Harmen van Straaten (1958) is an illustrator and writer. He comes from a family of illustrators and always loved drawing. Yet he studied law in Leiden and then taught Law at the HEAO College in Amsterdam. Lack of fulfilment in his work led him to illustrate children’s books in his free time. A few years later he gave up his job as a teacher in order to work as an illustrator full time.
Harmen van Straaten often draws in watercolour, sketching contours with a pen or pencil. Some of his illustrations are done entirely in pen. His style is loose and humorous. To begin with, he illustrated stories and picture books published by others. Then he also started writing his own books. His books for children of all ages range from picture books for tiny tots to novels for 15-year-olds. He has since illustrated more than 400 books and written more than 50 books. His work is produced by various publishers in the Netherlands and published in translation in many other countries.
His illustrations for Een opa om nooit te vergeten [A grandpa never to be forgotten] attracted international acclaim: in 2002 he was presented with both the Golden Apple Award, the most prestigious international award for illustration, during the Bratislava Biennial of Illustrations, and the Sankei Shimbun Grand Prix Award in Japan. In 2013 he wrote the Dutch Children’s Book Week gift, Je bent Super … Jan! [You are Super … Jan!]
Volendammer nijntjeOf his Volendammer nijntje [Volendam Miffy] he says: ‘I think the traditional Volendam costume is second only to Miffy as the most quintessentially Dutch thing you can imagine. I also think the primary colours of the traditional costume suit Miffy down to the ground.’