If you've met our good friend Josselin Bijl at our Modern Handwriting Class this year, you would totally agree she's absolutely delightful! The talented Josselin juggles her time as a freelance creative, beauty editor at Amayzine.com and as a stylist.. and did we mention as an illustrator of a new book? Yes, Josselin was the creator of the beautiful illustrations for "Project Prep" and we can't be more thrilled for her! I mean, she got to meet and hand the first copy of it to Queen Máxima of Holland!
Despite her busy schedule (having tea with the Queen), she came over to teach a Bloesem Class in Singapore and showed us some of her illustrations in the new book. We've got to say, we are totally blown away! They're all so beautiful and cheery, really tickles our inner teen girl soul.. In fact, the book bears a positive message and serves as an inspiration to young girls everywhere, encouraging them to pick up technology. We second that! It's apparent that technology is increasingly integrated in our daily lives.. And I mean where would Bloesem be without it?
Josselin will be coming for another Modern Handwriting Class soon next year.. Based on experience it got sold out real fast, so hang around for the news! You have to meet her face to face, she's just such a joy to be around! In the meantime, we thought we'd share an interview we did with her for all you guys to get to know her better..
For our non-dutch readers, can you tell us in a nutshell what the book is about?
Josselin Bijl: "Project Prep is a novel that will expose countless girls and young women to the wonders of technology and the many opportunities it presents. The story’s main character Isabel emerges as a strong role model, immediately relatable as readers follow her on her own technological and entrepreneurial journey. So in a nutshell, the book is about fashion and technology because Isabel is going to make her own fashion app to solve daily high school outfit problems, and it will be a huge success story. It seems like technology is very boring, but Isabel shows us how technology is really fun and is a necessity for every creative profession.”
You guys covered all the important topics of a young girl in the book.. can you share with us where the inspiration for the book came from?
Josselin: “Janneke Niessen is the founder of the book. She’s a technology entrepreneur and is always looking out across the tech landscape to develop new things. In her opinion there aren’t enough women in technology. That’s the basic idea for the book. In the process of getting more women into technology, role models are crucial. The book centers on a young girl who decides to learn to code, build an app and start a company. In her journey she experiences all the excitement, challenges, successes and setbacks any technology entrepreneur faces. Throughout her journey she discovers just how magical working in technology can be – that amazing feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing an idea become a reality that you can actually touch and feel; that is embraced by others; and that is impacting their lives. Okay, it's a long story. But the founder of the book is Janneke and the author, Niki Smit, translated their ideas and experiences into a language that young girls can easily understand. I had the honour of creating all the illustrations in the book and make it more fun to look at and read the book. So the idea of the book is to engage and inspire 10-14 year old girls and young women with a relatable story. A story about them; highlighting how real, how exciting and how cool a career in technology can actually be.”
Snap shot from the book launch party
Looking back to yourself as a tween, would you have been able to relate to Isabel?
Josselin: “When I was a tween I think mobile telephones were just in stores and apps (on mobile phones) were just like magic, abracadabra. But yes, I can relate to Isabel. I was always looking for adventure, always looking for challenges and wanted to learn more and more. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I was very creative. Every day, I was drawing and fiddling with new stuff and I think I was kind of advanced for my age.”
How was it working with Janneke and Niki on the book?
Josselin: “It was very cool to work with Janneke and Niki on the book, because it was a whole new world for me. Janneke is a technology entrepreneur and Niki, an author, so we are all very different. That sounds very difficult, but it was really fun to learn from each other and be on the same level while having other experiences and knowledge. Niki knows the target group of young girls and all the lingo and funny words they use at that age. Janneke has all the experience in technology and I had the creative and media know-how to make it complete.”
What was the best or most fun part of making the book?
Josselin: “I really enjoyed all the brainstorming sessions, because everything was possible and there weren’t any boundaries. How about presenting the first book to Queen Máxima (Queen of Holland)? – Well, let's give it a try. How about make the book in full colour? Yeah, why not? That’s the coolest part of working with Janneke; everything is possible and she really thinks outside the box. For me a very enjoyable and fun part of making the book was making all the illustrations. I sat for hours, days, weeks behind my work desk to read the whole book and translate every chapter to several illustrations. Sometimes it was difficult, illustrating the subject of technology, but most of the times it was so cool to mix all the colours, make beautiful collages and enjoy the freedom in my creative process. It was so cool to translate the funny and exciting story into illustrations which will be the first thing you see when opening the book.”
Snap shot from the book launch party
Things have changed so much since we were younger, especially with technology advancing so quickly. Would you suggest the new generations to stay at the forefront of the technological changes? Why?
Josselin: “Definitely. Technology is very important for every profession. Even if it is a creative profession. Want to be a fashion designer? You need technology to make all the designs. Same story for jewelry designers, graphic designers but also teachers and marketing specialists. Technology is a hot topic nowadays, but I think it will grow and grow and we can’t avoid technology in the world anymore. It sounds very difficult to keep up to date and stay at the forefront, but there are so many cool apps and websites which will inform you. So, best of both worlds.”
What is your ultimate goal for the book? What would be a dream come true?
Josselin: “Well, I think one of the goals, I can already check off the list. It was such an honour to have met the Queen. We also sold 10.000 copies in one month (that’s a lot for a small country like Holland). But a real dream will be to go international and be a bestseller world-wide. Then I can introduce the book, the idea and of course my illustrations to a very broad public. Of course I’m dreaming about a film for the book.. and I will be in the lead. Haha, that’s a joke of course. But a film, with some illustrations in it will be really cool.”
Meeting Queen Máxima!
Congratulations on meeting the Queen, what an honour it must have been! How did you feel?
Josselin: “Oh my, I was so nervous. I knew about the event weeks before and was preparing for it every day up to the actual event. How to talk, how to sit, what to wear, what to do with my make-up and hair, how to smile, how to hold the cup of tea. Hundreds of thoughts running through my head. But the moment I saw the Queeen I forgot about everything because the rumors are true.. Queen Máxima is very pretty, very nice and very approachable. I didn’t say much, because the whole time I was staring with my mouth open.. but I enjoyed every single minute. And I’m still enjoying it.”
To all the young girls who have their hands on this book now, or will be reading it soon, what is something you would like to say to them?
Josselin: “Be creative. Read the book, and I hope to inspire someone with all of the enthusiasm I put into the illustrations. I hope everybody develops new ideas when they read the book. And really don’t forget to be creative. Everybody is creative, only on different levels, but nothing is wrong with that. Just do it and think big.”
We would love to see the english translation.. when can we expect that to hit a bookstore near us?
Josselin: “I hope really, really soon. We are working very hard on an English translation and hoping to see publishers in every country. Technology is world wide, creativity doesn’t know any boundaries and I think all the girls in the world need to know about this book. So, why not? I can’t give you an exact date, but hopefully at the end of the year everybody can see it under their Christmas tree.”
Image Credits: Josselin Bijl