Jan Van Haasteren is a Dutch comic book artist who started out creating comedic illustrations for a number of different newspapers & magazines, including for Toonder Studios, Goop Geesink & Erik en Opa.
'Baron van Tast' (produced between 1972 & 1975) is probably JVH’s best known comic work and featured in the comic magazine Pep of De Geïllustreerde Pers, but it’s likely that he is more famous for his large, crowded, drawings which have appeared on posters and more notably, jigsaw puzzles since 1980 following an approach from the Jumbo puzzle company. This later work is characterized by its mass of jokey, sometimes absurd, imagery.
Interestingly JVH had actually approached Jumbo several times with his earlier comic work, but they weren’t interested in featuring him until they received the first batch of his larger comic images. Obviously, they made quite the impression because Jumbo commissioned one of the images to be released as a puzzle immediately.
In 1983 it was decided that they would release a new JVH puzzle of his image “The Olympics”, which had initially been drawn for an advertising poster on behalf of Scan Decor. “Some Like It Hot” came next in 1986 which had been drawn for Colt International.
Jumbo were so enthusiastic over the success of these first 3 puzzles that there continued to be more releases, all based on existing prints for advertising purposes.
To date Jan Van Haasteren has created more than 100 images for Jumbo puzzles, with each new piece eagerly awaited by fans across the Globe. It is said that he works on each image for at least 2 weeks, first starting off with an A3 sketch and then once approved by Jumbo he paints the image at the exact puzzle size onto a canvas.
Most of his images contain a background joke from his 'Baron van Tast' comic, alongside shark fins, hands and eyes, portraits of Saint Nicholas and a cameo of the artist himself. They range anywhere in size from 150 to 5,000 puzzle pieces.
Puzzle piece featuring Jan Van Haasteren himself
In 2013 the Studio Jan Van Haasteren was created to secure the future production of JVH puzzles. Illustrators Dick Heins and Rob Derks were recruited to take on this work, with JVH in his 80’s its fair to say he is slowing down to retirement although they still create 3 unique images every year for Jumbo and he is very much involved in the brainstorming of each new idea, with him giving his initial approval to all of the images.
According to Jumbo, 40% of their puzzles are by Jan Van Haasteren, perhaps unsurprisingly given his thousands of followers and collectors throughout the World.