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Thé Tjong-Khing

Thé Tjong-Khing (1933) is an illustrator who was born into a Chinese family in Purworedjo (Indonesia). Having spent 3 years studying at the Seni Rupa Art Academy in Bandung, in 1956 he moved to the Netherlands to continue his studies and soon joined Toonder Studio’s as a cartoonist. In the 1960s he started doing more book illustrations and eventually stopped drawing cartoon strips in order to work as a full-time illustrator, mostly of children’s books. During the course of his career he has illustrated more than 300 children’s books.

Over time his style, which was originally more naturalistic, became increasingly childlike, moving towards the gauche and naive. His later illustrations are more austere with very little detail. Thé Tjong-Khing frequently uses pen and ink and also works in pencil. His characters are so well depicted that everyone identifies with them. A wonderful combination of detailed and freestyle drawing makes his work extremely popular.

He won the Gouden Penseel [Golden Paintbrush] award (for the best illustration of a children’s book) 3 times, and in 2005 won both the Woutertje Pieterse Award and a Zilveren Penseel [Silver Paintbrush] award for his book Waar is de taart? [Where is the Cake?], his first entirely self-created picture book with no text. In 2010 he was awarded the Max Velthuijs Award by the P.C. Hooft Award Foundation for his complete oeuvre.
Eye Spy
The title of Thé Tjong-Khing’s Miffy statue is Eye Spy, inspired by the modern child, who seems to have less and less time to simply be a child. ‘This Miffy is very versatile. She is wearing a Google Glass and has an iPad, a smartphone and a smartwatch. She participates in The Voice Kids (hence the handheld microphone) and likes to dance disco in her sparkly shoes. She draws graffiti with her art paint spray can. Fortunately she also cares about nature, so she has green fingers. Her parents are always busy, so she has her own door key. But sometimes she finds it all a bit too much. Then she reaches for her dummy and her cuddly toy. And of course every so often she likes to eat an ice cream. She is concerned about the state of the world and hopes for peace (hence the V-sign pendent). She enjoys playing computer games (hence the white glare on her face and the square eyes). She is also good at sport (just look at her back). That's how she plans to travel the world.’