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  Interview with hard//hoofd editor Anna Berkhof
Kwennie Cheng
posted on March 4, 2013 at 10:28

Many magazines and newspapers have created an online or app- version of themselves, but the amount of magazines created in a digital format from the start is increasing. Often, illustrations are placed next to the accompanying text, just like in the paper versions. But digitally published magazines give illustration so many more options to explore.

Dutch online magazine hard//hoofd is a perfect example of crossing these borders. Although it hasn’t been applied to many illustrations yet, they have made a start in using interactive illustrations to accompany their articles. Curious about their motives and ambitions, I interviewed hard//hoofd editor Anna Berkhof in her studio in Amsterdam.

So why did hard//hoofd start as an online magazine straight away – was it a conscious choice or did the crisis force the founders to do so?

Anna: It was a deliberate choice by the founders of hard//hoofd, because it's cheap and they felt that paper was at a dead end. Later, there was one hard//hoofd published on paper though. But that was the only one.

Aside from ‘traditional still images’ to accompany the text, there are also a few interactive illustrations for example Wenteling and Dear World, fuck off, ik ga golven (II) by Wijnand Veneberg. Was it the intention from the start to explore the boundaries of illustrations?

At first, the emphasis was mainly on text and traditional illustrations to accompany them. Since last year we have a deputy art director, Maartje Smits, who has for example been working on interactive illustrations for poetry. Besides this, we have a new chief editor since last summer, Jan Postma, who has more of a feel for images and is more active on this subject than his predecessor Rutger Lemm. So since about a year we have really started to develop a taste for the experiment in illustration.

Do you think people are actually waiting for the illustrations to move or be interactive? Do you think it will distract the reader from the text?

That depends on the quality of the illustration. Illustrations always need to be more than just decorative and if the quality is good, it will add to the reading experience, not distract from it.

Up until now, the interactive illustrations are only linked to poetry, not to topics on current events. Is there a specific reason or a personal choice?

Both. The art director is personally very interested in this combination, it just works very well. You can make a poem more vivid and I think people often find poems hard to read. An illustration like that could help to take in the content of the poem.

Another more practical reason is that it takes a lot of time to make an interactive illustration and we are willing to provide the artist or illustrator that time, because poems don’t have to be published immediately. An article for ‘Nieuws in Beeld’ (‘News in image’) on the other hand needs to be published as soon as possible which gives little time to produce an interactive or animated illustration. But we are definetely looking for illustrators and artists who have the skills to make interactive illustrations.

Marloes Toonen, editor of Video, published stop motion shorts on hard//hoofd with her face on current events. Is there a potential for illustrators to make shorts on current events?

That is a possibility, a good idea actually. I haven’t really thought about it that way, I’ve always seen interactive illustrations and video as seperate subjects. Marloes’ shorts are actually the only example of moving image on current events, but it could also be applied to ‘Nieuws in Beeld’. I’ll propose it to the editorial board.

How do you think this will develop and do you expect it to expand onto hard//hoofd?

I think we will start using more and more interactive images, especially for short texts and poetry. I'm not sure if it works well with a long text, but we might try and see.