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Harrie Geelen

Harrie Geelen (1939) is an illustrator, painter, (television) film maker and fugue composer. He also writes lyrics, scripts and children’s books. He studied Dutch at the University of Amsterdam, but packed it in after a couple of years. In 1964 he joined Joop Geesink's Dollywood film production company, where he worked as a storyboard artist and scriptwriter. In 1967 he started working for Toonder Studio’s, an animation and comic strip studio, where over the next 35 years he served as copywriter, commercial artist, director and creative director. While working for Toonder Studio’s, he wrote for television and theatre and made illustrations for books in his free time.

His work is tremendously diverse and he has his own very distinctive style. He writes entirely according to his own dictates, without conforming to prevailing conventions. His artistic work is whimsical, imaginative and exuberant. In the 1970s Harrie Geelen was famous as a songwriter and television script writer and produced the scripts for Oebele, Q&Q 1 and 2 and Kunt u mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen, mijnheer [Do you know the way to Hamelin, Sir?] among other programmes. He also translated the scripts of several Disney films and the animated series featuring characters from the Beatrix Potter books and directed the dubbing. In addition to illustrating his own books, he has also illustrated almost all of the books written by his wife, Imme Dros (for Bijna jarig [It’s nearly my birthday] they were jointly awarded the Woutertje Pieterse Award). In 2004 he also started publishing stories for adults.

Harrie Geelen has been writing lyrics for Frank Groothof’s theatre productions for 20 years. In 2012 he wrote the script for the stage version of Kees de Jongen [Kees the Boy]. He produced several feature films and a 13-part television series with a small crew using very simple computers. His work has won many awards including a Gouden Kalf [Golden Calf] Award (documentary), a Gouden Harp [Golden Harp] Award (scripts for Dutch music), a Gouden Camera [Golden Camera] Award (direction of a documentary), a Zilveren Leeuw [Silver Lion] Award (commercial), various Zilveren Griffel [Silver Slate Pencil] Awards (text of a children’s book) and Zilveren and Gouden Penseel [Silver and Golden Paintbrush] Awards (illustration of children’s books). The most recent retrospective exhibition of his work was held at WG Kunst in Amsterdam in 2014. His own books and picture books he has illustrated have been published in various countries.
nijntjes vogeltjes
His statue, nijntjes vogeltjes [Miffy’s Little Birds] is inspired by his own Vogeltjesboom [Little Bird Tree] paintings. ‘I wanted to create a cheerful and lighthearted Miffy. I think the little birds are perfect companions for Miffy.’