Drawing beastly – Rop van Mierlo’s Family Lab at Stedelijk

With its big reopening in September 2012, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has established a Family Lab in the heart of its new building. As “starting point, pit stop or chill-out zone”, the room is welcoming families and other visitors with children to take a rest, find activity cards about the museum’s collections or get creative themselves. The Lab is ever-changing and currently invited artist Rop van Mierlo to install a kind of a friendly bestiary with colorful stuffed birds, wildly melted crayons and drawing boards for the visiting future artists and explorers.

On the back wall of the room (which is always supervised by a museum guide to answer your questions) you can find a grid of paper clips serving as a clever inviting and self-explaining gallery for the visitors’ drawings.

The Dutch graphic designer is best known for his beautiful all ages picture books of animals painted on wet paper, a technique he remembered from his education at a Steiner school. “That type of school has a more sensitive approach,” he says. “We learnt to draw on wet paper so it was always about gradients and never straight or distinct lines. It was a really difficult technique and I never forgot about it, or that feeling of never quite knowing how an image would turn out. It is impossible to control.”

I am very happy that Rop took the time to answer some questions about his work and the Lab:

Dear Rop, I’m amazed by your paintings of tigers, bears, lions, donkeys and foxes. Where do you meet all the wild animals you paint? Most of them I meet on the internet, some of them in a book and others I shoot in the wild …

Wow, and you’re never afraid? I’m always afraid.

So, I am also fond of your Family Lab at Stedelijk, can you tell me about the idea behind it? Yes, my idea was to draw animals/birds without control, or less control. In this video I try to explain some more about what’s the idea.

The video is lovely! And because I am always so curious: what are you up next? Right now I’m making a music video for Amsterdam based dj and producer Young Marco. Release date somewhere this year.

This sounds exiting… thank you so much and all the best for 2016!


Stedelijk Family Lab images by Tomek Dersu Aaron. Find out more about the artist in this interview from 2011 and/ or follow his posts on Instagram.