Raoul van Klaveren



Tell me about the picture above.


 This is me in my workshop. I'm working on a booklet made of tissue-paper.

On the wall behind me you can see some experiments in lino cut.

Usually I explore several creative techniques. If the result is satisfying, I apply it to a definite piece of work. Some techniques are invented by myself, some are inspired by books and adapted to what I want.

 Using creative techniques other than just calligraphic techniques helps me being creative in a broader sense. The little ship you see in the picture above was made after visiting the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam. I saw a large model of a mediaeval sacreficial ship. I got the plans from the library (I am able to read such plans since I used to take a great interest in old sailing-ships).

Then I built one myself, creating a much rounder and female shape. The idea entered my head to add sails with calligraphic writing, or to cover the frame with calligraphic work, in order to create a book shaped like a ship.

As you can see, it's work in progress.


You call yourself a bookartist. What do you mean by that?


 I am not a bookbinder. I did learn some bookbinding techniques from a good friend, but they are just tools in which I will not specialize. Making books also is a way to prevent me from straying endlessly. There are so many things I like.

 By constantly returning to the idea of making books, I restrain myself. For instance, I engage on water-colour painting just for illustrating a book, not to become just a good water-colour painter.

 In the 'Bijenboekje' (Bees Book) I use bookbinding, calligraphy, blending of colours, multi-colour perspex-printing, and I also wrote the story. Some people call themselves bookbinder, calligrapher, printer or writer and so they specialize. I prefer to be all-round.


What kind of books do you make? You say you are writing the stories by yourself?


 That is a story in itself. The story of the 'Bijenboekje' (Bees Booklet) arose spontaneously. It was inspired by the narrative style of Winnie-the-Pooh. I was cycling home one dark night, after having a good conversation with a friend. This talk had opened something inside me and the story unfolded during my trip. Once at home I immediately wrote it down.

 The 'Dagboek' (Diary) also has its own story. Firstly I started by making a series of Ecolines on paper (50 on A2 paper), without any clear purpose, which makes it easier to play around. Some weeks later the idea entered my mind to write down my thoughts day by day on these backgrounds and so this diary grew. I added small photographs, pieces of etchings and haiku poetry.

 Some books however do not contain a specific story, my purpose then is design. It continues to be a quest.

 Starting as a calligrapher I used 'beautiful' texts, such as the Desiderata, the speech of chief Seattle, and sayings. But in the long run this felt unsatisfactory, I wanted the content to be closer to myself. Write about what is important to me. About my son, for example. That was the basis for the 'Kinderboek' (Children's Book), I designed this book around something special to him.
 I didn't use calligraphy in this book, I do not want to be cornered in being merely a calligrapher.


But you started as a calligrapher.


 That is right. It quickly became clear to me that, in order to become a good calligrapher, I had to take three steps: study the shape and design of lettering, practise and develop insight into artistic design.

 Studying the shape of characters is very important. During a course I once made people draw a chair, having one standing in front of them. This one chair caused quite a variety of drawings. So it shows, firstly you have to observe keenly and study. Only then practising will succeed. And you will have to practise quite a lot, in order to develop 'muscular memory'.

 Reading a book by Karina Meister I also learned what is meant by artistic design. At first I didn't quite understand what she meant, so I set out reading closely sentence by sentence, asking myself what she was talking about. In this way I discovered what design was all about. A letter is a shape, and the principles of design apply to it.

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