If you're Dutch or living in the Netherlands, you most probably have seen some of his works sometime, somewhere unconsciously; Bram van Rijen, also known as Nozzman is a freelance graphic artist/illustrator/cartoonist and creative director at Mangrove in Rotterdam with Pop Surrealism genrea in his pocket.

Some of his clients are:
NRC Handelsblad,, Veronica Magazine, Moleskine, Erasmus University, NAi, ING, Zone 5300, Radio 538, Thieme Meulenhoff, Wolters Noordhoff, BNN, Wegener Nieuwsmedia, Ohra, KindaMuzik, Technisch Weekblad, Dutch Ministry of Justitie, Mangrove, Nationale Vereniging De Zonnebloem, NeonMob, Inspire Conference, Wakoopa.


Bram van Rijen

Looking back, Bram has always been creative as a kid, he has been drawing for as long as he can remember (telephone notebook was his creative canvas); however he really picked it up around 10 years ago then evolves until now.

How it started

As most artists, Bram started his artistic path at an art school (St. Joost in Breda) but decided to drop out because it was not commercial enough for him at that time. In the beginning he always wanted to reach the audience right away due to his curiousity to get feedback from the crowd, which was something he experienced and enjoyed for being in a band.

Sugar Factory
~ Sugar Factory in Amsterdam ~
Art school really forces you to broad your horizon but it was too much theory, too much in crowd.

As a change, he decided to jump into the field right away by putting his works online. At that time there was no serious competition online because most of the well known cartoonists did not have websites to represent their works yet; and not only that, they did not feel too comfortable sharing their works online due to copyright infringement. That period gave Bram a good breathing space to explore the online world; in fact, he got his first commercial client called DVD Valley (which is now called Film Valley) just approximately a year after.

Tiny Music
~ Album artwork for a compilation by a Rotterdam based initiative ~
I think my problem was because I was too young. I thought it was too much artful for art sake.

Intrigue by his story, I asked if he ever regretted not finishing his art degree. Admittedly, he has a minor regret to it; he would love to get the techniques down, to finish what he started and to see what would happen if he did (he acknowledges his passion is shifting throughout the years, he loves doing artsy projects more now than then). However, he still believes that what he is doing is actually a good balance for him. A perfect combination where art and commercial work are merged into a pleasure labour.


Regarding style, Bram realizes that it evolves throughout the years. "It used to be crocked and weird; anatomically incorrect. Like arms coming out of head. These days they are more curvy", he explained. I found his personal works on the drawing book are very interesting & more expressive; something that he does for fun as well as a good source of inspiration training which will be touched in the next section.


On the other hand, for client works he always keeps it fixed because it needs to be in the certain style the client had requested (particular comic style). They mostly have simplistic style because simple shapes help to tell stories.


Finding inspirations is never an issue for Bram; in fact, he is never not inspired. The only thing that could get in the way is laziness but that has nothing to do with an artist's active state. Finding the creative flow of an artist during the process of making art always interests me because each artist has their own flow, and these are for Bram:

Inspiration is overrated. It gives you an excuse to do nothing. The key is just get to it!
Drawing book
~ Drawing book artwork ~
  • Drawing book

    Drawing book is very precious to him; it is his escape to freak out on different styles and to force himself to not judge. He would start with a shape then constantly evolve to something totally free and even indescribable. This experience is important because it enforces him to try new stuff and not to limit himself to a specific style.

  • Travelling

    Bram loves to make travelling experiences as one of his inspiration sources. He suggested to go to several musea & (especially) not to forget to explore the local artists' exhibitions in city you're visiting. One of his favorite spots is Paris.

    Drawing book
    ~ Drawing book artwork ~
  • Books

    Bram doesn't really have a specific book that he would recommend to the readers, but his book tip is to "create your own book". Personally I find his suggestion is very simple yet easily forgotten by most artists, it appears that he would like to encourage other (upcoming) artists to start drawing and stop focusing too much on the theory.

  • Movies

    Movies (animations) can be something that spark up his creative mood. The details, passion, and storyline can easily motivate and inspire him to create art.

  • Collaborations

    Bram likes to collaborate with other fellow artists. The experience of creating shapes and reshaping on top of them can be a very good excercise for an artist's creativity. He gave an example of drawing on a canvas with several artists; lack of controlling shapes forces an artist to explore outside his/her comfort zone. This might be intimidating at first, but will be beneficial in the long run.

Exciting plans

Bram is currently working on some big commercial projects, but not allowed to reveal any informations about them. For his personal goal, he would like to develop more into painting and also focusing a bit to his personal works. He admits that he is been doing too much commissioned projects lately; it is time to get back to the fun of drawing and making cool stuff!

Passionately designed and written by I. Setiawan. All Images belong to Nozzman.