Dutch illustrator Max Grünfeld instantly charmed us with her surprising illustrations. From monkeys poised on handlebars to fighting lovers and wayward deer, she creates fantastic, richly coloured worlds. An exhibition of work is showing at Velour, a boutique on Huidenstraat in Amsterdam, until 24 March.

What was your first project?
It was an illustration for the book 'Jan Kruis, Die kan tekenen' (Jan Kruis, He can draw) in 2009. The book was made specially for Jan Kruis, receiver of the Dutch Comic Award. It was an amazing first project, because my illustration was side-by-side with some of the comic-artists and illustrators that I admired.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I find my inspiration in the things that I see in the world around me. Mostly it comes from people and their social interactions. Wether it is funny, remarkable or serious, I take it all with me and into my work.

Traveling and living in different places also brings a lot of inspiration to me, it puts things into new perspectives as I sometimes haven't seen them before. To name an example, I've lived and studied in Barcelona during my 4 year Bachelors in the Netherlands. This is one of the things that influenced me and my style for a big part.

What’s your artistic process?
Usually I've a box full of ideas in my head or written/drawn down in my notebooks. When it is not something I do for myself but for an article, a book or for a specific client, I start by finding out what it is they want to communicate. I break it down to as few words as possible and then start sketching out how I can transform their message into image. Almost always I make a rough sketch first. If I'm lacking inspiration, I leave it be for a bit of time and take a walk or start doing something else. Inspiration sometimes can come at the most unaware moments.

For me material use is a very important part of creating the image, the choice of media really influences the atmosphere that I want to portray. In general I mix all kinds of materials and - besides a basic estimation when sketching - I decide when working on a piece if other materials should be added. When started working on an illustration, I get into a flow, where I usually know what color to use and where to put my pencil.

As last, I try to not be afraid to work with new techniques and try new things. To always stick with what you know, just because it works, means – for me - no more growth as an artist.

What are you planning to work on next?
Honestly, the last couple of months have been so busy that I promised myself to take a short break and move all of my last stuff to Germany, decorate the flat and then pick up the work again, but there are some nice projects up ahead.

City of Residence Hamburg
Age 22
Education Institute of the Arts ArtEZ - Zwolle - Bachelor illustration - 2007 - 2011, Erasmus at the Institute of the Arts Escola Massana - Barcelona - 2010
Motto Life is as good as you make it to be.
Favourite quote DO it, then it's DONE
Best advice received It takes 5 years for an illustrator to be able to live off of his/her work.
If it wasn't for this advice that I got from my teachers I would have thought in the past that I was doing something seriously wrong.
Best tip for artists If you take a side-job, make sure it doesn't take up to much of your time, because before you know it you won't get the time to work on what you really want.
Three things every artist needs However cliché it might sound: passion, endurance and a bit of luck (and okey, a bit of talent as well).
Newest addition to your studio An awesome cute suitcase / storage folder for my paper.
First artist that inspired you Egon Schiele, I absolutely adore his work.

Images courtesy Max Grünfeld.