Xaviera Altena

18 november 2019

Xaviera Altena is an illustrator living and working in Rotterdam. From her home office, she rejoices the world with colourful illustrations, which she likes to provide with a socially engaged message. Her illustrations have been published internationally.

As both Xaviera and We Serve Art-founders Faye and Siobhan love to create colorful worlds, we asked Xaviera, back in 2018, to design an object that represents what we do as well as who we are. The result is this tray depicting a banana in a shoe with butterflies, that is now for sale in our webshop.

About Xaviera

Illustrator, known from her work for Hermès, Die Zeit, MTV, The Guardian and Art Fund London, among others.



Patatje, 2018.

What is your work about and how did your style evolve into what it is today?

The truth is, I'm actually a bit of a bitter person. People don't expect it from my illustrations, because they're so colorful. It's a bit of an outlet. I can get pretty sad when I see the world around me, so making it extremely colorful is also a bit of an escape.

As an artist, I want to show the fun, almost comic-art beauty style of women. I like to draw their hobbies, the things they're interested in. I think I want to be like the women in my drawings a bit, because they are cool and powerful girls with pink hair. It is an artistic reflection of how I'd like to be and also how I want the world to look, with people not afraid to show their colors.

My passion for drawing started with comics and children’s books.

I grew up in Rotterdam, in a very diverse, multicultural and rough neighborhood. Meanwhile I also had a protected childhood.  My parents were both teachers and they taught me to observe and take it all in, but not with too much seriousness. That shaped my whole identity, of being in a really safe place and learning to observe: to look at people, to see what they do, to take in their manners and behaviors.

My family and I lived in Rotterdam-West and there were regular gun shootings outside. I spent a lot of time inside the house to draw, from a really young age. Meanwhile, I also loved reading comics. My dad is a collector, so we have a lot in the house. I've read all of them, also the more ‘adult comics’, even when I was really young. My passion for drawing started with comics and children’s books.


Tulum, 2018.

Where did you find the inspiration for your tray design?

Faye and Siobhan from Arttenders are definitely people who are not afraid to show their color. They always wear high heels, they love pink and glitter. That's why I decided to make a high heel. Also, they are a little masculine in their way of doing business, so that’s what symbolizes the banana. The butterflies are an extra touch of femininity. It’s a symbolic representation of Arttenders and of two bad ass business owners.

On a certain level, Arttenders and I have a lot in common. We have a really good click, I think, as ‘female entrepreneurs’ or how you want to call it: we want to put the beauty of femininity in everything, to make the world more colorful and more fun and I think we share some pop vibes as well. I think we have the same taste, the same aesthetic.


Lolita, 2018.


New Nature, 2018.

Unconsciously, I see myself as an entrepreneur as well. Drawing was what I really wanted to do. Secretly, your passion will always try to get ahead of you and it always pops up. Like, when you feel unhappy at a job somewhere and you fantastize about what you want to do the most. Well, for me it was always drawing.

When the boxes with trays arrived, they simply said ‘banana in shoe with butterflies’, but I never think of a title for my work: I just draw and give it to the client. Most of my works are in magazines or are used for commercial things, so I don't really have to give them a title. I really like ‘banana in shoe with butterflies’, I mean why not, it is what it is.

What would your dream project be like?

It would be really cool to do the cover art of a cool music artist, because then everyone would see it and you'd be related to that music too. Or I'd like to do a very big mural. The more people see it, the cooler it is.