Wijtze Valkema is a designer and illustrator from the Netherlands. With an illustrative approach to design, his work is graphically styled, drawing inspiration from mid century printing techniques. Often character based, he also likes to contrast and soften the harsher vector shapes with printed textures. Currently working on his ongoing side project Drip For Drip, the project involves him trading a ‘Drip’ (a paper coffee cup design) for another. We chatted with him to find out a little more:
How did the Drip For Drip project start?
As a freelancer working from home, I was looking for a fun way to interact with illustrator friends to break the solitude whilst making fun personal artwork.
Having a project every now and then that has a very specific application (a printed coffee cup template) but no client brief or revisions or anything has been a wonderful playground.
I have used this project to try new techniques and encourage participants to make something they have always wanted to do. As a free collaboration project, it should stay as uncontrolled and fun as possible.
Why coffee cups?
Coffee is a no-brainer as a dialogue starter amongst illustrators.
I like it when design is applied. It helps bring to life the otherwise digital environment my illustrations exist in. It steers the composition into a scale, into a rhythm. I remember when a big coffee company (the one with a green mermaid for a logo) introduced an illustrated version of their seasonal red cups when I was interning in Seattle back in 2005.
Not sure if they even do red cups anymore, but I really liked how it added to the autumn pumpkin spice latte vibe. It’s my favourite season. With Drip For Drip, I try to relive this red cup moment year round.
How do you choose the illustrators to collaborate with?
I have a wish list of people I’d like to collaborate with, some of them are ‘online’ friends, some I don’t know personally, but I know their work as a fan. There’s even people asking me if they can join Drip For Drip. I am always happy to meet new people and portfolios.
Can you tell us a bit about each cup design?
I really wanted to do a Halloween edition to kick off the series. I was very happy to have Bratislav Milenkovic on board for the first edition. I really love his coffee dracula cup.
His eye for detail is amazing, he immediately knew how to control the distortion that happens when a flat template is bent into a cylinder. I still use his illustration as a reference for the others. My illustration for Halloween was a silly pumpkin riding a bicycle.
I wanted to do a Christmas edition to push the red cup vibe even further. I knew I wanted this to have that deep red as a background colour to emphasize the December red cups.
The awesome Chi Birmingham agreed to deliver an illustration and I really like where he took it. My illustration is actually based on a felt collage art piece I remember from my grandmother’s house. It was a very geometrical picture of the three kings. You can tell I learned how to manipulate the perspective from Bratislav’s cup.
I invited Loris Alessandria for a car themed edition. I like how it’s a non-seasonal theme. It was a joke between us how we love to draw cars so we went and did it.
Then one of my clients wanted to do something like Drip For Drip for an event. It resulted in a collaboration where I asked Andrew Beck to illustrate a fruit-themed edition.
We made stickers that were used on cups to sell fruit juice at an event in Amsterdam. His fruity smiley face was exactly the right vibe for this collaboration. I loved introducing a client brief into the Drip For Drip process, in this case adding a wonderful social justice issue to our portfolio.
On steam by this time, the Tour de France was coming up fast and as a cycling fan I really wanted to do an edition celebrating the Tour starting in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I found a great artist – Joren Joshua who really made a beautiful cup.
Any plans for the next design?
Many! Depending on artist availability, I’d love to do a Halloween edition again this year and I think Christmas should become an annual tradition!.
I have a children’s book homage idea lying around. I think a city-themed Drip would be cool. I’d love to do a black and white palette edition at some point and I am thinking of doing a group edition with a bunch of artists, possibly combined with a little exhibition of the finished cups.