Helen B

Belgian Helen Blanchaert makes ‘all sorts of stuff’. Among other things she makes incredibly cute, illustrated china, which she sells via her Etsy shop.

Helen, can you tell us a little about yourself?
“My name is Helen, I’m 38 and I live with my boyfriend and ‘the two Stellas’. We both have a daughter from a previous relationship and they’re both called Stella. I have always been very creative and I went to art school. But I wasn’t creative enough to make it there so I trained as a social worker instead. I work part-time as a social worker and I counsel asylum seekers. I’ve only lately started to draw again. My mum died of cancer recently and while I was spending a lot of time with her in the hospital I made drawings that I showed her. The more I practised, the better I got. My mum really liked my drawings and my style, she gave me some pointers as well. Drawing also really helped me to cope with my grief.”

How did you develop your current style?
“I like pure, simple illustrations. I prefer working with India ink and a little pen. For me there’s a challenge in saying it all with a simple line drawing. I don’t take myself too seriously, you can tell from my drawings. I started drawing bearded men because I have one at home. But I’m also inspired by the cute bearded guys I see in the coffee bar ‘Clouds in My Coffee’ in Ghent. One day I came home from having a cup of coffee and drew ‘Venice man’. In the end I drew loads of bearded men and the cutest ones ended up on coffee cups.”

You describe your work as ‘Helen makes all sorts of stuff’. What do you mean?
“Just all sorts of stuff! I also make lamps using colored electricity wire or postcards, which¬† I finish with my sewing machine or using screen printing. I like photography, I make collages and I keep a blog about the stuff I get up to every day.¬† I just really like creating stuff. When I’m happy, it means it’s good. Even better when other people like it!”