• 02.12.16

This Greeting-Card Superstar Is Ditching Pen And Ink For The iPad Pro

For Leendert Jan Vis, digital art isn’t about perfection–it’s about spontaneity.

This Greeting-Card Superstar Is Ditching Pen And Ink For The iPad Pro
Leendert Jan Vis sketches on his iPad Pro


You probably don’t recognize the name of Dutch artist Leendert Jan Vis, but an awful lot of people enjoy his work every day. Over the past three decades, his cheerful and quirky animals have appeared on over 250 million greeting cards as well as in picture books, as stuffed animals, and on a variety of products.

Vis counts Hallmark among his publishers, though his cards aren’t available in the U.S. He’s stuck with pen and ink even as many artists have gone entirely digital by using a Mac or Windows PC with one of Wacom’s graphic tablets or Cintiq pen-enabled displays. But when he tried Apple’s iPad Pro tablet and Pencil stylus, he liked them so much he’s now using them exclusively.

What sold him on the iPad Pro? Pretty much the virtues you might expect, including the ability to work quickly without waiting for ink to dry, the availability of layers for breaking a drawing down into its component parts, and the ease of sharing, He uses Procreate, the iPad painting and drawing app with the most ambitious and customizable features for producing artwork using an array of natural-media art implements.

For Vis, expressiveness is more important than polish. “I love art that has the feel as if it is spontaneous and not completely overdone until it is perfect–which you won’t reach if you go for perfection,” he says. “It will lose the raw feeling. Which I think is very attractive.” It turned out that the iPad Pro and Pencil let him preserve that feel of spontaneity even more than his traditional tools did. “Nowadays, I don’t have to trace my first sketches or scan them. I work straight away on the iPad Pro, and it does the trick for me.”

Here are a couple of videos showing blank Procreate documents turning into nifty Valentine’s Day cards by Leendert Jan Vis:

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.