Monday, June 4, 2012

In Conversation with
Dutch Illustrator Margot Senden

by Catherine Lee
Margot Senden
Edited by L. Fernandez

Margot Senden, once a junior designer for Hallmark Cards, illustrates children's books. She has two books coming out in August 2012. She's a wife and mother to two children, working on her childhood dream, and is doing a wonderful job. I hope you enjoy the interview. 

Please tell me about yourself.
My name is Margot Senden, I was born on February 9 1968 in the Dutch town Kerkrade. I am married to an Englishman, who makes me laugh out loud. We have 2 beautiful daughters and a lovely German Shepherd. We live in the most beautiful rural part of the Netherlands (at least I think so) in a small village called Mechelen. It is close to the Belgian and German border. 

What makes you laugh? 
What makes me laugh: my husband... whenever I am in a sad, bad or grumpy mood, he is the one that is able to make me laugh. And so many other things as well.

And what makes you cry? 
What makes me cry: I am so sentimental. Even a Disney film can make me cry. 

And as a child, what did you enjoy most?
I love stargazing with my 8 inch telescope, I love my Zumba an Sh'bam and I enjoy playing the piano, accompanying my daughters. My eldest daughter plays the guitar, my youngest the Cello.

What is your favorite color?  
My favorite colours: blue & lilac.

When you decide that illustrating children's books, and was it difficult to get your first project?
As long as I can remember, I wanted to become an artist. What kind of artist wasn't very obvious to me as a young girl. Ballet dancer, musician, painter. I liked all three. After secondary school, I went to the Conservatory or Music Academy to study piano & teacher's training, During the music lessons the notepapers were filled with sketches and doodles instead of music. So after 2 years of sketching I decided it was time to follow my heart. 

I went to Art academy and loved every single bit of it. From that moment on I then knew that I wanted to become a children's book illustrator. 

After I got my degree, I started working as a graphic designer and also as a junior designer for Hallmark Cards. 

Nowadays it is 50/50. I have a part-time job as a graphic designer and work part-time as a freelance children’s book and editorial illustrator. 

What was your first project? 
My first project? Let me think.... I think that was when I was still studying at Art academy. An author saw my illustrations and asked me to illustrate his book. My first assignment for an editorial illustration was in 1996 for a company called Hago. 

It looks like you use traditional method, perhaps watercolors. What method do you use? Do you use digital illustration? 
I love to work traditional and use traditional methods most of the time. I use acrylic, watercolours and do collage's as well. Every so often I use my art board to add details or collages to the traditional illustrations.

The editorial illustration I make however, are digital. Made with Adobe illustrator.

What inspires you to wake up every day, and enjoy what you do?
Everything, especially the small everyday things in life that can be so touching and special. My children giggling, long walks with our dog Darwin in the beautiful environment I live in. Birds singing, People I meet. Stargazing, daydreaming and keeping in touch with my childhood. Being able to giggle out loud with my daughters. 

I know that you live in Europe, and would you say that your illustrations differ from Americans?
I really don't know. Inspiration is taken from familiar surroundings and yes, maybe therefore there will be differences between American and European, or in my case Dutch illustrators.

What style would you say that your illustrations resemble? 
I hope my own unique style and of course I hope they resemble whatever I am drawing.

There are so many aspiring artists/illustrators that would like to be published. What is your advice to them? 
Stay yourself, look around, notice, receive, sketch and work hard. And very important: stay positive and make sure that you have a good network of friends and illustrator's. Also one last advice: illustrating should be like writing. Everybody develops his own handwriting, it is not something you go and look for, it is something that is already in you. So keep on going and the style will float to the surface and will find you.

Are you agented, and if so, what agency to do you belong to? What advice would you give about finding an agent or going freelance? 
No not yet, I am the wrong person to ask. In fact I would welcome any advice. 

What is the most difficult part about being an artist/illustrator in the children's market?
The most difficult part? The amount of absolutely brilliant illustrators. 

Do you also do artwork for the educational market? If so, how does that differ from creative illustrations for children's books?
Yes I work for the educational market as well. For the educational market there is precise instruction on what to draw, where as with children's books there is room for own interpretation in of what is worded .

What is your favorite children's book? And why?
Not an easy question... I love so many children's books.

I love the original "Winnie the Pooh", Julia Donaldson's "the Gruffalo" and Roald Dahl's "Matilda", Books written and illustrated by Tony Ross as well as so many other children's books, my bookshelfs are overloaded with them.

What is your newest work coming out? And what did you enjoy about doing this work?
My newest work will be released in the autumn of 2012. A lovely non-fiction book for children up to 6 years old about horse riding. it is written by Netty van Kaathoven and will be published by Clavis Publishing

At the moment I am still working on this book. I just finished the cover illustration yesterday.

What I love about working on this picture book? Animals, I love drawing animals. 

Pen & Ink would like to thank Margot Senden for this interview. For more on Margot Senden, see her blog. It's in Dutch, so turn on your Universal Translator.


  1. I think your illustrations are just beautiful and it was so nice to interview! I wish only the best of you in all your endeavors!

    Catherine :O)

  2. Thank you very much Catherine, I loved to do this interview and would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity:).

  3. I love your pictures...and the interview. Thank you!

  4. Catherine and Margot-- Thank you both for doing this interview at The Pen and Ink Blog. I enjoyed reading this so much and your art is lovely.

    1. thank you so much for your compliment.

  5. Margot, your illustrations are breathtaking! Absolutely lovely! Best wishes for your continued success/

  6. Beautiful illustrations. You have wonderful talent. I loved the interview. I wish you great success.

  7. I really enjoyed this interview, and these beautiful illustrations!

  8. Great interview, and I have to agree, husbands are good for a laugh, especially when they don't mean to be. Wonderful artwork.

    1. Yes Charmaine, you are absolutely right:). And thank you for your compliment on my artwork.

  9. It's always fascinating for me as a writer to see an interview with an illustrator. Being able to draw and paint is a wonderful talent and gift. Margot, thanks for including some of your beautiful illustrations.

  10. So many responses, wow. I want to thank you all for your lovely responses.

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