A couple of weeks after the official launch of Heren Loebas I met Stijn D’Hondt en Peter Vandesijpe in Ghent (Belgium). They are the designers of the LECHAPERON cards, but you’ll discover that these two guys do more than making beautiful cards.
Welcome to the smallest house in Ghent city!
I enter a small white house. A – 2 – meter – small – house! Not joking. I’m 1,59m tall (or small). Lying down, this means that someone or something with a max. width of 40cm can enter next to me… But this sweet little tiny house is full of good vibes, a lot of love, positivity and courage. Lots of courage. As I go up to the first floor, little croissants and coffee are awaiting me. It’s very obvious that this house is habited by two people with taste, with an eye for detail, beauty and design.
It takes two.
Stijn is 23 years and art director of his own visual storytelling agency. He makes it sound as if it were the most normal thing in the world, but to him in fact, it is. Before Stijn started with Heren Loebas, he worked for two years in the advertising business. Looking back at this work experience, he discovered that he wanted to do it differently, look at it from another angle: less focus on ‘status’ and more on content and authenticity.
Behind every great man, stands a second (great) man, which is the case for Heren Loebas. Meet Peter Vandesijpe. Together with Stijn, he translates the creative concepts into a strong graphic format. His eye for detail and love for architecture are his work tools. Peter sets the (graphic) borders and Stijn decides to stay in or to cross these borders. In contrast to (or better ‘in addition to’) Peter’s work, Stijn tries to implement humour, hope and a certain playfulness into his designs. With their own unique style and strengths in their approach towards others, Heren Loebas gives them the opportunity to finally join forces.
Storytellers with an attitude.
“A ‘Loebas’ is a word that we often use to define someone as a playful rascal. Someone who dares to take risks, who is bold enough to say what he or she wants, without hurting someone. “A ‘Loebas’ would never cross any decent moral standards”, explains Peter. Stijn continues: “the beauty and the strength of the meaning of Heren Loebas lies in the combination of the two words put together. ‘Heren’ stands for ‘pompous’,‘dignified’ and ‘status’ and is totally the opposite of who we are as people in real life and the opposite of the meaning of ‘Loebas’. We do not take ourselves too seriously. That’s also why we have chosen an ‘alter-ego with bow ties’ to present Heren Loebas. But at the same time, we act like gentlemen and that refers to the word ‘heren’ as well, by being decent, respectful and honest in our approach. And in everything we do, we pursue professional performance. People who want to work with HEREN LOEBAS, mostly understand our statement and our way of working.”
Social relevance as a moral duty
If you see Stijn and Peter, you see two young individuals who do not only share life but also find each other in their believes. One of these believes is the fact that they try to implement a double layer into their work. There is always more than what meets the eye. Most of the time, there is a story behind it. They couldn’t go for less.
Today is a perfect day to start living your dreams
As a teenager Peter didn’t know that he would to become a graphic designer and he therefore followed the more classic study path in studying. For Stijn it was more obvious than for Peter to do what he does now, but it wasn’t easier. Stijn grew up in the Western part of Flanders and always has been described as a dreamer. In school, he was the student of whom teachers of whom teachers had little academic hope because of his lack of interest in mathematics etc. and they told him to go and do something with his hands. Therefore his parents decided to put him in a school where handling wood and metal were part of the education. It was a bit like the movie ‘Clash of the Titans’ with Stijn struggling against the big, strong, tough guys at school. But Stijn did what he had to do: he was 12 years old and decided to change school, to travel 2 hours a day and to study graphic design at a school in Ghent. And off he went. His parents followed and supported his brave decision and “since then I learned graphic art as a language”, he says. Later on, he studied at St. Lucas and was selected for The Belgian Advertising school.
If a day would have 3 more hours extra, how would you live it?
It seems a very simple question, but the answer is not as simple as it looks… “Leisure time would be an appropriate answer”, Stijn says, “but it wouldn’t be correct. Actually, I would work again! Our work is some kind of ‘way of life’. We really love what we do, so it does not feel like work… I couldn’t / wouldn’t do it differently. Also the fact that we are in this together, and that we understand the business, makes it easier to live our life. It’s not that we hunger for leisure time, if that make sense?”, he asks. Peter laughs. He confirms that this would indeed be the correct answer, but he also adds that some leisure time once in while also would have a positive impact on what they do. Concerts, travelling, … are things they love to do and that they maybe should do more often because these things increase creativity in general. Peter continues : “Just being Stijn and Peter, not working like Heren Loebas is sometimes something we need to do more often”.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)
At the end of our talk, I ask them both what kind of advice they would give, looking back at their (young) career. Stijn admits that it takes courage to build your life around what you love to do. But to him, it’s the only way he knows how to live his life. Though he recognizes that it is not easy to follow your own path and not to follow what other people expect from you. So, ‘do your own thing and do not try to fulfill someone else’s expectations’, would be his good advice. Peter adds that “things could be made easier when ‘failure’ wouldn’t be an issue anymore. People would dare more. If I would have done this more often and sooner, I think I would be much further now then I am today.”
Real (gentle)men. Lots of courage, great stories & designs. A lot to see and to discover in this tiny white house in Ghent… (In the meantime, Stijn en Peter left their tiny house and moved to another lovely home).