All posts by Sjusjun

About Sjusjun

Sjusjun is an experienced illustrator and graphic designer.

Personal work

Besides drawing for clients I really like making illustrations in my free time. I don’t always get around to it. There are periods that I’m so busy with assignments that I have to recharge my batteries with something completely different. Like reading a good book, making a walk in the forest with the dog or just watch Netflix on the couch with a warm blanket.

Ever since I bought an Ipad pro it has become much easier for me to make personal work. You don’t have to be stuck behind the PC to make a nice (digital) illustration. It gives me the freedom to stay on the couch and still be productive. In this post I’ll gladly show you a selection of the work I’ve made while on the eh… couch.

I love experimenting with different styles. Like choosing colours that I would rarely go for in realistic illustrations. Like the one above in blue and yellow. It contrasts really well. Sometimes I try and combine silly colours for a more sketch-like approach. Like the portrait sketch of baking legend Mary Berry. Please try her Lemon drizzle traybake, it is so good and easy to make! Sorry I’m a little bit distracted now ;)

I really love animals, especially cats and dogs. So I like to draw them a lot in my free work. This is a portrait of my dog Dexter (and me) in a more cartoon like stye. I made this illustration when he was sick. I’m happy to report he’s feeling great now!

Of course I also illustrated a cat! I have 3 cats walking around here who all want attention in specific ways and at specific times. They are not afraid to make this explicitly clear.

Learning Dutch with Pim

I think I could write five blog posts about this huge and awesome illustration project I’ve done for the city of Enschede. An educational project for which I’ve made more than 800 illustrations! Let’s start at the beginning.

In the middle of 2017 I came into contact with designer and project manager Petra ter Keurs of Queenie Productions. She was looking for an illustrator to lead a new project that would change the face of preschool language development in Enschede. A project of considerable size. More than 2000 words had to be illustrated in a period of about 9 months. The illustrations would be used in a fun way to help children whose first language isn’t Dutch or children who have to improve their Dutch language skills. A workgroup led by Leanne Jansen and Rianne Buist-Pasveer would be responsible for the lists of words and communication with the schools. And so ‘Praten met Pim’ got created.

We started with conceptualizing a family. Pim is our main character, together with his parents, his little sister Sara and his baby brother Mert he lives in the World of Pim. A world that is constantly growing.

Pim and his family

Petra and I looked for two other illustrators to support us during the ‘mega project’. I’m very grateful that I got to work with Linda van Ballegooijen of Studio Appeltjesgroen and Katrien van Schuylenbergh. I had a great time collaborating with them, they made me feel a little less like a lonely illustrator ;)

The world of Pim started out small and simple with word-cards. Simple words like ‘elbow’ or ‘ball’ had to be drawn. But also more difficult words like ‘gezelligheid’. How do you translate such a very Dutch concept?

A tiny selection of the word-cards I illustrated

All these word-cards need pretty boxes to go in. Well, there was no shortage of that! There is hardly any greater fun than to see your illustrations actually being used. 95 percent of the schools and preschools in Enschede have joined ‘Praten me Pim’. They will all get a lovely box.

Besides making word-cards. I’ve also made two extensive talking boards. Illustrations where you can talk about what you see or search particular words.

‘In the classroom’ Praten met Pim Project

‘Playing outside’ Praten met Pim project

Is the project finished? Not quite. The ‘Praten met Pim’ project has been received so well in Enschede that there may be more to do in the future. I’m looking forward to it!

Illustrated recipe – Throwback thursday

This is an older post from way back in 2013.  But-! I’ve included some more details. This was a great project for me. I had a lot of fun with it!

Ellen from in my Red Kitchen and I have a little history. We both started the same study back in 2003 and were in the same class. Ellen has now moved to the other side of the world. She’s all the way in LA! But I’m glad I can still keep in touch through the ‘magic’ of the internet. Ellen has an amazing food blog, both in Dutch and English!.

In secret we decided to combine our common love of food to celebrate the 1st year anniversary of her blog. This meant that she wrote a recipe and I made the illustration. The result of our efforts can be found below. A Zucchini cake with coconut cream:


Before we started this project, Ellen made photo’s of all the tools and ingredients she used. A virtual mise en place for me. Every step was clearly documented so it would be easier for me to illustrate the full recipe.

