Growing up in a creative family – her father was an architect, her mother a visual artist – Anne Stijnen was raised on a diet of art and aesthetics. The crayon in her childhood hand was busy from an early age in the visual playground of her upbringing, filling sheet after sheet with the hiding spots of her imagination. It awakened the artist inside. Like parent, like daughter: regardless of her tender age, Anne’s work has already been shown at art exhibitions and performances in galleries and museums in the southern cities of Valkenburg and Maastricht.
After secondary school, Anne decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and study architecture. But, as a student at the art academy in Maastricht, she was soon confronted with the restrictive nature of the profession: the effect of these palpable limitations started gaining momentum until they felt stronger than the wish to become an architect. Anne wanted to be ‘free’, without knowing which form that need should take; it was to take a more tangible shape in her work somewhat later down the line. After mulling over it for some time, Anne chose to follow her instinct and changed to a study in graphic design.
As a third-year student, Anne discovered a new love: the art and technique of typography; ironically, an art form governed by rules and codes, written and unwritten – precisely what she had fled in architecture. Her free-spirited nature sought out those restrictions in letters and script, exploring the boundaries of tension between recognition on one hand and transformation on the other. By juxtaposing letters and extracting them from their usual context, she afforded them new semantics and form.
The new art form became second nature for Anne. She immersed herself in the art of type design, lettering and printing, discovering its aesthetic value in the process. She followed masterclasses, including one in Arabic calligraphy, to expand her knowledge and work beyond the familiar Roman alphabet. It was part of a call to explore new combinations that liberate and break paradigmatic boundaries. Her captivation with the Japanese script was a natural step, an alphabet she was not familiar with but approached purely on the basis of form and beauty.