The Big Draw Maastricht


On October the 9th, the Vrijthof was transformed into a beautiful canvas, kicking off The Big Draw Maastricht festival. Amongst the chalk-drawn angel wings, the elderly experimenting with graffiti and the children doodling, Iris Dingelstad - organiser and communications director of The Big Draw Maastricht - granted us an intimate interview.

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Can you introduce to us what The Big Draw Maastricht is?


The Big Draw Maastricht is part of the world’s largest drawing festival. This international phenomenon was founded in London to celebrate the power of visual literacy. It aims to develop the skill of drawing. Anyone can sign up to get a licence and organise a drawing activity in their own city! I think there are twenty-six countries involved this year. It started as an idea for children, but has now expanded to emerging and professional artists.

(If you’d like to learn more: www.thebigdraw.org)

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got Maastricht involved in The Big Draw?


Two years ago, I graduated with an Event Management degree. Last year, I worked for an organisation focusing on sustainability and nature, which got me in touch with the faculty at Hogeschool Zuid. There, I facilitated events that allowed young artists to develop their own workshops about sustainability and nature. This year, I wanted to size up. I’ve been working as a freelancer, and The Big Draw Maastricht is one of my projects. So I brought together some people I’d worked with previously and invited some students and recent graduates to come together for this great collaboration.
I think Maastricht is full of creative people, we just needed something like The Big Draw Maastricht to bring them all together! As a facilitator, I love being able to bring people together and see the magic reveal itself.

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So, why drawing?

Drawing is like an umbrella. You could be a designer, an architect or an engineer, but you all share one thing in common: Drawing. Personally, drawing was really important when I was younger. But then puberty hit, and life hit, and I started studying and travelling and just didn’t have time to draw anymore. Now that i’m back in the field again, I realise how much drawing effected me as a child, and still even now, which is why I think it’s really important to develop it as a skill. Drawing inspires people to think. Think about the buildings around us; the chair you’re sitting on; your surrounding environment. It’s not just for children or professionals, drawing is for everyone. The Big Draw Maastricht invites you to be an active participant, to become culturally engaged.

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What has been your greatest challenge so far?


Focus.
When you have so many people passionate about the project, and full of great ideas, you have to be really careful to not lose focus. To maintain the integrity of your goal, you have to decide who can and cannot be involved, which events can be held, how much time, energy and money can be invested. Sometimes, you have to be the bad cop; the step-mother. That was my great personal challenge.

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Which event this month are you looking forward to the most?


On October 29th we’ll have the Finale for The Big Draw Maastricht. We want to invite all who have been creatively active this month to donate a piece of their own artwork. This way everyone can see what they have accomplished by getting creative and having fun. And with this beautiful collection, we’ll hold an Art Swap. We invite you all to join!
(To check out what other events are being held this month: http://www.thebigdrawmaastricht.com/ programma/partner-events/)

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Who are the other artists involved?


I’m the overall organiser of The Big Draw Maastricht, but we have several activities this month, and each individual activity is under the responsibility of one young artist.
One artist I’d really like to point out is Marie van Vollenhoven. Marie is a local drawer, she makes amazing artworks by combining drawing with theatre, 3D graphics, lighting, etc. She does all sorts of crazy stuff! This year she was our chosen artist for all the flyers and promotion posters, and next year we’ll choose another artist we love.
Also, if you take ‘The Big Window Walk’ tour around Maastricht (up until the 9th of October) you can see the work of many other artists involved. Twenty-four artists had the opportunity to use the city as their canvas, drawing their art over the windows of Maastricht. This is great for the artists, because people would walk past whilst they were drawing and ask for their card because they loved their work. That is exactly what we’re aiming for; that is what we love. When I graduated two years ago, no one was willing to hire me because I lacked experience. So that’s what I wanted to do with The Big Draw Maastricht: give other youngsters working in the creative field an opportunity to showcase their own talents and build up their own resumes.

What is your vision for the future of The Big Draw Maastricht?


The most important goal for the future is to become more sustainable. We want to build sustainable relationships, so that in the future we can invite cultural institutes and student associations to host events of their own. That’s the big question: How can we challenge the city? How can we challenge the people of Maastricht? As a local or international student, cultural institution or school, how can you contribute to creating the biggest, greatest drawing festival?

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Interview by: Pauline lei de Backker and Michaela Oxley