July 15, 2016

Illustrator the things we are portrays Syr

written by: Martijn van de Zuidwind

Syr Gif 06 Joost-2

Joost Stokhof works as an illustrator under the name of ‘the things we are’. Shortly after the first plans of Syr, Joost became involved in the project. ‘When I heard about Syr, I thought: what a great idea, getting to know new people in a relaxed way while enjoying new flavors. The concept is simple, it is strange that something like this didn’t already exist in Utrecht. That is the sign of a great idea. The refugee situation is something I feel very involved in. This way I can contribute with something I’m good at.’

And what this illustrator does best is visualizing an idea on paper. He worked on the animation for the crowdfunding video and made illustrations for the merchandise.

‘I didn’t want to fall in to the clichés of fraternization, but I did go looking for a certain symbolism. One of the designs is a peace pigeon. Usually you see a graceful, white peace dove with an olive branch. But that has something sublime, as a kind of grand, unattainable ideal. That’s why I drew a city pigeon with parsley in its beak. I also used elements of the Syrian culture. Therefore, I asked the Syrians in our team what is typically Syrian to them. The standard image of the Netherlands is wooden shoes and tulips, but that is not what most Dutch people think of when they think of their country. For instance, they mentioned a teapot as something that fits the typical scene of Damascus, there is a real tea culture there. I also depicted a Syrian string instrument: the oed.’

It was the first time the illustrator had a conversation with a Syrian. ‘Even though we live in a big city, there is not a lot of diversity in my group of friends. In art school you see a lot of the same type of people, and it’s comfortable to stay in your own circle. That is why Syr is such a great initiative: you will be able to make contact with other cultures easily.’

You can check out the merchandise with the illustrations of the things we are here. They are available in our restaurant.

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