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Meet the creator: Leonie Bos

2 April 2019 / Meet the Creator /

“When creating an illustration my approach is almost architectural, all elements are assembled to become a perfect unity”

Leonie Bos

Leonie in her Amsterdam-based studio.

As the reinvention of The Glasshouse nears completion, we had a chance to interview Leonie Bos, who created the fabulous illustration of the new conservatory extension! Read her stories about times such as living in a cold squat in Amsterdam, dressing her newborn baby in a ski suit! Thankfully, today’s a different story and we wish her so much success in her work.

Where in the world are you based?
I’ve been living in Amsterdam for quite a while now, actually 20 years, so it’s where I feel at home, but I grew up in the countryside and I’m considering moving back as Amsterdam is getting increasingly hectic. On the other hand, being surrounded by talent triggers me to stay on top of my game. I’m worried a vegetable garden won’t be as stimulating…

How long did it take you to create the illustration of The Glasshouse conservatory?
From start to finish, probably 3 weeks. The Grove’s commission was pretty straightforward so we could jump straight in. I was given a CGI to draw from so I relied on the actual architectural elements for the initial sketch, but quickly focused on dividing shapes and deciding on colours – an integral part of any artwork. I prefer to keep my colour palette minimal, creating additional colours by blending the main ones, which gives my illustrations a nice layered structure.

The Glasshouse restaurant refurbishment

Leonie’s illustration of The Glasshouse.

Do you work off-screen at first to do the initial sketching?
It depends on the project, but yes my initial sketches are often on a slip of paper or whiteboard. The other day I made one on the misty door of the shower! That one didn’t make it to my client though!

Why did you change from making illustrations ‘by hand’ to creating them digitally?
I switched right after my very first editorial commission. The painting took longer than expected, was rejected, and I was asked to start all over again. I knew that Photoshop would be more efficient and would allow me to meet demanding deadlines. The crisp lines, overall precision and all the creative possibilities had me hooked.

Mac or PC?
Mac, since the beginning.

Who or what has influenced your style the most?
My father is high on the list. As an architect’s daughter I never had a chance to not get infected by meticulousness. But, he also has a great eye for aesthetic functionality. He found creative solutions by eliminating unnecessary details. Illustrating may not be about creating something functional, but there’s always a message to decipher and deliver, and if you want to communicate this without being too literal, you have to be resourceful and subtle. So, every element in my work is considered for meaning and composition. And of course, there are all the architectural features that you see reflected in my work: structures, CAD patterns and perspective. It all crept into my work over time and resulted in the signature style I’m known for today.

How old were you when you started drawing and illustrating?
My mom remembers helping me keep a grip on the pencil, I was that small. Growing up, I thought illustrations were only for children’s books, in watercolour, which felt ‘uncool’. Then after I studied fine arts I accidentally became an illustrator after all. I was squatting in a cold, burnt-out apartment in Amsterdam setting up a painter’s studio with no heating, no water, and had to dress my newborn baby in a ski suit in her crib. It was for her that I reconsidered my self-imposed spartan lifestyle, taught myself HTML and became a web designer, graphic designer, art director, and finally editorial illustrator. It’s been 15 years now, and I love every day. I’m represented by Handsome Frank, a prestigious agency. So a lot has changed. Maybe one day I will even illustrate a children’s book, in watercolour.

Do you specialise in architectural illustrations?
I definitely have a preference for drawing buildings or constructions or interiors for editorial.

What’s your favourite illustration – can you share it with us?
A couple of months ago I made a quick one for a small newspaper article honouring a Dutch food critic, who was quite a notable figure, notorious for his reviews and characterised by his conspicuous hat. So I came up with the idea of showing a table setting and instead of a dinner plate you see his hat. When creating an illustration my approach is almost architectural, all elements are assembled to become a perfect unity. But also the immaterial parts are decisive, like the shadows. They’re of similar importance to the objects themselves.

Illustration by Leonie Bos

Commissioned by Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant about the famous Amsterdam food critic, the late Johannes van Dam.

We love seeing artists’ studios. What’s your workspace like – can you send us a photo?
My studio is in the former Palace of Justice in Amsterdam. I don’t share the space with anyone so I’m totally focused. My only distraction comes from screaming tourists on pedal boats getting hit by tour boats!

Where can guests go online to see more of your beautiful work?
On instagram @leoniebosss and leoniebos.nl

When you’re off duty and relaxing, what’s your local restaurant of choice and why?
Probably ’t Blaauwhooft. They serve the best cheese fondue ever!

We hope you come to see The Glasshouse when it reopens – what would you like most to eat?
I would love to be there when it reopens! After studying so many pictures I feel like I know the place already 🙂 I think I’d go for the Live Asian Noodle Soup Station. No wait, the Crustacean Station. Well, I have some time to make up my mind before the opening, right?

To experience the newly refurbished Glasshouse for yourself, click here to book.

Meet the creator: Leonie Bos | The Grove