sábado, 18 de febrero de 2017

Dick Bruna

Dick Bruna

(1927 - 2017)

Dick Bruna lived and worked in Utrecht for most of his life. His books have been translated into more than 50 languages and have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. His illustrations also feature on a wide range of other products. Over the past 60 years, three generations have grown up with Miffy and her friends.

his life

Dick Bruna was born in Utrecht on 23 August 1927 as Hendrikus Magdalenus Bruna, the son of Albert Willem Bruna and Johanna Clara Charlotte Erdbrink. His brother Frederik Hendrik Bruna was born in 1931. Dick's father was a publisher for A.W. Bruna & Zoon, the  company founded by his great-grandfather in 1868. Although it was decided that Dick would also join the family company, he managed to convince his father that he was not cut out to be a publisher. He subsequently joined A.W. Bruna & Zoon as a designer in 1951. Two years later, he married Irene de Jongh and the couple went on to have three children: Sierk (1954), Marc (1958) and Madelon (1961). (The first of Dick Bruna's six grandchildren was born in 1992.) In 1968, Dick stopped designing book covers and withdrew entirely from his father’s publishing company. His brother Frits worked for the company for many years. 

how it began

In 1943, during the Second World War, the Bruna family sought refuge in a house near the Loosdrechtse Plassen, a lake district in the heart of the Netherlands. Unable to go to school, Dick Bruna had to find a way to occupy himself all day long. It was here that he first began drawing and painting his natural surroundings. Sometimes the designers and illustrators who worked for his father’s publishing company would visit the Bruna residence. Some of them, including Rein van Looy, seized the opportunity to give the young artist a drawing lesson. After the war, Dick designed his first book cover for the book "Anne-Marie" by Arnold Clerx. He did not complete his final year at secondary school. Instead, he spent a year working in the Broese bookshop in Utrecht. His father subsequently arranged work placements for Dick at W.H. Smith booksellers in London and at the Plon publishing company in Paris, so that he could gain experience as a publisher. However, it became increasingly clear to Dick Bruna that he was not cut out to be a publisher. In Paris, he discovered artists such as Matisse and Léger, whose work inspired him to spend more and more time drawing. Having returned to the Netherlands in 1948, he enrolled at the Rijksakademie for fine art in Amsterdam, but did not feel at home and soon dropped out. Having taught himself what he needed to know, Dick joined A.W. Bruna & Zoon as a designer in 1951 and went on to create around 2,000 book covers and posters, mainly for the Black Bear pocket editions. He also designed posters and logos for clients such as the City of Utrecht, Het Groene Kruis (a maternity care organisation), and Veilig Verkeer Nederland (a road safety organisation). He began creating picture books in 1953, eventually publishing more than 120 in total. After he stopped designing book covers, Dick continued to produce new books and did a great deal of work for worthy causes such as UNICEF, the Aids Fund and the Netherlands Foundation for Children's Welfare Stamps. Until his retirement in the summer of 2011, Dick Bruna continued to cycle to work in his studio every day. 

“Take children seriously. Be as honest with them as they are with you.”

writer, illustrator, designer

Although Dick Bruna originally wanted to become a writer, he is known primarily for his drawings, illustrations and designs. When creating his books, he first envisaged the story in pictures, before writing the text. 

strength in simplicity

How did Dick Bruna’s work come to be so famous? Is it the bright colours? (There are other illustrators who use bright colours.) Or the convenient size of his books? (There are plenty of books designed for tiny hands.) Or is it his style of drawing, in which he leaves out everything that is superfluous and ends up with a very simple picture? (Eric Carle and many others have done this, too.) Dick Bruna’s success may be attributed to all these things: he produced small books full of simple illustrations in bright colours. But the most important thing is that the pictures themselves tell the story. His drawings are much like pictograms. When he draws a house, children all over the world recognise it as a house, when he draws an apple, they recognise it as an apple, and when he draws a dog, they recognise it as a dog. You could say that Dick Bruna’s drawings speak their own language – the universal language of pictures. By making small changes to these pictograms, he created an entirely new picture. By drawing Miffy with a single tear, for instance, everyone can see that Miffy is really sad. Similarly, slight adjustments of the mouth and eyes of his characters convince us that they are happy or sad or curious. So the real secret of Dick Bruna's work is that he does more with less. 

