This March, during the Basel watch fair, I had a brief run-in with Teun van Heerebeek, an illustration artist contributing to Fratellowatches blog. He cheerfully handed Scott and me a cool “Desk Diver” sticker which went on our MacBooks immediately. I promised to learn more about him and his artwork. I reconnected with Teun last week over Instagram where he posted a hilarious cartoon of Mayweather-McGregor fight. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Teun.
BC: Tell me little bit about yourself and your background.
TVH: Coming from a creative Dutch family, I’ve inherited a creative brain. As long as I can remember, I’ve been drawing. When I was a child I switched back and forth between my Nintendo Entertainment System and the sketch dummy. My interest in terms of style is especially pointed towards cartoon and minimalist styles. Great examples for me are Dutch artist Pieter Janssen (a.k.a. Piet Parra) and Georges Prosper Remi Remi (a.k.a. Hergé), famous for TinTin strips. Over the years I created my own drawing style and managed to specialize in defining details and characteristics, whether it’s a watch or a portrait. While I was studying arts I developed the love for watches, mainly in terms of design and little details. In 2009 I completed my study and obtained a bachelor’s degree in arts.
BC: What inspired you to draw watch related illustrations?
TVH: The funny thing is that this also originates from my creative mind. As most of us, I have little time for all my passions. I tried to come up with a solution to combine my two passions (watches and art) into one. After a while a whole new concept came up: Watches and Pencils. Illustrations and watches combined! I presented the concept to Robert-Jan Broer, owner of watch blog Fratellowatches.com. He was interested in the original concept and together we launched it on Fratellowatches. It is still a very popular feature and every month a new cartoon is published.
BC: Are you a watch collector and enthusiast?
TVH: Definitely! I have no particular preference for new or vintage. It just depends on whether or not I like the design (philosophy). Last year I managed to buy my ‘holy grail’: a pre-moon Omega Speedmaster with reference 145.012-67 ST and the legendary 321 column wheel movement. Besides this I still love my daily beater: a Tudor Pelagos with reference 25500TN. Details are very important. Design elements like the Snowflake hour hand on the Pelagos and the drop tail seconds spear hand on the Speedy are what makes those watches stand out from the rest of the immense watch design landscape. The ‘inside’ or movement-aspect is a whole other aspect and I’m still discovering those yet uncovered grounds. I really appreciate the effort brands put in in-house movements. But, on the other side, I have a limited budget as an artist. My watches get serviced with a proper interval. Ergo, a ‘standard’ ETA 2824-2 is not always a bad choice to keep the bank accounts healthy.
BC: What are your favorite type of watches and specific models?
TVH: Form and function combined is what I really like. No over-the-top designs, but watches that are legible and stand out with certain details. The story behind the watch is also important, but not leading. If I need to define a specific type I would say my main interest is leaning towards sports and tool or utilitarian watches. Watch related designers I do like are Max Bill and Gérald Genta. Besides the models that are already in my collection I do have a ‘wish list’ like most of us watch lovers do. To name some: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo (reference 14802ST), Longines 13ZN, Heuer “Bund” 3H Chronograph (reference 1550SG), Seiko SRP777, Rolex Daytona (reference 116500), Mondaine Stop2Go (reference A5123035816SBB) and a classic Nomos Tangente.
BC: You use lot of humor and tongue-in-cheek style in your drawings. Why?
TVH: When I was studying arts I learned that humor is an important aspect in art. It’s a true powerful ‘weapon’. You do grab someone’s attention better when you manage to put a smile on someone’s face. Before I launched the Watches and Pencils feature I noticed the lack of humor on a lot of watch related (digital) places. Watches and Pencils is the ideal stage for me to tell, criticize or simply illustrate watch related matters with a humorous twist.
BC: Is this a hobby for you or do you see this materializing as a profession?
TVH: At the moment I’m still dreaming of a future with a job related to watches in combination with art. But, it’s a niche and only time will tell if I will succeed. I’m doing the best I can. Until then, I’ll just keep the illustrations and creative work coming.
Ever since I started with the illustrations I received a lot of requests for prints, stickers, etcetera. The number of requests grew every time I published new illustrations. This motivated me to set up a professional web shop where ‘Watch nerds’ can easily buy Watches and Pencils products such as prints and stickers. All products are mainly produced, checked and signed by me. I always produce small quantities. At the moment I’m offering the following products:
- Signed prints (click to view all the prints)
- Sticker packs (click to view all the stickers)
- Screensavers for your mobile phone (click to view all the screensavers)
BC: Do you also entertain requests from watch collectors for custom work?
TVH: If you’re looking for a custom creative work please contact me via watchesandpencils.com or my Instagram-channel (instagram.com/watchesandpencils). I would also like to hear from you if you have any ideas for future Watches and Pencils episodes!