Ingrid Godon is a Flemish artist and book illustrator. Since the 1980s, she’s illustrated many books for adults and children, some of which have been translated into dozens of languages. Ingrid has won a large number of awards over the years, and has been nominated four times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA).
In this post, Ingrid talks about her working process, and she shares stunning illustrations from some of her books, including the ‘Ik Wou’ trilogy with words by Toon Tellegen, and ‘Dantesken’ which features over 600 pages of autonomous drawings. She also shares wonderful fabric sculptures, ceramics and textile art.
Visit Ingrid Godon’s website
Ingrid: When I was a child, I was always watching. From a distance. Who did what, and how they did it. I drew. Not what I saw, although I did store the images in my mind. One day, they would come out. Drawn. School didn’t work out, but I kept drawing. I met Rik Van den Brande, an illustrator and teacher, at the academy. He took me under his wing and I kept drawing. I soon got assignments as an illustrator. I was working! Drawing became my work.
Educational publishers gave me assignments. This led to the creation of ‘Nellie & Cezar’ in 1995, which, via an educational detour, turned into a short book which remains popular with toddlers and teachers to this day. It became a success in many versions, animated movies were made from it, and Nellie & Cezar became great puppets. And I kept drawing, especially for children.
I made ‘Waiting for Sailor’ in 2000, and took the initiative for a story of my own for the first time. My dear colleague André Sollie wrote my story and I drew. That was the start of an international story. The book won many awards, and was published in English, French, German and Korean.
Foreign publishers were now asking me to make books for them as well. Often the German, French, Swedish or English books were never even published in Dutch. I received more awards, and in 2020 I was longlisted for the ALMA for the fourth time.
Photography has played an important role in my life for a long time now. A series of photographs could grab me, and I could go to work with it. For instance, I became enthralled by the work of Belgian photographer Norbert Ghisoland. He made portraits of ordinary people in his studio in the Borinage, an industrial region, each of them dressed to the nines, but there is a great deal of misery behind the well-groomed facade. This became the foundation for my work which was mainly aimed at adults: IK WOU (I Wish). Toon Tellegen wrote the text for the first series of portraits for this book; 33 portraits of serious people. Dressed to the nines. I drew them.
IK WOU became a trilogy, with IK DENK (I Think) and IK MOET (I Must) as parts two and three.
The trilogy has been successful, not just in Belgium and The Netherlands, but also in the French and German-language regions. It also led to beautiful exhibitions, with a large exhibit in Frankfurt being the tentative highlight. In Cologne, I displayed the works from IK WOU in combination with the children’s portraits of August Sander in 2016. I WISH, the American edition of IK WOU, was published in the spring of 2020. At the end of 2020, its portraits were supposed to be in an exhibition at C.G. Boerner in New York City, but this was cancelled due to Covid-19.
2018 was an important year for me. For the first time, I made a book without a story. Unless the viewer finds a story in there, of course. DANTESKEN: over 600 pages of drawings, an explosion of what goes on in my head. For me as an artist – because that is how I finally started seeing myself as well – this was an important step. More than ever before, I realised the importance of entrusting the paper (or canvas or wood or printing press or clay or fabric) with lines and shapes. I can do no different. I keep drawing.
Recently, I started making little sculptures out of fabric: three-dimensional drawings, like puppets stepping out of my drawings.
I’ve also been working more and more with ceramics and textile art.
My work is becoming increasingly autonomous, and diverges more and more from merely illustrating. Drawings live lives of their own, become works in their own right, sometimes with a story, sometimes starting from a story, sometimes from nothing.
I have no style; I have the Ingrid Godon style. I’m continuously looking for the right way to tell my story, rustling around in my box of materials, alternating between pencil and paint, covering it with a paint roller, cutting into wood and printing it, scribbling on photographs. I keep searching.
I mainly draw people who – like me – look in all directions and are curious about what goes on in front of them. They sometimes look away, but they are always very present. I have at times – on request – drawn landscapes. But even then, I could not resist placing a person in the landscape here and there. Looking, like I do. I search continuously, take different paths, and keep looking. Full of wonder.
In the meantime, I keep working on commissions, I take the initiative to make books, I keep searching for the right pen line or brush stroke, the images keep flowing from my head, and I keep drawing. I draw and I draw.
Illustrations © Ingrid Godon. Post translated by Gengo and edited by dPICTUS.
Buy the English edition
Ik Wou / I Wish
Ingrid Godon & Toon Tellegen
Lannoo, Belgium, 2011
‘Pairs portraits with poetry to articulate wrenching individualism, yearning, humour, desires, and pathos. This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy.’ —Kirkus Reviews
‘Each face is round as the moon, with small shining eyes that sit curiously far apart… One boy wears a bellhop’s uniform; another, a red jersey and cap… By voicing the fears, angers, and secret desires of the figures, Tellegen spurs readers to embrace those of others, and their own.’ —Publishers Weekly
- Dutch: Lannoo
- English: Elsewhere Editions
- German: Mixtvision
- French: La joie de lire
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Här är vi / Here we are
Åsa Lind & Ingrid Godon
Lilla Piratförlaget, Sweden, 2017
What happens when we become us? And how do we look at them? Belonging and not belonging is the theme of this poetic picturebook. Åsa Lind is one of Sweden’s most loved authors, and Ingrid Godon is an award-winning Belgian illustrator. Together they have created an unforgettable story about us and them.
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MER / Borgerhoff & Lambrechts, Belgium, 2018
Who are the creatures that populate Ingrid Godon’s drawings? They are people, sure. But what is there of a person who only exists as an image? In this book we travel through the works of a gifted artist, illustrator and image maker.
Who will we meet? Who, or what, will we recognise? A book with 800 images which speak for themselves.