Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Dick Bruna

Last weekend we visited the Dick Bruna House in Utrecht which was a real eye opener. Everybody knows Dick Bruna or should I say his adorable little creation Miffy, originally called Nijntje in Dutch. He is in a nutshell, one of the most successful and loved Dutch authors alive today who also happens to be an artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Before Miffy was born, he reluctantly started working for his father's publishing company A.W. Bruna and Zoon, now entitled Bruna, where he illustrated and designed book covers, posters and promotional materials. The covers of the Zwarte Beertjes paperbacks became his most popular along with his designs for Simenon’s Maigret series which star graphic silhouettes of a pipe on various backgrounds.

Bruna has also authored and illustrated over 100 children’s books in his own unique style which consists out of heavy graphic lines, simple shapes and primary colors. The first Miffy book was produced in 1955 and almost 30 others have followed but it wasn’t until 1963 that Bruna finalized her now legendary look. His style is instantly recognizable and was inspired by Matisse.

The Miffy books which also feature her friends and family, contain sixteen pages of story. Each page has one illustration and four lines of verse, the last word of the second line rhymes with the last of the fourth. They are written about things that children can understand or situations they will face and they always have a happy ending.

Bruna's books have now been translated into 40 different languages and over 85 million copies have been sold all over the world.

Now I remember reading a few of his books when I was a little girl, especially the one where Snuffie the dog has little ones who poop in the end, powerful and provocative stuff for a four year old. After that I kinda lost interest. His books are sweet and simple for kids but not exactly awe inspiring to more mature readers. Yet after visiting the fun filled Dick Bruna House and seeing the evolution of his style and many (grown up) book covers, it made me realize that behind his treacherously simple style lays a sophisticated genius.

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