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Juan Wijngaard

As a child

My mother is a painter, so art materials were commonplace in our house. Drawing was just something we did. I was not considered particularly gifted amongst my peers, as there were plenty of really talented “top drawers” in my class. Drawing was the thing I liked doing best at school (I was not very good at anything else), and eventually it became the thing I loved above all else.

As an adult

I spent my first year out of school working in an office. It was there that I learnt the valuable lesson that one should not waste one’s life doing something, if one’s heart is not in it. So I applied to join an art school (my first two applications were rejected, but I managed to find a place eventually). I got my first commission, to illustrate a children’s book, while I was still at art school.

As an artist

My style of illustration changes with time, and with the material I am illustrating. I love trying out new things. One of my favourite little pleasures in life, is going to my studio with a bag full of new art supplies to play with. After illustrating over thirty books, I have started painting for its own sake, using oil paints on canvas. It is very different painting something that has to be seen from across a room, from something you hold in your hand!

Things you didn't know about Juan Wijngaard

  1. I was born in Argentina; I went to art school in England; I live in California; but I'm actually Dutch.
  2. I make, restore and play hurdy-gurdies.
  3. I've been shot in the head, been in a bus that was hit by a train, and been hit by a car while crossing a road – and I’m still in one piece!
  4. My studio is in an airport hangar.
  5. I have five sons. So far, three have chosen to be artists.
  6. I play music at the Hollywood farmers’ market on Sundays.
  7. I’m a vegetarian. My wife has been a vegetarian since she was seven!
  8. Before becoming a vegetarian, my favourite food was lardy cakes.
  9. I once walked along Hadrian’s Wall in Victorian costume.
  10. I speak five languages, but don’t say much.

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