Hailing off the coast of Kenya and now based in the Netherlands, freelance fashion illustrator and graphic designer Kristel Steenbergen was chosen as the Selected Artist for the Moxy Amsterdam Creative Invite. Moxy Amsterdam invited all artists in Netherlands to submit ideas for a mural inside the hotel inspired by the city of Amsterdam, and the Moxy attitude of 'Getting Away With It'. Out of over 100 designs submitted, Steenbergen's illustration named “The Amsterdam Jungle” caught Moxy's eye and chose her design. As the Selected Artist, Steenbergen received the opportunity of a lifetime to draw her mural inspired by animals in the wild and the busy city on a huge wall at the Moxy Amsterdam Hotel! Hundreds of guests will now get to enjoy the massive mural permanently installed at the hotel. Check out this exclusive interview with the talented illustrator and pictures of the mural installation.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do?
KS: I was born in a small fishing village right on the coast of Kenya and have been travelling the globe ever since. Like a little Mowgli I was always surrounded by wild animals and I’ve always been fascinated by them. It was therefore no surprise that they would be playing an important role in the work I make today.
I work as a freelance fashion illustrator and graphic designer in Haarlem, the Netherlands. I draw all day, I couldn’t ask for more. I love to draw, travel and I’m also a bit of collector. My studio is full of knick-knacks I pick up during my travels, work and nature hikes.
TH: How/when did you start creating your illustrations?
KS: I believe I was born with a pencil in my hand. As far back as I can remember I have always been drawing. My style of illustrating has seen many changes over the years. I was always searching for something new, something that felt personal. This took me a while to find. It was when I started focusing on what really interested me, nature and animals, did I find the direction I was looking for.
TH: Do you have any favorite artist that has inspired you?
KS: I’m a big fan of Laure Laine’s work. The details in her illustrations are amazing.
African fabric prints are another big source of inspiration. The artists (unfortunately rarely credited for their work) who make these prints have such creative, fun minds!
TH: What did you do when you found out you were chosen as the Selected Artist for Moxy Amsterdam?
KS: I didn’t believe it at first so I wrote an e-mail making sure I understood it right. When I got the reply back stating I was the chosen artist I squealed like a schoolgirl and passed around way too many high-fives.
TH: How did you come up with your concept for “The Amsterdam Jungle”?
KS: Animals and humans share many similar behavior traits. Amsterdam is a busy vibrant city and home to many different characters with different backgrounds. They’re all mixing, interacting, moving and living together. Just like animals do in the wild. This sparked my idea to show the different faces Amsterdam has by using animals from all across the world and show how their day would look like in Amsterdam.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about your experience at Moxy Amsterdam event?
KS: I had such a great time creating the artwork at Moxy Amsterdam. The wall was a massive blank canvas waiting to be drawn on! The Moxy team was so much fun to work with. Many of the people working there could see the artwork coming to life bit by bit and everyday I would see the same faces drop by to see how things were looking. I also enjoyed the fact that everybody had their own associations with the different characters in the design.
TH: If you could have an hour to talk with anyone from the past, who would that be?
KS: Nelson Mandela, but I think an hour wouldn’t be enough though…
TH: Do you have any projects you are currently working on, or planning on doing?
KS: I‘m busy getting things ready for an exhibition in my home city, Haarlem. I’ll be showcasing my work for the coming two months. Next to working on various assignments I’m also busy with two personal projects. One is expanding my postcard collection and the other is to get this story, which I’ve had in my head for ages, on paper!