Hundreds of thousands of people around the world enjoy the puzzles of Jan van Haasteren. Many millions of copies of the puzzles have been distributed . Each new image is eagerly awaited by fans.
But Jan Van Haasteren has not always drawn puzzles, He began his career at the advertising agency of Nijgh & Van Ditmar before joining the Marten Toonder studio in 1962. In 1966 he became a freelancer working with Joop Geesink. As a cartoonist, he created many stories for the comic magazines Perry, Pep, Donald Duck and later Eppo. In 1975 he co-founded the magazine Free Balloen whilst doing lots of advertising work and drawing illustrations for information leaflets and textbooks.
His reputation, for drawing puzzles, began in the eighties. Heineken approached him with a request to make a large comic picture for a puzzle to promote Bokma lemon gin. By the time the picture was finished, the advertising budget was gone and so instead they decided to make a poster. This was seen by the Swedish company, Scan Decor who gave him commissions for further great comic advertising posters.
Jumbo were aware of Jan van Haasteren because he had sometimes sent them some of his work but they were not greatly interested until they saw the larger comic images. They loved them so much that they decided to release one as a puzzle. The choice was made in 1983 for The Olympics, an advertising poster which was drawn on behalf of Scan Decor. Some Like It Hot succeeded in 1986 which was one that he had drawn for Colt International. Jumbo was enthusiastic and there were more releases, all based on existing prints for advertising purposes
"I choose the subject myself. Sometimes I draw an existing scene once again. Other things are completely new. I like to use jokes in my drawings. If I have not drawn anything crazy for a few weeks, I feel bad. It has always been that way and it still is now. I love to go on a razzle with such a picture. That takes a lot of time, but it's so fun to do..'
"How long do I work on a puzzle? Weeks ....... First I start with a sketch on A3 format in which I define the perspective and the main joke character. I'm going to fill it completely and I ink it. With such a sketch I am busy for two weeks for sure. For certain subjects, I do research on the topic by looking at pictures or taking pictures. It must be realistic, but in my own style. The plane is my plane, just as the cow is my cow. If the sketch is approved by Jumbo - and they always are - I make that sketch on my canvas but to the size of the puzzles. Then the old fashioned handiwork starts by neatly developing in pencil, inking and colouring. In total, an image takes about two months to finish. "
"No, I do not really do anything besides the puzzles. Three of those huge drawings each year I nowadays find enough. I sometimes make a little illustration for a local association or so, but no more assignments. "
"In 2013 it was decided to launch the Studio Jan van Haasteren to ensure the future production of puzzles. Illustrators Dick Heins and Rob Derks were recruited for that. We meet regularly to brainstorm and come up with the jokes.
Sometimes an existing print is further developed, but also a lot of new work is drawn. I'm always the first to give my approval to the image. Because the agreement is to draw in my style. And the shark fin is certainly one of the jokes. The shark fin comes from my comic Baron van Tast and was created in 1971 in the story Haaikloverij (a word play which sadly defies translation)"