Interview with Teun van Heerebeek, WatchesAndPencils.com

Teun van Heerebeek is a Dutch illustrator and artist. He’s also a watch lover and collector. Three years ago, he decided to combine his two interests: watches and art.

Teun is very active on SocialMedia and collaborates with Fratello Watches.

 

Who is Teun van Heerebeek?

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A creative mind with a strong drive to express via visual communication. I have a Bachelor’s degree in design and am especially interested in illustrations and comics. I always try to connect matters in a creative way. In 2015 I successfully turned my two passions into one: watches and art. The idea was launched on Fratellowatches.com and I have been the creative team member ever since. Monthly I launch a new episode/ illustration and we are already heading to episode 40…

Your favourite hobbies?

  1. Reading comic books. For fun, ideas and inspiration. I’m not a die-hard collector of Marvel comics or something like that. I just buy the ones to which I’m visually attracted. But, I have to say, I do like TinTin very much. It is more or less based on the same style in which I draw: Ligne Claire.
  2. Be busy with watches in some way
  3. Playing old skool games
  4. Food and friends

Your favourite daily channels through which you keep informed about watch industry and community…?

  • Fratello Watches, my home for watches and experts. I also love other blogs, but I cannot keep track of them day to day.
  • Friends on several social media channels, especially Instagram. As soon as something new or remarkable hits the internet you can be certain that it will be reposted in some way. Yeah, I’m a bit lazy and let others do this kind of scouting :)

 

What is WatchesAndPencils.com?

I received a lot of requests for prints of the illustrations. At some point I decided that Watches & Pencils needed a dedicated site with more background info, prints and a portfolio. Not with mass produced products, but with prints personally printed and signed by me (WatchesAndPencils.com).

 

How did you start WatchesAndPencils.com?

Most has been summarized in above answers. The biggest motivation was to express myself in a unique way within the world of watches that didn’t exist back then. Of course I had some problems along the way. Especially when I started with the signed prints the colors were not correct. From day to day friends and fans keep me motivated. To put things into perspective, I do everything alongside my full time day job as frontend/UX developer.

 

What is your opinion about “blogging, videoblogging and microinfluencers ecosystem” impacting on watch industry?

I do like the fact that everyone is very active in the field and that the crowd of (video) reporters is still growing. But, what I don’t like is that everybody is chasing, liking and reporting the same highlights. Nobody is interested in the same content over and over. It would be good if we try to develop our own vision and style a bit more. Less caring about money and group pressure / popularity. It is our task as reporters / artists to bring you true original and authentic opinions and news. Exploring is so fun! 


How do you imagine WatchesAndPencils.com in the future? Evolution or next steps…

Actually, I’m quite convinced I pushed things to the max lately. I did some big collaborations with international brands, I got a solid webshop and I experienced great times with the Fratello Watches team (e.g. the Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Limited Edition). I do want to continue like things are going at the moment. I simply do not have time for more… In terms of goals I always dreamt of my own hardcover book with all the illustrations so far. So hopefully I can release a quality book in upcoming years which will become a standard on every watch collectors’ bookshelf. Another collaboration with an established watch brand would also be great :)

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What do you think about eCommerce on brand new watches (like is doing Hodinkee) and keeping the editorial independence of reviews and brand content? eCommerce vs. Content?

Independence is very important. Again, as soon as everything is related to sales/ecommerce the true opinions, stories and personal touches will disappear.  They will be chained/controlled by commercial motivation and filtering. Sales are good and keep the engine going, but ecommerce cannot run smoothly without independent reviews and content.


