Kareltje (Olidin #14, 1961)

Joost Rietveld was a Dutch illustrator, designer and author of children's stories. His designs have graced a great many advertisements, most notably for clients like Shell, FEBO, Van Houten and Albert Heijn. His illustrations have appeared in books, on postcards and in children's magazines like Olidin, Okki and Primo.

Rietveld was born in The Hague in 1931. He attended technical school, but a teacher recognized his talent and introduced him at the Hague Art Academy. He began his professional career working as a graphic designer for advertising agencies. For Van Maanen he worked on several projects for petrol company Shell. These included holiday booklets, illustrations and scale models for the magazine Shell en de Landbouw, and also contributions to Olidin, the comics magazine of the Shell Junior Club. During the early 1960s, Rietveld was a prominent illustrator in the latter, along with Joop Wiggers and a certain "hgd" (presumably Ton Hoogendoorn), while Jan Kruis, Jan van der Voo, Friso Henstra, Ted Mathijsen, Carol Voges, Emile Brumsteede, Chris Roodbeen and Dick Vlottes supplied Olidin with comic stories.


Illustrated text stories from Olidin

Rietveld's work was more poetic and aimed at the younger readers. His drawings illustrated fairy tales, text stories and short verses, which he also sometimes wrote. These included the serial 'Daaf Doef en het bosfeest' (issue 6 through 14 of 1962). Olidin ran Rietveld's poetic text comic 'Kareltje' from issue 14 of 1961 until issue 4 of 1962. It starred a little gnome, who undergoes adventures with Koos Krekel and his other animal friends in the forest.

Cover for Okki by Joost RietveldCover for Primo by Joost Rietveld

Rietveld moved to Amsterdam when Van Maanen transfered its operations to this city in 1961. However, he became a freelance artist eventually. During the 1960s and 1970s, he designed two sets of children's postcards for the health care foundation "De Opbouw", made illustrations for the publishing house Ploegsma and was present in Malmberg's pre-school magazines Primo and Okki. In Okki's seasonal books he presented an updated version of his earlier character 'Kareltje'. Rietveld's daughter Mirjam released a self-published book collection of these 'Kareltje' stories in 2016.


Rietveld's winning submission to the NRC contest of 1984 (NRC Handelsblad, 12 October 1984)

Rietveld continued to work in children's literature until at least the 1980s. He not only wrote and illustrated stories, but he also played with the form. In 1984 he won a children's literature contest held by newspaper NRC Handelsblad with a small box containing five illustrated stories in rhymme. It was subsequently collected in the compilation book called 'Stel je eens voor...' by the publishing house Ploegsma. He was the author of the pre-school picture book 'Het Boeven ABC', which was published in the shape of a house on the occasion of the "Children's Book Week" of 1986.

Advertisement for Van Houten by Joost Rietveld

Rietveld eventually returned to advertising, and had his own agency with Ronald de Haas for a while. By the 1980s he was employed by Veenhuizen in Amsterdam, and he spent the final years of his career working with De Haas again. He has designed advertisements for fast food chain Febo (the letters of the famous slogan "FEBO de lekkerste" are Rietveld's handwriting!), Tapiflex floors, the direct marketers ECI and Time Life, Van Houten chocolate, AHOLD (of the Albert Heijn supermarkets) and the chemical company Du Pont De Nemours. Joost Rietveld also provided the cover design for 'Strip voor Strip' (1970), the first Dutch reference book on comics by Kees Kousemaker, owner of comics shop Lambiek.


The cover of Kees Kousemaker's Strip voor Strip had a design by Joost Rietveld

Rietveld was furthermore active as a painter, poet and creator of spatial objects, with a strong fondness for nature. His personal works also had influences from the "freedom of the mind" lessons of spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Rietveld spent 40 years in Amsterdam, the final 15 on a housebout commune. He settled in Voorburg after the death of his wife in 2001, and lived there until his own passing in 2017. Joost Rietveld's children organized an overview exposition of his work in Zaandam in November 2017.

Series and books by Joost Rietveld in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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