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Maaike E Canne

Maaike E Canne

For me, Maaike E Canne of Rotterdam Holland is like two Artists in one. Her paintings all have this super thoughtful surreal quality to them, almost like there's a bigger riddle at play and each work is another clue. Yet her murals have this whimsical larger than life vibe that makes you feel like a small little kid tasting ice cream for the very first time. After stalking her IG @maaike_canne pretty religiously for over a month I needed to know more about the woman behind the work. 

And I have to say, out of all the Artists I've interviewed so far, Maaike's answers are the ones that surprised me the most. Less to do with any sort of a shock factor and more to do with the fact that she just has 0 filter. And as you'll come to find out I LOVE a woman with no filter. Her interview reads like a conversation between girlfriends, hidden nuggets of wealthy information throughout. You'll want to keep reading for a major dose of realness and fresh perspective on why Maaike thinks sharing your work (as it is right now) is the single most important key to success. 


Maaike Canne wallpainting / mural from Maaike Canne on Vimeo.

 Who is Maaike Canne? Where are you from? Where do you live now? How did you become the woman you are today?

I'm a 27 years old Illustrator/Artist born in a small city in the south of Holland. After high school, I went to school in Rotterdam for 4 years. This was my first taste of Rotterdam, that's where I live now. First I moved to Breda, a nice and green town where I went to art school and studied illustration. Almost all my friends are from Breda, so I still go there often. I had a great time there, a nice job and a very nice house where I lived together with friends. But because of the lack of art, culture, and music, I decided to move to the big city, Rotterdam. 

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with said medium or did it choose you?

I've been changing mediums quite a lot over the years. At art school, I used a lot of watercolor paints, pen, and collage. At this point, I mostly use pencil and gouache/acrylics paint when I make figurative work. I often use Photoshop as the final step in my work. That's where I do some touch-ups and coloring changes. For a project I'm working on right now about traditions in Japan I draw every illustration with a grey pencil and then do the coloring digitally. This allows me to try out a lot of different colors (and makes the colors very clean and bright) and still gives it the handmade feeling (which suits the subject). At this point, I'm still really enjoying analog media. The little mistakes, the way you make lines, the way you put pressure on the material, all these things are part of the feeling of the work. When I work digitally I do feel more of a distance to the work I'm making.

 Your work has such a surreal element to it? What inspires this?

I've heard this before, that there's a surreal element in my work but I'm not quite sure yet where this is coming from. But zooming out, I'm more interested in the layers beneath the first layers of reality, where reality becomes less rational and less conscious. Maybe that's also why I'm interested in the irrational parts of human behavior. For instance, the extremes in religion and the psychological differences we all have and how that can make us see the same thing while also seeing something completely different. I like that a work can be 'just pretty' at first sight but then also gives a bit of an awkward feeling. Like something isn't quite right or a hint that there's more than meets the eye. I like work where the viewer still feels some space to create their own reality.


How did you go from having a creative passion to turning it into a career? Be specific!

I've been carrying sketchbooks with me since I was around 13. In high school, I was trying out all kinds of different styles of clothing, more on the alternative side. There seemed to be a lot more subcultures around that time then there are now in the Netherlands. There are so many changes throughout these books, the way I was creating was really a reflection of how I felt and the style I was going for at that point. But throughout this search for identity, one thing stayed the same. The desire to create/draw. So in high school, I knew I wanted this to be my career somehow. At this point I didn't know I could and would become a freelance Illustrator, but I wanted to make art for a living. That was the only job I could think of that would make me happy. By the time it all became more clear what I was getting myself into It obviously wasn't just this romantic idea of just making whatever you want and getting money for it of course.

 What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?

I'm just going to shed some light on one thing that I think is important when entering the art industry in 2018. I don't understand the art world, and I probably never will. But what I do feel is very important to become a successful illustrator these days is make good work and show your work. At first, this can be quite scary and you will feel that the work you've shown a minute ago would now be a lot better if you did this and this. And that is a good thing, it means your work gets better.
Always look for improvements but don't wait for some kind of eureka moment where you think you're now making the work you want to make, so now you can share this. Your work is never finished, so don't wait, show people your journey, keep your eyes open and keep getting better!

What do you know for sure?

Things won't go the way you want them to go by sitting on the couch. Red cabbage becomes blue cabbage when you throw it in the sink, whether you like it or not. Male ducks are often involved in gang rapes, that's why the private parts of the female ducks are evolving to defend themselves. It's quite interesting, look it up. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a female artist to date? What are some of the biggest mistakes you've made and how did you overcome them?

Looking back, I think I could have gotten more out of studying 4 years of graphic design in Rotterdam (the school before art school). Instead of trying hard to figure out what It was I wanted to do in the art world I was hanging out with friends and designing things that I knew the school would like and get me the degree. I didn't take this school seriously at all. It's also part of the age I guess, feeling like you're working on things for the school, instead of doing it for yourself. But then I studied illustration in Breda and everything started to come together.

 How do you stay motivated? What does your daily routine look like?

When I wake up the first thing I do is make coffee, put on clothes and go to my studio. My brain starts working the moment I wake up so I'm quite energetic and productive in the morning actually. I start by checking e-mail, scrolling on social media, maybe a youtube video of something that interests me or something funny to get me in a good mood.

After some coffees, I eat breakfast, most of the time yogurt with granola and blueberries. I have a nice, bright, organized studio in the room next to my living room. It motivates me to keep the living space separated from the workspace. Although I should definitely leave the house more often on a working day. I sometimes forget how nice it can be to take a walk and get some fresh air. Looking at other peoples work, keeping my own work organized and looking at it once in a while, staying up to date with the world of illustration, learning about famous artists. It's all motivating, but mostly I just have the desire to get better each day.


Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. Could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.

For a while now I've been really into 'walking around' the streets of Google maps. Whether it is the poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles or the pretty streets of Kyoto, Japan. The way other people live, the architecture, the colors, it's definitely inspiring my work at the moment.

Japan has also been inspiring me for some years now. I've never been, although sometimes I feel like I have because of google street view... I love it because of its mix of ancient culture with modernization. Japanese traditions and culture are visible in all parts of life. For instance, in the way houses are built, social behaviors, traditions, clothes.. you name it, there's probably an interesting reason behind it.


What are your future plans for your work? Where do you see yourself going 1,3,5 years from now and how do you plan to get there?

I want to be a full-time Illustrator, make commissioned work as well as making autonomous works. I also still see myself working on a bigger scale, like painting murals. I hope my webshop is growing and that I've had more exhibitions. I'm planning to get there by continuing to get better, making a lot of work and showing it! By that time, hopefully, I've been to Japan as well.

To learn more about Maaike  please visit and if you'd like to buy her work please visit 


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