“I have a small talent and I have to work very hard to do something with it.”


Dick Bruna has always had a special bond with Utrecht, the city of his birth, where he worked and lived for most of his life. He still lives there, in fact, and his studio was just a stone’s throw from the city's famous Dom Cathedral. Over the years, Dick designed various posters and logos for the city, and in 1987 he was presented with the Lapel Pin of the City of Utrecht for "raising the city to new heights with his illustrious imagination". There is also a little Miffy square in Utrecht, with a bronze statue of Miffy created by Dick's son Marc. In 2006, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht opened the Dick Bruna House, which was recently renovated, reopening as the Miffy Museum in 2016. For his 70th birthday, Dick was presented with a collection of drawings by artists and illustrators from Utrecht, and the city marked his 80th birthday by decorating the streets of Utrecht with his colourful illustrations. In 2007, Dick Bruna was presented with a special Golden Lapel Pin of the city of Utrecht.

simply dick bruna

Before his retirement, Dick Bruna cycled to work in his studio every day. It wasn't uncommon to see him cycling alongside the city's canals. Even today, he enjoys cycling through his beloved Utrecht. He doesn’t look like a famous artist, but more like Miffy's grandfather: a bespectacled elderly gentleman with a friendly twinkle in his eye and a lovely white moustache. He is simply Dick Bruna. 

“For me happiness is cycling to my studio very early in the morning.”

See where Miffy was created!

Dick Bruna’s studio opens to the public in his home town of Utrecht

Fans of the children’s character, Miffy, can see where the white bunny came to life when a reconstruction of her Dutch creator’s studio opens to the public in Holland, tomorrow.
From 19 September 2015, Studio Dick Bruna will be a permanent exhibit at the Centraal Museum in his home town of Utrecht, the Netherlands, where it will serve as a backdrop for a changing selection of works from the graphic artist’s rich oeuvre.
The studio has been reassembled in an attic room at Centraal Museum, and is an exact replica of the nearby atelier in which Dick Bruna wrote and illustrated his children’s picture books during the last 30 years of his career.
He retired as an artist in 2011, having published 124 books, 33 of which feature Miffy, the character that made him a household name. Today, the Miffy stories are published in more than 50 languages.
Surrounded by personal memories, photos of memorable encounters, gifts from fans and letters from fellow artists, Dick Bruna worked in his studio every day, honing his distinctive style of illustration and typing out his stories. It was also a place where he where he relaxed while waiting for inspiration and where he entertained guests.

The interior of the reconstructed studio at the Centraal Museum has been reassembled with the original furniture: Dick Bruna’s drawing board, his desk and typewriter, and the library which includes every edition of all his published works. Every detail has been accurately recreated: the cards, the photos of friends, family and colleagues, the pencils, scissors and rulers lined up neatly on his drawing board, his personal stationery and, of course, his own work. There is even a place for the bike he rode through the streets of Utrecht on his daily journey to work. To visit the studio is to enter the world of Dick Bruna.
Display cases will show a changing selection of works from the Dick Bruna collection, which has been placed with the Centraal Museum on long-term loan. More than 7,000 works in the collection range from book covers for the Black Bear paperbacks to designs for humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross and, of course, his popular storybooks.
Dick Bruna started drawing and painting at a young age. He designed thousands of book covers and posters for the publishing company founded by his great-grandfather, A.W. Bruna & Zoon. He also produced many works on commission. While in Paris at the end of the 1940s he was inspired by artists such as Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger. This led him to develop his own distinct style, which is characterised by its simplicity, clarity and understated humour. He experimented with collage, simplification of line and blocks of colour. When designing book covers he worked freely, incorporating newspaper cuttings, photos and pieces of wrapping paper in his creative and original images. It was this same freedom that led him to create his first picture books in the 1950s.
No matter whether he was designing a book cover for one of the Havank paperbacks in the Zwarte Beertjes series, children’s books such as the apple or Miffy, a poster for the Dutch Dairy Board or a card for the World Peace Is Possible movement, Dick Bruna always managed to convey the essence of his subject matter through his simple clear design. Dutch design is characterised by simplicity and clarity. Dick Bruna’s work is consistent with this tradition. The elimination of all superfluous details, reducing the image to its most basic elements is the hallmark of his style.

