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..:: StarinkWorld - Interview with Bertjan van Eijsden ::..

Bertjan van Eijsden Bertjan van Eijsden (*1958 in Velsen) is a Dutch painter, illustrator and sculpturer.

Among the fans of Arcade's famous "Synthesizer Greatest" (Synth├ętiseur) series, he is known for most of the mostly space-designed cover artworks. Besides the cover artworks, he also made artwork and animations that was used in the TV commercials of the Synthesizer Greatest series and many other Arcade TV commercials. He still makes book illustrations, cartoons, comics and sculptures. In 2010 he published his own comic-book.

In July 2014 StarinkWorld prepared an e-mail interview with Bertjan van Eijsden. The interview was conducted in English by Andreas Heinz.

StarinkWorld: Bertjan, first of all thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Can you tell us something about how and when you discovered that painting is your "calling"?

Bertjan: As long as I can remember I have been drawing. As a young kid I started to draw and never stopped.

StarinkWorld: Can you tell us something about your artistic education as well as your background?

Bertjan: I inherited my artistic skills from my mother. She was an artist, too, doing painting, drawing, pottery and more. And she was lefthanded, just like me.

After my "Highschool" I went to a Graphic School, learning everything about design, typography, layout and print. Besides that I did an awful lot of creative courses. Painting, etching, model sketching, airbrushing, photography and sculpturing in stone and bronze.

StarinkWorld: Let's talk about your time at Studio Myosotis. Please correct me if I'm wrong but according to some sources on the web it was founded in 1972 by two guys. Were you one of the founders?

Bertjan: This is a misunderstanding. I did not work for Myosotis.

StarinkWorld: Oh, I'm sorry for that wrong assumption. Can you remember how and when Arcade contacted you for creating the cover artworks for "Synthesizer Greatest"?

Bertjan: At that time I was working for the post-production company HollandVisions in Amsterdam, where we made all the Arcade TV commercials. I was doing all the graphic work and animations. When we had to make the first TVC, there was no footage available for us to make a TVC. The normal procedure for making a TVC was to get shot footage on film or video that we would cut to a "background" layer where we then could add all the graphic elements e.g. titles, logo's and LP, CD and music cassettes. Everything timed to the music and voiceover. To make a "background" layer for Synthesizer Greatest, I hand painted (on a digital paintsystem) different stars, planets and skys so we could edit these by zooming in and panning along. The tv producer from Arcade loved the work I did and asked me to paint the cover as well. Due to bad communication, Studio Myosotis used my drawing for the cover but not always put my name on the credits.

StarinkWorld: Did Arcade determine the thematic content of the artworks or was it your idea to make them as we all know them today?

Bertjan: Whenever a new cover had to be made, Arcade would ask me to design it and I would send a sketch. All the covers I made were agreed from the first sketch. I had complete freedom in my designs. In total I made 9 CD covers. Synthesizer Greatest 1 till 7, Synthesizer Gold and number 9. All the other covers were done by Myosotis.

StarinkWorld: Did you ever have a listen to "Synthesizer Greatest" thus this kind of music might have an impact on your drawings or aren't you interested in that kind of music at all?

Bertjan: I had listened to the music so I could get the right feel for the artwork I had to make, but that was only for the first album.

StarinkWorld: Can you tell us about the techniques you have used for the "Synthesizer Greatest" artworks?

Bertjan: The first idea was always done on paper. Once I had a good theme, I would do a colour painting on the graphic system that we used. It was a Quantel Paintbox, the first true digital paintsystem. There was only one problem. This system was used for TV only, meaning it could only be used to make paintings on SD fromat. That is 720x576 pixels in size. For print it was not enough, you need far more pixels for that. On this small format Arcade would agree on the design. Then came the big challenge for me. One other company in Amsterdam had a similar Quantel paint system (Graphic Paintbox) but that one could work on higher resolutions, suitable for print. I would make a print of the small design I made, take that to the Graphic Paintbox and redraw the whole thing on a bigger scale? Nowadays you can do all this on your Mac or PC at home.
In one occasion there was never a high-resolution painting made for the cover. I had painted the colour sketch and send it to Arcade for approval. It was approved and send straight to Myosotis to make the cover! This is the number 5 "Lighthouse" version and you may notice it by the lack of detail.

