In the summer of 2018 I came across an eye-catching Loesje poster in the city center of Rotterdam. I was struck by its powerful brightly red illustration and its positive caption: ‘To say what you think, can also be something nice’.
I wondered who had created the image. I found out that this was a drawing by Xaviera Altena, my former neighbour. I discovered more of her work and I was so impressed by it that I asked her if she wanted to design the cover of One-way Trip To Mars, two weeks before the book would be printed. She agreed and I am more than happy with the result. Less than a month later we presented the first copy to artist and visionary Daan Roosegaarde who also showed his admiration for Altena’s catchy design.
Altena is inspired by contemporary popular culture. Using pastel pink, bright yellow and sky blue, her illustrations express incredible joy and freshness. She has developed a style that encompasses bold linework, poppy colours and sparse details. Xaviera Altena uses contemporary issues and news stories in her work, combining them with pop culture influences.
Throughout her work she tackles themes like feminism, social movements, politics and every-day life. Fruity shades like raspberry pinks and lemon yellows add joy and freshness to her work. Her clean linework brings everything together and she has a consistent drawing style: communicative with a touch of humour, Altena even manages to make a half-eaten banana, a can of pop and bumbag look new and exciting.
Xaviera’s illustrations are bold, fun, colourful and they have rough, black lines. They are like a meeting between grafitti and comics. Her personal work with titles such as ‘Woke up like this’, ‘New Shoes’ or ‘Beach Please’ reveal her interest for today’s culture, in particular the female part of it. Her characters like showing off their femininity while being fierce, educated, strong and independent at the same time. Xaviera Altena’s work is colourful, positive and funny.
Born in Rotterdam in 1991, she has always wanted to be an illustrator. ‘I graduated from art school in 2012 where I studied illustration with a minor in photography. Since I was 10, I knew I wanted to be an illustrator. I have always wanted to make the world more positive and beautiful.’
Find out more about her work: