For more than 40 years, the great master, Jan van Haasteren, has been drawing puzzle plates for Jumbo with great love. Since 2012 Dick Heins and Rob Derks have been added to the ‘studio’ to ensure that the eternal hunger for new puzzles among the fans remains satisfied. Rob and Dick draw their own puzzle plates for the brand Jan van Haasteren. Because the fact that Jan has grown into a Brand is now inevitable. Although Jan himself sometimes finds it impossible to comprehend how many people all over the world put his puzzles together!
Jan van Haasteren
Jan started his drawing career in 1961 at the Toonder studios and he quickly grew into a well-known comic artist who has several comics to his name. His best known are Tinus Trotyl, Sjaak and uncle George and Erik and Grandpa. In 1977 Jan draws his first viewing plate for Bokma and from then on the commercial assignments poured in.
Jan van Haasteren’s first puzzles date back to 1975. He made a number of Popeye puzzles. Then he drew large advertising posters that led to the puzzles for Jumbo. Nowadays Jan draws three puzzles a year, for which he signed a contract for life in 2003. He can choose the subjects of his puzzles completely freely. The design and elaboration takes him about 3 months. Jan has his studio at home on the North Holland coast and besides drawing, tennis is a favorite activity.
Jan’s puzzles are immensely popular in the Netherlands, but popularity is also growing in the rest of the world. Through all the years, Jan has drawn more than 100 puzzle plates!
Dick Heins was born in The Hague in 1959 and grew up in Wassenaar. Nowadays he lives with his wife Cindy, stepson Danny and labrador Bing in Oosterhout. From an early age Dick was busy drawing, but when he saw the work of Jan van Haasteren he knew: I want this too. At the age of 19 he sought contact with his drawing hero and he taught him all kinds of tricks, such as coloring drawings with ecoline.
Dick then started his own ‘drawing studio’ and worked for various advertising agencies, puzzle magazine Bingo, children’s magazine Bobo, Eppo comic magazine and Junior Suske en Wiske. In the years that followed, he always kept in touch with Jan van Haasteren, who asked him in 2013 to come and draw for Studio Jan van Haasteren.
Puzzle plates of Dick can be recognized by a few striking figures, such as his father (unfortunately passed away in 2020) and his good friend Maurice, who is in a wheelchair. There is also always a pickpocket in his puzzle plates. His wife Cindy loves butterflies and that is why a butterfly often flutters through his images.
Where Jan and Rob work on one large sheet of paper, Dick prefers to work out his drawing on different sheets of paper in A3 format. He then puts them together on the computer. Dick does his coloring digitally and Jan and Rob both work with ecoline.
Rob and his colleagues made daily comics for the free train newspaper Metro. He also illustrates school books and children’s books and draws comics for companies and even T-shirts for bands.
Just like Dick Heins, Rob sought contact with Jan van Haasteren in his early years. He had just started Studio Noodweer and visited cartoonists to ask questions and see how they worked. With Jan in the attic room he became infected with the viewing plate virus. Jan also taught him the art of coloring with ecoline, which Rob still applies to his puzzle plates.
Rob always draws two men with a long beard in his puzzle plates, freely based on the band ZZ Top, of which he is a big fan. The blue trunk that often hangs over something also comes from Rob’s drawing pen. It is a character that will play a role in a children’s book that is still in the making. The chimney sweep and the mermaid have now disappeared from the puzzle plates, Rob accidentally forgot to add them. The blonde twins (from the Departure Hall) and the fighting women (from Shop Till You Drop), both taken from Jan’s puzzle plates, are still fixed.
Below you will find a number of frequently asked questions, to the artists:
How many records do you draw per year?
Each artist draws about 3 puzzle plates per year.
How long does it take you to draw 1 puzzle plate?
How long are you working ahead?
The artists work about 6 to 12 months ahead. So it is not surprising that a summer theme is drawn in the middle of winter. Or a Christmas record in the middle of summer.
How do the ideas for the puzzles come about?
Each artist has his own inspiration and can come up with ideas for new puzzles. Once a quarter the artists meet and in collaboration with Jumbo and Jan’s eldest daughter Saskia, the ideas are discussed. The best ideas are put on a wish list and then finally come to the turn to be drawn. There are always many more ideas than the artists have in a year to draw!
Do you show sketches and the end result to each other?
Yes! In any case, Jan and Saskia guide the artists and Jan must be completely satisfied with the record before it is taken further into production. But in addition, all 3 artists regularly share their work and the others can, for example, offer extra jokes.
What materials do you work with?
The sketch is drawn with pencil, then it is drawn over with East Indian ink and a crown pen and then it is colored in. Jan and Rob both colour manually with a brush and ecoline. Dick first makes a digital version of the inked plate and then colors it on the computer.
Do you puzzle yourself?
The artists have made all three of their hobby their work and do this with a lot of passion and dedication. In the few remaining hours they prefer to spend their time with their family, making music, walking the dog, or well… draw! Dick’s wife is a big Jan van Haasteren puzzle fan.
Is your question not listed? Ask the artists a question!
Do you have a question for Jan, Dick or Rob? We have already answered a number of frequently asked questions. Is your question not listed? You can ask him here!