StarinkWorld: I could imagine that many fans of that compilation series may be interested in one or more copies of the artworks. Are there still any originals or repro proofs of these artworks?

Bertjan: There is not much left of the work. All the digital work was not saved and if it would be saved, you could not open it with the modern computers. All the printwork (filmsheets for the printer) were at Myosotis and I don't think there is any left. I found a few proof-prints at home but I won't sell those yet. One big fan of my work wanted to buy one but we agreed that I would paint a complete new illustration in the Synthesizer style especially for him. Because it took me so long to finish the job, I also gave him one of the originals that I still had.

StarinkWorld: While being in contact with Arcade did you ever met Ed Starink?

Bertjan: I don't think I ever met him at the post-production company.

StarinkWorld: You have a website, it's called www.dejaloersekip.nl - I know that "kip" is Dutch for rooster or chicken. But what is the "jaloerse kip" exactly?

Bertjan: It the name of my studio. De jaloerse kip means the jealous chicken. I drew the chicken logo many years ago and when I started my studio and was looking for a good, yet crazy name my youngest daughter said: "why don't you call it De Jaloerse Kip?"

StarinkWorld: Today you are also making comic strips and cartoons which are sort of different to the artworks of "Synthesizer Greatest" for example. Did you also do comic strips/cartoons when you were younger?

Bertjan: I think that comics and cartoon were first. Those space painting were just an other assignment. That's maybe my strength; I paint and draw in many styles.

StarinkWorld: While doing cartoons, is it your intention to criticise a (political) situation or do you have other intentions?

Bertjan: I always hope that the viewer or reader gets a smile on his face when seeing my work. I can't change the world with my cartoons but show people things from a different and unexpected angle. That's what I like, think different, out of the box. When I sold a comic book to my first customer and he sat down, opened the book and started laughing, my day was good.

StarinkWorld: Please also tell us something about "Bertus Bolognese".

Bertjan: Between 2000 and 2010 I drew a comic-series for a motorclub magazine. It was for the Ducaticlub Nederland. I have a Ducati motor and as a volunteer worked many years on the magazine. For each episode I made the story, the text, the drawing and made is ready to print. The magazine is published 8 times a year for the more than 4000 members. After having made 84 episodes of one page in ten years of my comic "Bertus Bolognese" I decided to stop and publish an album for my fans. It contains approx 40 episodes, a page with the first sketches, an interview with me and 2 pages of background information of all the episodes in the album. The first part of the album is in black and white, the rest in colour. That was because the early magazines were printed in black and white.

StarinkWorld: Do you have a favourite technique for creating your artworks or does that depend on the kind of artwork you are doing?

Bertjan: That depends of the assignment. The Synthesizer covers were handpainted on a digital system, cartoons, comics and illustrations are in most cases done in watercolour, black ink, pencil or oilpaint. I prefer analog work, getting the hands dirty!

StarinkWorld: According to your website you also create advertisement graphics and logos for companies.

Bertjan: Yes, I make company logo's as well.

StarinkWorld: Sometimes musicians tend to compare composing music with doing painting/drawings. Would you come to the reverse and compare doing painting/drawings with composing music?

Bertjan: I am not musically at all and feel that music and visual art are two complete different forms of expression, but I highly admire good musicians. There could be a similarity in working order. Making a rough basis to begin, add layers and bringing more and more details and it all comes together with al lot of passion, talent and fantasy. Music and visual art can have the same effect on people, it both can bring up emotions, make you sad or happy, move you or attract attention.

StarinkWorld: Do you have any hobbies?

Bertjan: Photography and sculpturing. And gardening. And riding my Ducati. My sculptures can be seen at www.dejaloersekip.nl.

StarinkWorld: What is your favourite food and colour?

Bertjan: My favourite food is Italian. My favourite colour? How can I choose from more than 16 million colours!

StarinkWorld: Thank you very much for this interview, Bertjan.

The photo is used with courtesy of Bertjan van Eijsden himself.
We would like to thank Bertjan for his kind cooperation.

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