A Life in Color: The Illustrations of Antwerp Artist Fennabee

Fenna Bouve, an artist in Antwerp, Belgium, covers her canvas with bold, bright colors. Her creations at Fennabee, from mail art to typographic displays, are full of life — and will put a smile on your face.

How did you get started with mail art?

“I started my site, Fennabee, while pregnant with my first son, and it was an incentive to keep drawing during this period. But since I’m a mother — and I guess other mothers will relate — I have less time to draw. After my second child, I also realized that I’d lost touch with a lot of dear friends. Then I discovered mail art: a very loose way of making art and corresponding with friends and fellow mothers.

mail art-fennabee
Mail art, courtesy of Fennabee.

The process is similar to collage. I stick drawings on stickers, attach washi tape in vivid colors, add paper ephemera, and then draw a funky and crazy composition on the envelope. It’s a fun process: very free and unstructured.

What will we find in your toolkit?

I love all “watery” media: aquarelle, brush pens, ecoline, ink. I always keep searching for the most vivid colors and brands. For aquarelle, Schmincke is my favorite brand. And for brush pens, Kuretake is the absolute best for me. My line drawings are always by hand, and Chinese ink and pen are my favorites for drawing. Nothing is as black!

Recently, I’ve experimented with digital coloring, so I scan line drawings and color them in Photoshop. It’s great because I can easily change the palette, but then I miss the meditative effect of coloring. So, I’ll never go totally digital.

Antwerp landmarks, illustrated in black and white.
Antwerp landmarks, illustrated in black and white.

What inspires you to pick up a pen and create?

Anything can inspire me — there are many things I’d like to draw! When I see David Hockney, I want to draw landscapes. When I see African tissues, I want to draw folkloric patterns. When I feel a bit blue, I want to listen to Leonard Cohen and draw his lyrics. Life triggers me to draw. I’m attracted to colorful and vibrant things, images, and people. This Talmud quote applies here, too: “We don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are.”

The work space of Fenna Bouve.

Running is one of your passions. Does it influence your artistic side?

I like this quote when referring to running: “It’s just that I have to.” And that goes for drawing, too. I don’t think I’m an exceptional illustrator or runner — I do both because they give me something I need. But running does influence my drawing: when I draw about running, or illustrate a running quote. I love to combine these two passions.

Fennabee's Antwerp: great for running and biking.
Fennabee’s Antwerp: great for running and biking.
Haruki Murakami on running, illustrated.
Haruki Murakami on running, illustrated.

Discover the world through Fenna Bouve’s eyes on her site, Fennabee, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

January 21, 2016Art, Illustration, Inspiration, ,