Saskia Janssen humorously illustrates the “things that people do to entertain themselves”

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Saskia’s work is observational and effortlessly funny. Utilising these moments from the everyday, she will seek out activities and events that make us truly human. For example, amidst the current pandemic, much of her work has navigated towards the theme of exercise, with scenes of YouTube home workouts playing key characters throughout. In others, there’s a queue of people greeting each other in their routinely morning visit to the store, while another sees a person dressed in a space suit holding groceries (loo roll included). For the latter, Saskia explains: “I was thinking about a solution to shop safely in this pandemic life. Spacesuits look very anonymous and I think this idea fits well with how people can feel in this world of social distancing.”

Additionally, Saskia pulls out an image of a girl taking 20 self-portraits. This is in fact a self-portrait of Saskia, “yes, that’s me”, and was produced after thinking about the things you can do when you’re bored and feeling alone. “Maybe I really should make these 20 self-portraits and put them on the fridge.”

Although seemingly joyous and in some ways mocking, it turns out that the illustrator’s work has a rather emotional response, too. She tells us how she often sells work in small local markets, and she will hear passersby laughing while taking a peek at her creations. “Most of the time, I also hear the word ‘cute’, but when they look a bit longer it also gives them a sad feeling. I like that my work is not only a joke or a cute picture, but it also has something melancholic about it.”

While the pandemic is the focus of much of her work at the moment, of course the current situation means that projects are put on hold for the time being. But this hasn’t stopped creatives from making work in their temporary lives of quarantine. Alongside continuing to work as a freelancer for various newspapers, Saskia plans to publish her own book one day, themed on something along the lines of “things I can draw” or “nice things you can do when you are alone and living in a pandemic.” Perhaps she’ll circle back to making short animations, which she used to enjoy during her art school years, or maybe she’ll even present a life drawing show on Instagram called How to draw a happy horse, “because I like drawing horses and I heard other illustrators find this difficult.”

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