Ilse Van Stokkum uses playfulness to tap into his collage aesthetic

Updated: Apr 28


"Just have fun and create" is my motto.

Tell us about yourself.


My name is Ilse van Stokkum; nice to meet you! I live in Arnhem, a city in the east of the Netherlands surrounded by green hills and rivers. I make collage art, work as a freelance clothing/stylist, and I'm a creative director and designer for a company that produces bags.


What type of art do you feel most connected to?


I like art that is created by its simplicity. For example, the lines and forms in the furniture of Muller van Severen are an example of delicacy and beauty. The work of Jeane-Claude (in Christo) or Do Ho Su that applies spatial scale inspired me. They dare to play.


How long have you been drawing or illustrating?


Since I was 17 years old, I have been studying various art degrees. Currently, I am thirty-one and still develop myself as an artist in different ways. I started experimenting with collages four years ago and have never stopped.


What inspires you the most to illustrate?


I love the intuitive and playful search to create an aesthetic balance. This workflow is meditative for me; I love puzzling with shapes all day until I meet new work that feels right. 'Just have fun and create' is my motto.


Do you remember your first-ever illustration? What was it?


My first collage still has a special place in my heart; I later called it First Born. It was this piece that reminded me of the fun I have with my work. During graduation, I started doodling using paper cutouts, and there it was my first collage.



Describe your creative illustration process in several steps


My work is about playfulness, without restricting myself with a set-in-stone concept. I believe in freedom and intuition. After this step, There comes a process of reflection and selection. Having fun is one of the essential things in life for me.

  • I mix my own custom mixed paint pigments and paint my paper; I like it when the texture of paint and brushstrokes are visible and tangible.

  • Then, I cut out my shapes intuitively. Some shapes are from my imagination, and the objects around me inspire others. I try to use as much of the paper to avoid waste; this also means that the 'negative' space around a shape often becomes a shape itself.

  • Time to play, this is the most fun part, making compositions. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes to find a strong image, while other works take a long time to find the right balance.



Sometimes there is an additional step that brings my collages to life: I add movement to the shares with little clock motors. This can give the work a really subtle indication that's almost invisible when you quickly look at it, but it's different when you look back. Sometimes a composition is only the same once every 12 hours.


Where do you see yourself in the future?


This aspect of (subtle) movement interests me, and I want to do more work like this. I want to make pieces on a much bigger scale, for example, murals or textile design. But I also believe that living in the now keeps you sharp and grounded, and the future will come as it comes. Sometimes opportunities cross your path beyond your dreams, often in unexpected corners.


What three things would you tell others to be inspired to make art during Covid-19?


It can be hard to begin something new; I think that is a healthy fear of failure. But I always try to have fun and see what results come from that state of mind. For me, art is mostly about the experience of creating it.


My advice: try to make that experience an enjoyable one, and it will show in your work.


  • Stay healthy in these crazy times, for yourself and your environment where you live. Nature is beautiful; I try to treat it with the same love that I have for it.

  • Support local artists by visiting shows and exhibitions where possible, buy prints, and share their work!


Which tools do you use to illustrate? Which one do you use the most?


Paint, Biotop paper, Exacto knife, bookbinding glue, spray paint, wood and fabrics, and last but not least, the succor! (I use these the most)


How can others find your work or connect with you?


Follow me on my Instagram @studio.ilse.van.stokkum to find and buy my work; I use it to inform people interested in my work about new works for sale and contemporary expositions coming up.




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