Artist Highlight — Renske Werner

What do the banners on Denman Street, the back doors in Eihu Lane downtown and school walls in Oakridge all have in common? They all feature the work of local artist Renske Werner.

So, when we wanted to create an illustrated map of the South Flats, we knew Renske was the right fit for the project.  The goal was to create an illustrated map showing the connectivity of the South Flats, including some of our favourite businesses, parks, and attractions in the area. We loved the result so much, the map was featured on the tote bags handed out at Flats Fest, our recent community event.

We sat down with Renske to learn a little more about her evolution as an artist, her process for creating illustrated maps, and her favourite part of commissioned work.

Renske, tell us a little more about yourself. 

“I moved from the Netherlands back in 2000 to study film and television at a local university. After many years of working in TV production, freelance writing, and even as an author, I began sharing drawings on Instagram, and thus began my career as an illustrator. I began doing commissioned work for everything from tote bags to murals, and, of course, illustrated maps.”

What is the process for creating these maps?

“I start with Google maps to pinpoint the area I want to cover. I draw streets, parks, and bodies of water, often cheating with scale so I can fit everything in. Next, I draw the people – that’s my favourite part. I imagine all the people in their neighbourhood, going about their day. I give them cool outfits, shopping bags, a bicycle, or a dog. Then, I add all the tiny buildings, restaurants, and shops. My goal is to create a map that makes people want to go visit the destination I drew.”

What are your favourite projects to work on?

“Give me a good client relationship and I will enjoy the project. It doesn’t matter if the project is big or small, when values are aligned with a client, the work flows easy. I love working on projects that allow me to stick with my personal style. Maps are fun because of all the details, and murals are fun because I can be looser. Overall, it’s the mix of different projects that keeps the work interesting and fresh.”

You can find out more about Renske online at or on Instagram @renske_werner.