How is you creative process? Inspiration, creation, deliveries to the customers, distribution on SocialMedia,…

 

a. Often it starts with one of the following things:

 i.    Comic book inspiration

 ii.   Reading a watch article

 iii.  During a GTG with watch friends

 iv.  Just by accident

b.     Then I put the idea on the to-do list in a few lines. Yes, I keep track of all ideas. I cannot create them all at once and the list is several pages long and still growing (e.g. new ideas or requests).

c.     I start sketching. Old skool sketches with pencils (hence, Watches & Pencils). Although these sketches are very quick and basic, they form the foundation for the fine tuned and more detailed digital illustration.

d.     The digitalisation with lines start. I roughly trace the lines of the analog drawing with my Wacom drawing tablet in Adobe Illustrator. All my illustrations become lossless vector graphics in the end.

e.     After I completed and optimized all the lines the base coloring starts. I use a custom bright and vibrant predefined color palette. This forms the base for all the colors and slightly adjusted colors. Contrast is very important, because my works are mainly distributed on digital devices.

f.      The light source is introduced and I determine where I will put shadows and highlights. No tools are used for this, I intrinsically decide and draw these elements which make the whole illustration more three-dimensional.

g.     After some fine tuning sessions the piece is completed and ready to be published online. When I want to create a print or other product from the illustration this process involves some extra steps to create the optimal end result (for example, color adjustments).


Any relevant profile or recommendation you can share with us?

I do not want to mention particular persons, but I do follow people that have a distinctive taste in watches and art. I also like to follow people that create unique watch related pictures with atypical backgrounds. So no standard wrist shots, but a bit more creativity involved.

 

I think that this illustration is really AWSOME!!!!! And I think it is a clear summary of the Watch Industry (brands and big holdings) in this recent years. No immagination, no creativity, no risk, vintage style, With no soul and only easy business. Are you agree? What do you think?

Haha, of course I agree, I created the piece to show my opinion in a creative way. I have true respect for brands that dare to be different. Knowing the road ahead  will be more difficult than releasing just another look-a-like. Time to start something new! Maybe still keep old favorites in the collection, but that’s ok.

 

What was your first watch that started the love for Watches or that started the spark?

For me this was an blue Oris Divers with a kettle case. It was my first automatic watch.


Do you have a collection of watches?

Yes, less than 10 pieces and mostly toolwatches in the category form-follows-function. I do like dress watches, but I don’t have appropriate enough occasions to wear them. The funny thing about my collection is that I co-created and earned 50% of my watches. All pieces have a personal story.


Do you have any Holy Grail you are still looking for it?

No, I have acquired my grail two years ago: a pre-moon Omega Speedmaster with reference number 145.012-67.

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Your favourite Brands? And Models?

Some models I like, without going into very specific reference numbers:

  • Omega Speedmaster
  • Audemars Piquet Royal Oak Jumbo
  • Smaller sized Panerai watches, as base model as possible
  • Other vintage sport chronographs


Some favorite watch or model that you will never get rid of?

Again all of them. They all have a special story. Of course, unless I go broke.

 

At Andhora.com we have a large worldwide community of Stopwatch collectors: What do you think of the Stopwatches collectors?

It’s a niche, but I like the typical aspects and the strong focus on creating a piece to measure time as good and comfortable as can be. For example, most stopwatches are actually being used or are used, while most chronograph watches not time a serious sport event in their entire life.

 

Can be Stopwatches complementary to watch collection??

Absolutely.

 

Are the stopwatches the great unknown and forgotten of watch collection?

I don’t know, but as said, they might have a more interesting story than most of the chronograph watches..


How do you see the relationship between the current watch industry and the vintage watch?

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I think the resources of the past can give enough input and inspiration to the current watch industry. But the focus is too much on the past. I think it’s time to really focus on developing a next track besides the track of tributes. A track with true new starting points. New designs and ideas.

 

Do you think the industry is focusing ON the strategy of SmartWatches?

No, SmartWatches are another league. Mechanical watches, their history and scene cannot be replaced by SmartWatches.
 

What do you think about the relationship between Millennials (young segment of population) and mechanical watches?

That’s a difficult question. Around me I see a lot of focus on digital devices by Millennials. They follow trends. I do believe that vintage (watches) will always be in the trend loop. Maybe with a short intermezzo of a few years now and then.

