Perfectly imperfect women: the playful illustrations of Lucia Lenders

Living and working in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Lucia Lenders's work is playful, dynamic and what she calls "perfectly imperfect".

She especially loves to draw women with extraordinarily long arms and legs, almost bursting out of their picture frame. "These playful proportions make them look strong and clumsy at the same time," she says. "I'll often use these expressive, dynamic body shapes to tell a story."

Lucia works on editorial and commissioned illustrations and self-initiated projects, as well as selling riso prints and postcards via Etsy. But while some creatives see client work as a necessary chore, Lucia sees it very differently. "I love the freedom of making my own work, but I also really enjoy editorial illustration," she stresses. "It's the perfect balance of working with my hands and my head."

While studying illustration at AKV Sint Joost in Breda, she discovered a love of figure drawing and hasn't looked back since. "In my illustrations, I represent a kind of woman who's not only beautiful and fashionable and strong, but can also be clumsy, doubtful, and funny, all at the same time," she explains. "No matter how serious a subject, I always look for a kind of lightness and humour in my illustrations. It's a reminder not to take stuff too seriously! I want my work to be fun and relatable."

Lucia works in a shared studio space in Rotterdam. "Someone left an old risograph there that I love to use," she reveals. "It only contained one colour, black, and that had a big influence on my style and work process. It forces you to work more minimalistic and bold. My work has become more simple and graphic as a result. But I do love to use different materials, such as ink, pencil and paper cutouts. I find it very important that there is always a spontaneous, whimsical feel to what I make, even if it's digital."

Visually, she's inspired by a lot of things. "They include people in the street, colour combinations in the supermarket, and talking with friends," she says. "I also have a big passion for thrift shopping for clothes, books and ceramics. But drawing itself is my biggest inspiration and an essential part of coming up with new ideas. I admire Picasso's and Matisse's loose, elegant way of drawing: you can see their ease and joy."


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