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Meet David Habben, a remarkable illustrator and owner of


In a previous life before I graduated in Journalism, I majored in Fine and Graphic Arts. One of my biggest inspirations and arts was MC Escher, the Dutch graphic artist I admire for his mathematical and yet totally imaginarily driven illustrations.

It’s a rare to find an art that provokes such a deep sense of wonder, whilst transporting you to a parallel universe. The kind of art that makes you read and feel emotion through its strokes pen strokes and pressure.

It’s been a while since I felt that way. That’s until I discovered David Habben, the illustrator and owner of HABBENINK.

The introduction was quite humbling. HABBENINK got in touch with me, offering kind words to my blog, which is always an awesome feeling. In return I checked out who HABBENINK was, and discovered a talent that would be a crime to keep to myself. I love to art and I love to share it.

So I hope you enjoy my interview with David Habben, of HABBENINK.


What is HABBENINK, and how did you get behind that name?

My last name is Habben and when I was in high school I thought I’d brand myself as “Habben, Ink”. Of course, I didn’t realize I was “branding” then, but it sounded cool at the time. Eventually it morphed into “habbenink” and just kind of stuck. It’s almost become an alter ego for me.

Tell us about your journey into illustration?

I’ve always loved to draw and my mother is a librarian, so we were taught to really treasure books.

Being a talented and creative person herself, she always found the books with the best artwork as well. So, while I love to create art in many ways, illustration was ingrained as the way to really be an artist and create a career out of it. Now, I find myself trying to live in multiple art worlds and open my mind to other ways of being an artist, while still being true to my illustrative roots.

When was that point where you realised you had a special talent?

I don’t know if it was a realisation of talent (I’m still not sure about that), but I know that once I started my university education, I realised how much I really love art and how much I enjoyed creating it. Once the genie was out of the lamp, it did not want to go back in.


What/who are you most inspired by?

Wow, too many people to mention.

Anything from comics and graffiti to classical masters. The people that inspire my most are those that are willing to stand alone for something, whether that’s an artistic style or a cultural movement, and rise above the critics and the naysayers. I think of them when I’m starting a new series or putting up a show.

What software do you use primarily? and pick your favourite and why?

I’m pretty settled into the Adobe Creative Suite and primarily in Photoshop. I’ve been using it with a Wacom tablet for about 15 years, so its second nature to me now. One of the benefits of having used it so long is that I can become relaxed and casual with it enough to make mistakes and those mistakes have led to some new directions.

I think people assume that digital art has to be rigid and controlled, but that’s just because they aren’t as comfortable with it as they are with traditional tools.


Your mantra to life?

Don’t believe the hype.

What project would you like best to work on?

I’d love to work on something big and I mean really big.

It’s hard to draw really big and I tend to work fairly small anyway, so working on something giant would be an amazing opportunity to really get expressive and make a scene.


Graphic design in the future. Where do you think the industry is headed?

I think any artist or designer faced with that question will, at some point in their life, say that the industry is at a tipping point and we’re all going to self-destruct.

Really though, we’re evolving.

Illustration and design aren’t what they once were and maybe that’s a tough spot to be in, but we aren’t going to magically turn the ship around. We have to keep moving forward. So, with that in mind, I think the industry will continue to grow and evolve around, and with, the cultural needs.

What I would like to see, is a greater use of the creative freedom we have. With a few rare exceptions, most businesses are nervous to try new methods for fear of breaking out of a pattern of moderate success. I understand that, but I think designers and artists could do more to broaden our clients views and embolden their decision making.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to be with my family and friends and I love to be making something with them. Art, music, adventures. Anything with the people I love.

Your favourite food?

If you put anything tomato based in front of me, I’ll eat it. Spaghetti, pizza, salsa, salad. I’m kind of ridiculous that way.


Random fact about you

I shaved my balding head the day after I met my wife and kept it that way ever since. Luckily, she doesn’t remember my hair and likes me bald ;-)


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