60 Years of Miffy
The opening of Dick Bruna’s studio at the Centraal Museum in 2015 coincides with the 60th anniversary of the first appearance of Miffy, which is being celebrated throughout the year. Visit the official Miffy website for more information: www.miffy.com

Dick Bruna obituary

Creator of Miffy, the little rabbit who became a star of children’s literature

Julia Eccleshare

Friday 17 February 2017 15.41 GMT

Dick Bruna, the prolific Dutch illustrator and author, who has died aged 89, is best known as the creator of the iconic, minimalist figure of Nijntje, known in English as Miffy. Miffy first appeared in Dutch illustrated books for the very young, but now graces merchandise for every age group the world over, as well as greeting visitors to her home country from the walls of Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
Appearing first in 1955, in a picture book based on a story Bruna told his young son during a holiday, after they had seen a rabbit, Miffy is a simply drawn little bunny in a dress, shown only in outline, on a white page. Her house is white with scarlet shutters. Miffy remained unchanged in the many subsequent titles, although there is sometimes a scarf or hat, or outlines filled with a solid primary colour to show a change of outfit. Initially, and until the books were translated into English, the character was just a small rabbit; the gender was not defined. The most important feature of the books, Bruna said, was that “Miffy is always Miffy and a house is always a house”.

Even Miffy’s face remains apparently constant, with black dots of eyes and a cross of a mouth, although occasionally there is an addition, such as a tear. But, by an infinitesimal tilt of her head, shutting of her eyes or the position of her head in a room or a landscape, Bruna gave Miffy a full range of responses as she did all the things familiar to pre-school children, such as celebrating a birthday, going to the zoo, visiting a playground or going to the seaside.

Miffy’s life is stylised and idealised, and the jaunty tone of the rhyming couplets which map out the story that the illustrations tell so eloquently adds to the upbeat feel of the books, which are reassuring to children and adults alike. From the moment of her birth, heralded in the original Miffy title by the arrival of an angel just when the rabbit mother has thought what a nice thing it would be to cook for three, Miffy glides apparently effortlessly and gracefully through the always busy and sometimes tempestuous years of a toddler. In his stylistically cool illustrations, Bruna warmheartedly celebrated the apparently minor but nonetheless significant milestones of the very young by cleverly fusing visual sophistication with emotional simplicity.
Describing how he worked, Bruna said: “For a book of 12 pictures I make at least a hundred.” Each was drawn with a paintbrush specially trimmed by Bruna; as he got older, and despite the success of all his books, he said it got harder and harder to get the image exactly right. Miffy’s eyes and mouth were especially problematic: “That’s all you have. With two dots and a little cross I have to make her happy, or just a little bit happy, a little bit cross or a little bit sad – and I do it over and over again. There is a moment when I think yes, now she is really sad. I must keep her like that.”
Bruna was born in Utrecht, the son of Johanna Erdbrink and Albert Bruna, and the intention was that he should join the family publishing firm, AW Bruna & Zoon. But Bruna, having been sent to Paris and London to learn about publishing and bookselling, including a brief spell working for WH Smith, opted instead to train as a graphic designer. He had been a keen artist throughout his childhood, especially during the second world war years, when his family lived in the Dutch countryside and he did not go to school, educating himself instead by studying the art of Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
He studied briefly at art school in Amsterdam for six months before leaving to join the family firm in 1951. There he worked as a designer and illustrator, creating more than 100 posters and 2,000 book jackets, including, most famously and distinctively, the covers for Georges Simenon’s Maigret titles in the 1960s, with a black pipe superimposed on a variety of backgrounds.
Bruna’s first picture book, De Appel (The Apple), was published in Holland in 1953; in 1955 came the first two Miffy titles, Miffy and Miffy at the Zoo, and success swiftly followed. From 1963 onwards Bruna created all his books (and reissued his original Miffy titles) in what was to become their trademark small, square format. By now the father of three children, he had realised that the simpler and more direct you could make a book, the better, and that the smaller format was a more manageable size for the very young.
Miffy first appeared in English in 1964 in a UK edition and the title was published almost simultaneously across Europe and in Japan (where Miffy is Usako). Bruna’s other titles included a series of adventures about a little dog named Snuffy (Snuffie in the Dutch original), retellings of traditional tales and the I Can series of books. All of these retained Bruna’s distinctive style and palette, influenced by the work of Matisse and Picasso, which Bruna had discovered while in Paris, and by the graphic design of the De Stijl movement in Holland. His books had a European flavour, while managing to remain non-specific in terms of either time or place.

