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Maarten Wolterink Interview

Maarten Wolterink - Maarten Wolterink Interview

Maarten Wolterink

Maarten Wolterink is a Dutch cartoonist. He was born in 1964 in Leiderdorp, The Netherlands. He was good at drawing while he was a kid and he decided to cling to this talent. He took art lessons at the secondary school and four years at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, to become an independent cartoonist. His pen name is mwcartoons.


How/where did you learn to draw?

Like most people, I learned to draw at school, and I was pretty good at it. That kept me motivated to develop the skill even more. I went to the academy of arts in Rotterdam and after a few years doing only designer work I changed to being a full-time cartoonist.

When did you decide that you want to become a cartoonist and why? How long have you been working as an artist?

The change from designer to cartoonist took place in 1992. There were two reasons. First, I wasn’t a super designer. My work was moderate, not good, not bad. Secondly, there was no real significance in the design. The design was often just part of a greater project; therefore it was rather anonymous.
So, I became a cartoonist. Almost thirty years now.

Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

What was the first cartoon that gave you recognition? And when?

That was a cartoon about Egypt. The fight between religious and secular people. That was in 2013

Who are the favorite cartoonists from your country?

Jos Collignon, Tom Janssen, Hein de Kort.

Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

Name three artists/cartoonists/caricaturists you are inspired by? How have they inspired you?

Will Eisner, wonderful black and white in The Spirit. Hergé, the stories of Tufty (TinTin). Hermann, the comics of Comanche and Jeremiah. He is so good in a filming approach, drawing scenes from nice angles.

Tell us about you and your artwork? Which genres of cartoons do you like to draw?

I mostly draw cartoons on politics, events in the world. But also cartoons on daily life, things like how hard it can be to open a jar. I love to do illustrations for children’s books. I also do live cartoons, making a few jokes an hour on the topics that people in the meeting discussed.

Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

Did you ever get threatened or bullied because of your cartoon?

Yes, but not physically, mostly verbally. When entering the world of social media one can aspect direct reactions to one’s work. Sometimes that’s demotivating but I have a strong belief in myself and my experience.

Do you think political cartoons or caricatures should be regardless of depicting any biases?

Biases are good. They make it spicier and challenging. But I do sometimes make a cartoon that only states the sadness of a situation in a neutral way.

Can the Profession of a cartoonist bring enough financial stability along with fame?

I’ve managed for 30 years now albeit with the help of partners who had a ‘real job. Fame is hard to get by. There’s a lot of competition and often even fame is relatively small. Formula 1 races are famous, but do I know one name of a driver? No, I am not interested. I’ve built up a name through the years, a reputation that keeps people coming back. That suffices. I couldn’t work on ‘fame’ for years because I had too much work to do.


Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

From your point of view, what are the social liabilities of a cartoonist?

Liabilities or responsibilities? I think a cartoonist is there to ease the pain with humor. But not before mentioning his or her opinion in a strong graphic way.

What do you think about Toons Mag? Are you interested to use Toons Mag as your cartoon publishing platform?

Toons Mag is a nice tool to find cartoons on matters you like. For me maybe a way to get my work published in other media.

Why should anyone choose the cartoon as a Profession? Any suggestions that you would like to share with our new cartoonist/artist?

Look around you, see what’s there. And then find your style, using the qualities you have. Not being able to draw well does not mean you cannot be a cartoonist. Don’t forget that most jokes are made of words only. The drawing just makes it funnier. Create a world around that so-called disability. Your world, your humor.

Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

Do you think that more and more exhibitions should be arranged for promising new artists all over the world?

No. I think we are already overwhelmed with exhibitions. Too much exposure. We all want to hit the jackpot but there’s a lot of graphic screaming involved. Better would be people paying for cartoons. It’s all too much payment in ways like ‘A lot of people will see your cartoon on our website’ or ‘I can also ask a friend who draws very well. Real work deserves real money.

What is the biggest achievement you think that you earned in your career?

That would be those nearly thirty years I manage without asking my government for financial help.

Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink
Cartoon by © Maarten Wolterink

The difference that you want to see in the cartoons 10 years from now on?

Photos are being used more often, even when it concerns portraits. I have little respect for that, but it can help to give a nice touch to a scene. Also, we have a new competitive league in memes. Memes often display not much more than a cartoon would do. You don’t have to have drawing qualities, so the group is huge. And there’s a lot of humor to it, I must admit.
But the question was what I want to see in ten years. I want to see more cartoons carrying the news on websites and in newspapers. Also, there should be much more cartoons present in learning materials.

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Find out more about Maarten Wolterink at @maartenwolterink, Linkedin, Website

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Written by Arifur Rahman

Cartoonist, Animator, Illustrator, and Publisher of Toons Mag.

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