A chat with

Tijmen Snelderwaard

Tijmen Snelderwaard is a freshly graduated illustrator from the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht. His graduation project focusses on how unavoidably and beautifully clumsy we all are.


About Tijmen's graduation project 'OOPS'

"I created five monumental prints that focus on the physical sensation of mishaps. Nobody’s smart enough to know their own stupidity. Nobody’s careful enough to avoid their own oops moment either. Physical folly is a trap we all fall into. In this sense it makes us equals. Besides embarrassing ourselves, these accidents are often a source of hilarity. Through these blown-up, bright images of clumsiness, I force the viewer to positively identify themselves with the depictions."

Sigaret, graduation project by Tijmen Snelderwaard
Sigaret, graduation project by Tijmen Snelderwaard
Sigaret, graduation project by Tijmen Snelderwaard
Wesp, graduation project by Tijmen Snelderwaard

Hi Tijmen, congrats with your graduation! For starters, where does your love for illustration come from?

It's something I've always had. I remember camping with my parents in France. I must have been three years old? My mother had bought me a sketchbook and a bucket of markers. I remember vividly how I spent that entire holiday drawing. I guess I've kept going at it since then. But I've had a very critical stance towards a lot of art. That didn't fade away until I really opened up after my teens.


Why did you choose Illustration at the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht?

After 'picking the wrong degree' I decided to take a year off to freelance and see where I wanted to go. That year, I met students from the HKU. I saw all the new things they were doing, and thought to myself: I really REALLY want to be able to do all these things. In the end, I chose my university on a very intuitive level. HKU lets you go far from the curriculum if you wish to, and that freedom attracted me.


What's the most valuable lesson you learnt during your study?

To be self-critical, but not focus on 'making something amazing'. It annoys me sometimes when the first idea I come up with turns out to be the best one. But you have to keep experimenting to go beyond the initial clichés and get more clarity into what it is you want to achieve.


Where do you find inspiration?

I find my inspiration in everyday life and contemporary culture. It's really interesting to see how people change continually throughout their life. I like reading up on philosophy as it gives me new perspectives on the same things.


How does your workspace look like?

Well, this is definitely not my studio...        

But this is...                      


What are your 3 favourite places in The Netherlands?

1. The dunes near my hometown Heemskerk.

2. Pacing up and down the canals in Utrecht.

3. Visjes, Utrecht.


What are your 3 favourite Instagram accounts?

1. @noeloquence


2. @shanghaiobserved


3. @known_unpleasures


What have you recently seen that you think is great creative work?

Paolo Del Toro's gigantic felted masks. The expressions on their faces, the way mythical themes are translated to felty faces. On top of that, most masks can actually be worn. It's a technique that is usually abused by suburban moms making tiny dogs for a hobby. But Del Toro's work completely negates that stigma and he makes it his own completely. I haven't seen anything quite like it.

Paolo Del Toro: The Visitors from Sirius B

What are your plans in the near future?

Until the 27th of October I'll be showing my work at the Dutch Design Week. Besides that, I want to work hard to make a living working as a creative. I'm starting on a new project and possibly try my luck in some spatial work. So many possibilities!


Can you give one piece of advice to future students?

Allow yourself to make stupid shit. Make your worst work ever. But work hard.


Find out more about Tijmen's work on his website and Instagram.