Where I'm @

A Perfect Mix of Wit, Emotion and Humour

Deborah van der Schaaf
Sun 1 Oct
Function Illustrator and graphic designer
Year 1998
Major Illustration
Practice All Practices

Deborah is both Illustration (1998) and Graphic Design (2002) alumnus.

Deborah works for various newspapers, magazines and publishing houses. Her clients include Flow magazine, Elle, De Volkskrant, Het Parool, WWF, Van Lennep, Querido, Workman Publishing and Verlag Antje Kunstmann. Depending on the commission, its subject and the client, Deborah likes to use various techniques. Photographic illustrations are made in collaboration with Aad Hoogendoorn, photographer.

An ongoing collaboration with Aad Hoogendoorn

"When there’s photography involved my partner - photographer Aad Hoogendoorn - and I team up.
It always works out well because he looks at technical things, lightning and practicality and I do the cooking/styling/crafting part."

Photography Eva Roefs for Volkskrant Magazine item.

What is your occupation now?

I work as a freelance illustrator for various clients (newspapers, magazines, publishing companies).

What expertise did you gain at WdKA?

Looking at a design problem or a client brief in a broader sense than I would have done if I was self-taught. Experimenting. My internship was a big eye-opener too.


What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

Sometimes I feel it is increasingly becoming more decorative. Just like in food, interior design and fashion, there are (global) popular trends and styles. The seasons change so fast!

I’m a shy person and try to decline (whenever I can) the photo shoots in/of my house or irrelevant interviews about myself. But I am aware that creatives are expected to do it more often, it is seen more and more like a ‘part of the job’ nowadays. Having said that, I am also influenced and inspired by styles and trends and am in awe of famous illustrators online. I’m struggling with these things. So, yes, I’m on Instagram too. And my first international client has found me there. I just hope that there will always remain room for harder-to-find-talents and people will still be allowed space for trial and error. It would be horrible if those with the most followers would automatically be regarded as those with the most talent. In any field.

You never leave your house without…? Besides your laptop or smartphone :).

A black Pilot fine-liner and a sketchbook. Nothing fancy.


Any words of advice to future students?

Try out as many different techniques as possible, use and explore all of the workspaces available. One of the reasons I had continued studying after having graduated (from my first major, Illustration) was that I had been too introvert to do so. Get out of your comfort zone while you still can!

Get out of your comfort zone while you still can!

Name your favourite recent project.

Currently, I am working on illustrations for a book of poetry by Hans Hagen called Onbreekbaar (Unbreakable). It is a book for teenagers - and thus has to appeal to them. But the poems are also fragile, personal and a search for an identity, so I am searching too: for images that are not too ‘flat’ but also not too vague. It’s quite daunting.

For de Volkskrant's Sir Edmund book section I’ll be one of a team of illustrators creating the imagery on the regular basis (for the reviews and articles). I really like these editorial assignments with plenty of freedom.

In October 2017 I’ll start working on my first international assignment! I can’t tell anything about it yet, though.

Visit Deborah's website to view the projects she is working on now.