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  Marten Jongema (1951-2011)

A few weeks ago I found a musical program on the Waterloo Square flee market of Wim Sonneveld's "The Little Parade" from 1969. Not only the title but also the font, graphics and layout reminded me of Marten. Something for him. Maybe he could use it. After returning from London in early April, I would send it or bring it to him. Marten died after a sick bed on Thursday 7 April 2011. Only a week before he would be 60 years old.

More than colleagues graphic designers Marten and I were friends. We met each other at the SSP Printers in the Langestraat Amsterdam. Perhaps even earlier. He designed printed matter for Crea. Ronald Timmermans and I made political photomontages that were printed there. The print shop moved to the Kostverlorenkade. We moved along. We drank their coffee, copied on their machines, stood at the presses. Martin had a strong sense of style and aesthetics. He was serious in his commitment for quality, but he was also funny and relativistic. We shared our love of drawing. It was a basis for talks and discussions. He had a good sense for the line. A soft pencil, slowly turning as he sometimes exerted more, sometimes less pressure on the pin and purposefully drew the line. That's the image I have of him. In December 1982 he made the lettering that way for me in Vinyl music magazine vol 2, issue 4. Afterwards enlarged to get a more monumental character. That's what we loved then. We were both poster designers. Completely different, but a good exchange took place when we collaborated for the Paradiso concert venue. I tried to do something out of his repertoire and he out of mine, only to find out that it was special what the other did. Typography was for him not, or at least less important. Sometimes I thought that was a pity. Much more than I he was a romantic. And he was funny. His humor combined with his passion and commitment in his skill as an image creator. Both the obvious and the abstract, he could turn into poetry of image. The posters for the Red Hot Chili Peppers Paradiso, La Chamoule in Grenoble. The long range of posters for the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the Parade. The programs for the Brussels Opera.

Our lives went different directions but we remained friends.

What I keep remembering are the SSP coffee sessions, sharing the short-term workspace on the fourth floor of the Paradiso building with the old reproduction camera of Peter Koring. Also, "Woohoo… Out of paper!" on the 25-year anniversary booklet "Who knows who from who" of SSP. The birth of his son, Mees. He, Rob Schröder and I one day as the Querulants at the Kampen Art school. My wedding invitation he made with photographer Anna Louwes (and my bachelor's night ...). Calvados and conversations by the fireplace in his house in the northern French village of Merle. The small oyster party on his roof terrace just before the tragic death of his beloved wife Carli. His invitation to participate in the summer exhibition at the Stedelijk in 2005. The publication of the Paradiso poster book in 2008. My last brief visit to him in December 2010. He told me that he was going to draw again. Next time we would talk more about it. It won't be. I will miss him.

Max Kisman, 11 April 2011

Harmen Liemburg about Marten
Download Vinyl vol 2, #4 1982

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Marten Jongema as curator graphic design with collega Carolien Glazenburg in the Stedelijk Museum arranging the summer exhibition in 2005 (photo: K vd Heiden)

Lettering by Marten in Vinyl music magazine vol 2, issue 4, 1982

Poster for Production Centre Chorégraphique Nationale Grenoble, 1994

Poster for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Paradiso, Amsterdam, 1990

Poster for Production Centre Chorégraphique Nationale Grenoble, 1995