Interview with cartoonist Joost Swarte

Bob Knetzger alerted me to a Comics Journal interview with Joost Swarte, who I mentioned last week because he has a new book called, Is That All There Is? Bob says: "Very interesting interview with Joost Swarte. Didn't know he studied industrial design and that he does lots more than comics… and that he coined the term clear line.'"

From David Peniston's introduction to the interview:

Where Le Corbusier is better known for his architecture than for his paintings, collages and drawings, Swarte has moved in the opposite direction, making a name for himself first as a cartoonist and illustrator and in more recent years branching into architectural work and stained-glass widows, even creating furniture and fonts. He has worked with architects on the design of the Toneelschuur Theater in Haarlem and is a major consultant and contributor to the design of the Herge Museum in Belgium. Swarte founded Stripdagen, a biennial international comics festival in Haarlem, in 1990 and has himself been the subject of many exhibitions, including the World Exposition of Joost Swarte, which has traveled throughout Europe. I had Swarte’s home phone number from my contact in Germany, a comics dealer named ebi wilke. So one Monday morning in February, I pick up the phone and place an international call to a number in the Netherlands — in Haarlem to be precise. I tell the woman who answers, “I’m looking for Joost Swarte,” and after a short pause, a low but confident, friendly, male voice, with a slight Dutch accent announces, “Joost Swarte.” (pronounced Yost Svarta). I come straight to the point: “Can I interview you? Would now be a good time?””

“You mean now, over the phone?“ he asks incredulously.

“Well, yes, I guess so …” So I get started. My first question stumps him and he doesn’t know what to say at first. He has to think about it for a while before he says anything and then he proceeds to answer my question in no less than 741 words. He is very articulate, well versed in art, architecture and the history of industrial design, as well as music and comics. And, I might add, he speaks fluent English.

The Joost Swarte Interview



  1. As I live in Haarlem, I frequently go and see plays and movies in the Toneelschuur theatre that was based on Joost Swarte’s designs. Excellent ambiance and the bar area looks like it’s taken straight out of one of his books (which it probably is).

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