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  • Marit TörnqvistNetherlands ⋆ Illustrator
  • Taylor Kraayenbrink

"Light has undoubtedly been very important to me—I am always looking for ways to emphasize the atmosphere by using contrasts and colored light. A realistic image in an unrealistic light results in poetry."

Marit Törnqvist

Marit Törnqvist was born in Sweden in 1964 to a Dutch mother and a Swedish father. When she was five years old, her family moved to the Netherlands. She studied illustration at the Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie in Amsterdam. Since 1988, Törnqvist has worked as an illustrator of children's literature. In 2006, she received the Gouden Penseel (Golden Pencil Award) for her unsettling illustrations accompanying Toon Tellegen's disquieting fairy tale Pikkuhenki. Although this is the most prestigious award that Tornqvist has won, she is also well known and appreciated for illustrations that offer a sense of familiarity and consolation. Her style might be described best as post-impressionistic.

When Törnqvist was twenty-three, she began a long and fruitful working relationship with the prestigious children's author Astrid Lindgren. One of the culminating accomplishments of this relationship is Junibacken, a theme-house in Stockholm based on Lindgren's writing. Törnqvist's dual nationality comes through in her illustrations, expressed by a dichotomous body of work. Her illustrations for Swedish books are generally pastoral, and her Dutch work is more urban. All of her work weaves a sense of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times with a darker thread of ambivalence.

Törnqvist is known for her selectivity when taking on new projects. She has remained deliberately aloof from the mainstream illustrating industry, arguing that taking on too many projects at once can result in less empathetic art—illustrative work that is less in tune with the work of the author. It can take Törnqvist two to three years to complete illustrations for one book, as she takes accepted commissions very seriously. Törnqvist is reserved about her own work, and often ends up discarding numerous drawings and sketches before she completes one that she is satisfied with. Besides working on texts for other authors, Törnqvist also both writes and illustrates her own stories on occasion.

Selected Bibliography

Bellen blazen in Burundi [Blowing Bubbles in Burundi]. Written and illustrated by Marit Tornqvist. Amsterdam: Querido, 2007. Print.
De rode vogel [The Red Bird]. Text Astrid Lindgren. Amsterdam: Hoogland & Van Klaveren, 2012. Print.
Ik blijf altijd bij je [I Always Stay with You]. Text Sjoerd Kuyper. Amsterdam: Querido, 2008. Print.
In Schemerland [In Twilight Country]. Text Astrid Lindgren. Amsterdam: Querido, 2007. Print.
Pikkuhenki. Text Toon Tellegen. Amsterdam: Querido's Uitgeverij, 2005. Print. [End Page 39]


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