Monday, May 17, 2010

PENNY: post 5: Dick Bruna

"My father realised that for me to become a publisher in his firm would have been the end of the firm!"
Dick Bruna

Most famous for his 'Miffy' character,
Dick Bruna spent the first 30 years
of his life designing book covers.
Employed by his fathers publishing company,
Bruna created a niche for himself
when paperback pocketbooks became popular.

As the company, A.W.Bruna & Son, grew to have a bookstand at almost every Dutch railway station, Bruna's covers were seen by huge audiences and in time, became collectable items and trade marks of the company.

After leaving school early, Bruna took up internship in Utrecht, London and Paris. This allowed him the freedom to explore the cities' galleries and develop his love of art. During this time he was greatly influenced by Picasso, L├ęger, Matisse and Braque.
It was the influences of Matisse in particular which led him to the characteristic Bruna style. He focused on colourful yet flat compositions, keeping them as simple as possible.
He often used black and primary colours and much of his work was created with a pair of scissors rather than a paintbrush.

His early work was designing book covers for the 'Black Bear' or 'Zwarte Beertjes' pocketbooks, a series of detective stories which included authors Leslie Charteris, Georges Simenon and Havank. He read every story and designed each author a recognisable icon which created a collectable series.

"This poster is a typical example of Bruna's sense of humor. He shows a lion and tells the viewer that it is better to take a little bear on vacation."

"A poster, he says, should be readable at a glance. It should work by hitting you in the face. But a poster must also be humane and, if at all possible, friendly."

Bruna's later work was greatly influenced by the De Stijl Movement reflecting the movement's theory of colour and abstract shape.

Due to extremely simple lines, Bruna had to develop the expressions of his characters carefully, in the pursuit of a more simple, perfect form, he could spend an entire day and draw hundreds of experiments.
After an initial publishing failure, Bruna's childrens books have sold 85 million copies, which have been translated into 40 languages.

Even though Dick Bruna is one of the more famous illustrators and designers of modern times, he remains an unassuming man dedicated to his craft and his family
"Every day he rises at 5 or 5.30, squeezes a glass of orange juice for his wife, Irene, and draws her a picture about things she has done, or reminders of things she is planning to do. He cycles along the Utrecht canals and goes to a cafe for a coffee."


  1. simple yet so effective and extremely popular, wonder if this is because Miffy is easy on the eye with no real hidden message.

  2. enjoyable post love his minimalist use of colour and line

  3. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. Graphic Design