 

Do you think the watch industry needs to connect with the young target or remain focused on tradition, luxury,…?

Online is the medium for the younger fans. But I see a lot of brands taking this serious and upgrade their online experience and shops. A good thing and I think this trend will expand upcoming years. For me it’s super important that watch shops will remain in existence. This is the way to experience true luxury and tradition. This cannot be replicated in a website, no matter how expensive the device and particular website are. You need to be able to strap it up!

 

What do you think about the strategy of Brand concentration in global luxury holdings like LVMH, SwatchGroup, Richemont,…?

Like I said, they are anticipating on the world which is still heading to more online experiences.


What do you think about social networks and microinfluencers. Are they important for the whole watch industry? (and for the whole watch ecosystem)

Yes, they keep the scene alive. It’s important to have these people. They are willing to ventilate opinions and arrange things like get-togethers.


Do you think Illustrations is an alternative and effective way to engage with watch lovers, buyers and collectors?

Absolutely! As we all know, there are different communication forms. I strongly believe people are more engaged when things are presented/ discussed in creative and fun ways.

 

What would you tell to Watch Brands and their Marketing executives about illustration like yours in their Marketing, Communications and SocialMedia campaigns?

 UNDONE Watches collaboration (More info:  https://www.undone.com/watch/details/watchesandpencils )

UNDONE Watches collaboration (More info: https://www.undone.com/watch/details/watchesandpencils)

As mentioned before, it’s a unique way to communicate. I can make 100% tailor made illustrations with your brand / watch as subject. With or without humour and exactly highlight the parts that you as a marketeer think is important to put focus on. More info: www.watchesandpencils.com :)

 

I love illustrators like Jordi Labanda, Norman Rockwell or Christophe Niemann. Who are your artistic references? Or artists have marked your work and path.

I have many artists I admire. My biggest fan and the one who really marked my path is probably my mother. Unfortunately she died a few years ago. She teached me the essential skills and always motivated me to develop my style and skills. My grandma is also an artist. There are also non-related people who inspire me. Some for their drawing style, others for their colors or composition. Georges Prosper Remi (known as Hergé) and Piet Parra are two examples. They find things important that I also put a lot of effort in:

  • Clear and strong lines
  • Display objects and subjects with as little lines and colors as necessary. Background is less important and therefore gets less details than the watch for example. Sometimes I draw certain parts several times from scratch. I see it as a challenge to make things as recognizable as possible and only display the characteristic lines.
  • I always match colors very carefully
  • The shadows and highlights are applied so as to put the most important details in the spotlight
  • The whole scenery needs to be interesting, dynamic and well proportioned.

 

Your 5 illustrations that you are most proud of? Why?

I have several illustrations I’m proud of. To name a few in particular:

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  • Rolex Submarine(r) - maybe the biggest icon to date. I still do like the shape of the submarine very much.
  • Speedmaster NASA tests - with just a few lines I was able to transform the legendary Speedmaster into a rocket.
  • IWC pilot airplane - one of my latest pieces - this is a piece to showcase my capabilities and technical skills. For example to blend three watches and their lugs seamlessly into the engines of an airplane. It also reminds me of the nostalgic mock-up screens of old games where you had to wait for the game to load. The mountains, although simple, create a lot of depth in the piece.
  • Deskdive - one of the most simple illustrations from a technical perspective, but a favorite among my friends and fans. This underlines the fact that not every drawing has to be complex as long as the message / humorous aspect is clear and strong.

 

Andhora.com is a small blog in spanish done by vintage wristwatch and stopwatch lovers & collectors, with a growing community of friends and followers in Spain and Latin America.

What would be your best advise for Andhora.com in order to keep growing and become a true reference?

First of all, Happy Birthday!!!!

Keep authentic, bring true news and try to set up features. Also, involve the watch loving crowd into your platform and maybe organize a GTG once a year. I think you’re quite unique with the stop watches and think this should stay one of the cornerstones.