Dick Bruna (The Illustrators)

Bruce Ingman, Ramona Reihill

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

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Ingman met Bruna in 2004 at publishing event, a conversation that stimulated research into his work, a gap in UK literature at the time. The research began in 2016 when Ingman was approached by Sir Quentin Blake to be a part of documentation to secure funding for the Illustrator series. Ingman was an active member of a group of creatives and academics (Sir Christopher Frayling and Sir Phillip Pullman) who devised the proposal for series commission.


The main body of research,conducted over 18 months, contains a biography and practice exploration. Research included literature reviews, visits to the RCA Library, Thames & Hudson archives, Mercis archives and exhibition catalogues. Two site visits were made to the Mercis (Amsterdam), Miffy Museum and the Central Museum (Utrecht) where Bruna’s studio was reconstructed. Interviews were conducted with the CEO of Mercis Marja Kerkhof, Karin van Zieten, Bruna’s assistant, Irene Bruna (wife),via an intermediary (Mercis CEO). The text was approved by Serk Bruna (son). Ingman visited Bruna’s studio interviewing the, the curator (Stijn van Grol) viewing unseen artwork, artist’s roughs, private archives (unpublished artifacts,personal possessions, correspondence) and recreated his working processes, interrogating the trial-and-error methodology, uncovering how he developed the distinctive black line, colour, layout, text, revealing the simple complexity and control Bruna had on his unique individual artwork.


This research unlocks new insights into Bruna’s artistic inspirations, tools and precision working methods and how he dealt with the challenge of working to a commission and illustrating a narrative. New material showing Bruna as a social activist and environmentalist,shifts the perception of his work beyond children’s books. The text, with approximately 100 illustration, examines the book jackets Bruna designed between 1951 and 1969, he designed more than two thousand covers. Many of the covers had never been published before. 

Original languageEnglish
PublisherThames and Hudson
Number of pages112
ISBN (Print)9780500094136
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 May 2020


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