The Ietswaart project

Expect the unexpected: a new monograph by Dutch Type’s Jan Middendorp. The dark star in this firmament will be Boudewijn Ietswaart — the brilliant yet obscure Dutch lettering artist, typographer and illustrator who remained unknown in his Netherlands. Why did that happen? He was that Wandering Dutchman who created his most interesting work in Mexico City, Caracas, and Barcelona. Boudewijn died December 23, 2010 — just a year after he had been honoured with a major exhibition during the global ATypI conference 2009 in Mexico City.

Our project will focus on his opus of letterforms and lettering combined with graphic illustrations — a few hundred hand-lettered and illustrated book covers, logos, and hundreds of sketches, all in his splendid archive supervised and documented by his daughter Anna Ietswaart in Amsterdam.

Ietwaart and his context

Ietswaart was a virtuoso student, and did professional-looking work from Day 1. He meticulously archived his amazing sketches, book cover designs and experiments from those years. He was also quite frank when talking or writing about his background and influences — from his interests in ancient art to the lettering work by older contemporaries. Our book will include a generous selection of work by these artists and typographers, whom he admired, but whose work he often surpassed in precision and liveliness, without being very aware of it. Of course, the core of our publication will be the book and magazine covers he designed during his short stay in Mexico and for publishers in Barcelona, Amsterdam and elsewhere.

An important theme of our book will be the designer’s untiring aptitude in exploring the spectrum of options that each assignment brought — often by designing various miniature covers at match box size, sometimes painstakingly detailed.

More about Ietswaart’s world

Boudewijn’s designs, including hundreds of book cover sketches, seem to betray an obsession with meticulous drawing and professional pre-print. Yet in his younger years he was also restless. Having become fascinated by Latin American history and with the unique symbols and signs of the continent’s past, he travelled across Mexico and Southern America – “El Holandés Errante” was the title of the 2009 Mexican exhibition.

After his travels he worked briefly in Amsterdam, but then moved to Barcelona, and later to Caracas, Venezuela. Back again in Holland, weary of the endless discussions with visually simple-hearted clients, he abandoned lettering and typography and concentrated on illustrating educational books.

All of this will be covered in the forthcoming book – yet Ietswaart’s amazing lettering work will be its main theme.

Where are we now?

The project has been in and out of drawers for a few years, but we expect to release the book before the end of 2021. We are in dialogue with a renowned Dutch publisher. But subsidies for historical cultural projects in The Netherlands are now very hard to get. So we hope to make our dream come true with the help of letterform and illustration lovers that will join the crowdfunding campaign that we will start soon.

Want to be on the mailing list? Click here

Eye candy

A small selection of printed work and sketches from Ietswaart’s wandering workshop.

Shall we keep you posted?
Let us know!