There’s a big chance you recognise the work of Marié Bodie – the Parisienne alter ego of creative Maartje Bodt – immediately. As an illustrator Maartje Bodt (1982) developed a distinctive visual language over the last couple of years years. And she created some of the cutest illustrations for Chapter Friday too. Remember the colorful coffee mugs, donuts and fries? All Maartjes work. We thought it was time to introduce her to you properly.
After studying Communication and Fashion Styling, Maartje started working as a freelance illustrator ánd stylist and she’s been doing it for the past eleven years (and counting). How does she promote herself as an illustrator? And what are the big pitfalls? Maartje tells us all the ins and outs about making a living of creating on paper.
Why do you do what you do?
Maartje: “I love being my own boss: I get the chance to choose interesting projects and creative and fun people to work with.”
How do people recognise an illustration is a real Marié Bodie?
Maartje: “My illustrations are simple, clean and I like to use bright colors.”
How do you make a living of being an illustrator?
Maartje: “I try and stay close to my own style and taste. My Instagram feed is a wonderful collection of things that I create, things that make me happy and things I find beautiful. I believe Instagram works for me as a portfolio: most people who hire me found me via Instagram. The downside? There is a lot of competition and good people around on Instagram as hand made illustrations are very popular these days. For me, it’s important to make a lot of free work too, to stay in the picture.”
Many creatives are forced to do work for free, or nearly any money. Is that something you struggle with as well?
Maartje: “I find myself having difficulties with the business aspect of my work. It’s hard to make a good deal in the creative sector and actually earning something. The idea of being your own boss is great, but tracking income and expenses is necessary and terribly boring.”
What has been the most difficult part of growing your business?
Maartje: “Trying to be innovative in my work and finding the right balance. For me, that’s the balance between my work as illustrator and as a stylist. Styling is something I’m passionate about and would love to keep doing next to my illustration work.”
Could you tell us more about your office?
Maartje: “I share an office (with an amazing roof terrace overlooking the city) at the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam with several journalists, designers, stylists and illustrators. We’re one big creative family! Many of them work for Vogue. I’m always well informed of what is happening in the fashion and interion design world! I moved to Australia recently and will live here for a couple of months. Here in Sydney, I work from home and I miss the office ladies badly. I’m lucky to have Frankie the dog around who keeps me company.”
In moments of self-doubt, how do you build yourself back up?
Maartje: “In Amsterdam, I used to discuss matters with my creative colleagues or my stylist friends Maartje and Renske. It’s great to have people around you who understand. Especially in moments of self-doubt.”
What milestone are you most proud of?
Maartje: “I’ve been quite busy illustrating a children’s book called &Oskar and I’ve just finished it! It’s something I’m really proud. It was a hell of a ride and took me over a year to finish it.”
What tool, object or ritual could you not live without in your workday?
Maartje: “My Japanese Pentel pen. I can’t possibly do hand lettering without one of those pens.”
Do you have a role model, illustrators you look up to?
Maartje: “Absolutely. I’m a big fan of Gill Button’s work (@Buttonfruit). And I love everything the Dutch Milou Neelen creates: is so beautiful and cool.”
You’ve moved to Australia recently. What are your plans?
Maartje: “I winter down here in Sydney for the next couple of months and I love it. The perks of being and illustrator: I can work everywhere. It’s terrific. I grab a coffee to go every morning, catch the sun and work for a bit. Okay, I have to be honest with you: it’s hard to concentrate on your work when Bondi beach just around the corner!”