguish the difference of what you can say and what you must say. Hurting someone with words is not the way to go, because that is the work of us cartoonists. We are the moral conscience of the world… it has always been this way, even in the old days of Rome, where discontent was shown with graffiti in the streets of Rome. Charlie Hebdo is a part of this moral conscience. People who don’t agree with the artists of Charlie Hebdo, must use the same weapons as they have used. With cartoons you can disarm harmful cartoons and cartoonist. sadly history shows another path.
VH. We all remember Boss Tweed lamenting that his constituents might not know how to read, but they could understand the Thomas Nast cartoons about him.
P v d W. A picture tells more then a thousand words. and pictures are powerful, especially if lots of people recognizes themselves in the cartoon…
Again, thank you for taking time from what I know to be a very busy schedule to share something about you, your family, cartooning and cartoons.
And a final comment from Peter.