Dick Bruna created Miffy in 1955. Whilst on a rainy seaside holiday in 1955, Dick Bruna entertained his young son by sketching a little bunny in the garden of his holiday home. Every night he made up stories about the bunny for his son, & soon the bunny had a name – Miffy was born.
About Dick Bruna
He was born as “Hendrikus Magdalenus Bruna" in 1927, in Utrecht in the Netherlands, where he still lives today with his wife Irene. Coincidentally, 1927 was also the year of the rabbit!
Dick Bruna also created many other picture book characters in his lifetime, including Snuffy the dog, Boris Bear & Poppy Pig. His first picture book, 'the apple', was published in 1953, and since then he's written & illustrated 124 children's picture books, 32 of which are about Miffy. His books are now published in more than 50 languages.
In his early career, Dick Bruna worked as a graphic designer in his father's publishing company A.W. Bruna & Zoon, creating iconic book covers and posters for the Black Bear paperback detective series, which included stories by authors such as Simenon, Charteris, Fleming & Havank. Once his own picture books became so successful, he left his father's company to work for himself
Early book jacket designs by Dick Bruna
Bruna started drawing at a young age and was also influenced by artists of various art forms. The biggest influence was perhaps Matisse, with Bruna's first works based on collages by the French painter. Bruna is also noted to have been influenced by the Dutch graphic design movement, De Stijl, in particular, the work of architect Gerrit Rietveld. As well as other artists including Mondrian and Leger.
Whilst on a rainy seaside holiday in North Holland, Dick Bruna entertained his young son by drawing a little bunny that constantly hopped around the garden of his holiday house. Each evening he would make stories up about the bunny... &, from then on, a legacy was born.
Recurring characters amongst his works include Boris the little boy bear and Barbara his girlfriend, Poppy the kind pig lady and Snuffy the dog. Additionally, Bruna has also created stories for characters such as Lottie, Farmer John, and Hettie Hedgehog. But it is Miffy (nijntje in the original Dutch), a small rabbit drawn with heavy graphic lines, simple shapes and primary colours, which has become his iconic figure, and one that has made him a household name the world over.
The Dick Bruna Legacy
Alongside his children's books, Dick Bruna has also been commissioned to create logos & posters by some of the world's most renowned charities including The Red Cross, Amnesty International, UNICEF, World Aids Day, & World Peace is Possible.
He's now a widely known and celebrated artist; in 2001 he was decorated by Queen Beatrix as a Knight Commander in the Order of the Dutch Lion, the highest honour which can be given to a civilian. His work is constantly being exhibited worldwide, & he has his own museum, the Dick Bruna Huis in Utrecht, which opened in 2006. His books are still immensely popular & he is the most borrowed author from Dutch Libraries. Miffy is his most famous character & stars in her own TV show, musical, & movie.
You can see Dick Bruna working in his studio here: youtube