After I knew what I was going to draw I needed to figure out what style I wanted it to be in. I fiddled a lot with it. This was one of my first (bad) design attempts. I’m really glad I went for something a lot more bright and playful than this:

I wanted the design to echo a California diner feel. Bright and sunny. Complimenting the illustrations. I think I succeeded in that with the final design. Check out the entire (long and detailed :) illustrated recipe below. Also check out the recipe on Ellen’s website In my Red Kitchen. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out the other great recipes she has!

Continue reading Illustrated recipe – Throwback thursday

A pattern of change

Wow, months just flew by! I’ve been quite busy with all sorts of things. Some big, some small. And not all of them illustration related. One of those things involved moving to a new house. I’m still in
Enschede, it’s just a change of neighborhood. The house is relatively petite in size, but the kitchen is great! My workroom is a bit of a mess with boxes everywhere but I hope to change that soon.

I’ve tested my building architecture illustrating skills for author Gwen Gardner. Who’ll soon have a new website showcasing a new header I’ve made. I’ve also started a huge project two months ago that’ll last till the end of the year developing drawings to help children learn words. Exciting stuff all around!

Here’s a fun side project I did. I dove back into watercolour illustrating and painted these goldfish.

Now this would make a nice pattern right?

Well, Here you go!

Rejected sketches

Most of my sketches hardly see the light of day. They have been crumpled up, stashed away in folders both real life and on my computer. Some of them I end up throwing away. Especially the unfinished ones. I know it’s a bad habit, but I hate to be reminded of illustrations that didn’t work out or frustrated me. Sometimes (especially with commissions) I really like the sketch but they do not match up with the wishes of the client. Sketches can also be a ‘light bulb’ moment, reminding the client that this is not what they were looking for. That’s okay, that’s why I make multiple sketches! Sketches are a crucial part of the journey to a finished illustration.

Here is one of the sketches I made for a recent commission for a school:
rejected sketch
This sketch wasn’t chosen. I ended up making something that better suited the clients wishes. But I still liked the sketch, I liked these kids! It’s also a style that’s been missing in my portfolio. So instead of having the sketch disappear into the black hole that is my computer’s hard drive… I wanted to bring this group of kids to life. Here’s the final result (click on the illustration to see the bigger version):
Rejected sketch brought to life
I really enjoyed finishing it! I’m pleased with the colorful result. Who knows, maybe some other old sketches will turn up in the future…

Portrait commission with a twist

I was asked to draw a portrait of S, based on a rough sketch I made last year. It’s going to be printed on A2 sized paper. So the final illustration ended up pretty big on my computer screen, combined with all the layers I used in Photoshop I could almost hear my computer groan! I learned a lot while making this portrait. I’d probably wouldn’t add so much detail next time. I have a tendency of going too far in details and that can make it look static. I’ll continue to nurture my eh… rough side, but drawing birds is so much fun!


I took the liberty of adding some symbolism: a pomegranate, a raven on the left and a crow on the right (there’s a difference in size and feathering).

By the way, you can now also find me on Instagram. You’ll find sketches, snapshots from daily life, that sort of stuff. Follow me if you’d like.

Check out the details of the illustration behind the cut.
Continue reading Portrait commission with a twist

Cats and dogs

Happy New year! Okay, it’s a bit late, but it’s still January ;) I’ve been busy with finishing up the administration of the past year. It’s not as fun as drawing but it has to be done. To make up for all the numbers I’ve been typing, I bought some “real” pencils and a few sketchbooks. I hope to do more traditional drawing so I can train my eyes and improve my real life sketching. In other news, there’s a new four-legged creature walking around here. A dog! His name is Dexter. We already have 3 cats. But I suppose it wasn’t crowded enough yet. Introductions are hard!


I’ve always know how different dogs are from cats but still… culture shock! It’s pretty much a black blur of fur and energy. It’s fun seeing him grow up and learn though.

Finish what you start

I started this illustration back in June and posted it on my facebook page. But it wasn’t finished yet. I had a lot of great commissions from both old and new clients, so illustrating for clients kept me busy. So I worked on it little by little.

In the mean time a lot happened. Not just good things, but also bad things. In July my grandmother died at 84, a strong proud Surinam woman. I will remember and miss her laugh and her hugs. On August 8 we had to say goodbye to my father-in-law. I will miss the discussions we had and his sense of humour. Strange how life just ends. I still wanted to post this, there’s pieces of me in it that were sometimes happy and sometimes sad, or angry or everything at once.
Illustration - loved by crows