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June 17, 2019

5 years Volkshotel with illustrator Gijs Kast


If you know about Volkshotel, chances are you’ve seen his work. Illustrator Gijs Kast has been (and still is) a defining figure in the creation of the Volkshotel style. From the staircase murals to our website’s homepage, his signature seeps through this entire building. On our 5th birthday, we look back on Gijs’ work in and around the hotel.

Before we dive into all the stuff you’ve created for Volkshotel, tell us a little about yourself…

“I’m Gijs, a 35 year old illustrator from town called Weert in the south of The Netherlands. I moved to Eindhoven and studied at the Design Academy. Right after my graduation, I went to Amsterdam and started working as an illustrator pretty much straight away.”

How did you and Volkshotel cross paths?

“I was working as an illustrator for mainly newspapers when interior architect Bas van Tol asked me to join a team of creatives to kickstart a new creative hotel in Amsterdam, which would later become Volkshotel. At first I was a little surprised I was asked as a drawer, between designers and architects. But it worked, we really fed off each others ideas and energies. Together we created a book, sort of the bible of Volkshotel, where the manifest and the identity was penned down.”

Any idea why your drawing style fits well with Volkshotel?

“I draw things the way they are. I don’t make things look better or prettier. I think Volkshotel also has that sober characteristic. Besides that I’m a newspaper illustrator, so automatically I was drawn to Volkshotels background. This used to be the building of Volkskrant, a large newspaper and coincidentally one of my employers. It really inspires me to think about the old editors who walked these floors, who’s job was so important in a time before internet and social media. That’s why I made some illustrations combining the old and the new function of the building.”

Talk us through some of your favorite things you made in Volkshotel…

Photo: Debbie Trouerbach

‘How about painting the blinds in the meeting rooms?”, someone said during one of our creative get together. And I thought: Why not? I made 3 portraits and projected them op de blinds and started working. I like how the drawings are almost like a surprise, you can only see them when the blinds are shut.

When I  was asked to make the header for, I drew something quite quickly. Looking back I didn’t really realize that it was going to be the first thing people saw when looking up Volkshotel. But I guess I did a good job, because it’s still on the homepage today!

I started making portrait of people who work in Volkshotel a couple of years ago. It’s a nice to have a collection of all the faces inside this building. In the gift shop, you will find a tshirts with some of the portraits I made.

It took me around 6 months to finish the illustration on the entire staircase (header photo). A huge project. It’s was so much fun to work on his. Because I usually work on a small scale and Volkshotel gave me the space – literally – to expand.

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