Dick Bruna’s style was influenced by Matisse, Picasso and the graphic design of the De Stijl movement.
 Dick Bruna’s style was influenced by Matisse, Picasso and the graphic design of the De Stijl movement. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Overall, Bruna wrote and illustrated more than 120 titles and sold more than 85 million books in more than 50 languages. His images, those of Miffy in particular, have found fame and influence well beyond their origins.
Bruna won many prizes, including the Golden Brush award for Boris Bear in 1990 and the Silver Slate for Dear Grandma Bunny in 1997. Bruna was especially fond and proud of the latter, the story of the death of Miffy’s grandmother. In 2016, he was awarded the Max Velthuijs prize, an oeuvre award for children’s book illustrators presented once every three years. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands also bestowed royal honours on Bruna. In 1983, he was made a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau and in 2001 a Knight Commander in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands.
The Miffy business, based in the Netherlands, became a huge international success. In 2006, for Miffy’s 50th birthday, she and Bruna were honoured by the setting up of the Dick Bruna Huis, a permanent collection of the artist’s work, in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht; the city is also home to a square named after Miffy and graced by a bronze statue of the rabbit, made by Bruna’s son Marc.
In 2016, the Dick Bruna Huis was developed into the Miffy Museum, catering specifically for children aged between two and six. Across the road, at the Centraal Museum, a true-to-life rendition of Bruna’s studio in the Jeruzalemstraat, where he worked every day for 30 years, opened in 2015.
Bruna married Irene de Jongh in 1953 and she remained his primary critic: Bruna created hundreds of sketches for each Miffy he drew and it was Irene who had the final say as to which books were good enough to go ahead. They continued to live in Utrecht, where Bruna worked well into his 80s. Despite his very great fame and wealth, he lived a simple and routine life entirely structured around his drawing.
He is survived by his wife, two sons, Sierk and Marc, daughter, Madelon, and six grandchildren.
 Dick (Hendrik Magdalenus) Bruna, artist and writer, born 23 August 1927; died 16 February 2017


118 Miffy books have been published to date.
10,000 products have been created by the 250 Miffy licensees throughout the world.
89 million Miffy picture books have been sold worldwide since her birth in 1955.
15.5cm is the length of each side of Bruna's Miffy books. They are designed to help small hands handle them.
2,000 The number of covers Dick Bruna designed for his father's publishing house.
5 The basic Bruna palette: red, blue, yellow, white and green.
£150 million Miffy's annual income.
1,200 works are currently on show at the dick bruna huis in Utrecht.
12 The number of pages in every Miffy book.

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