Merel Barends was born in a small town in the East (of the Netherlands). She was an earnest and imaginative kid. Also very nosey, and probably a little annoying.
The woods where she grew up, full of ancient oak trees and dark pines, triggered her imagination. The countless fairy tales that her mother read to her probably also helped.
At age 9 she finished her first novel. It was part of a trilogy that so far has been her only literary legacy. She also provided the illustrations.
After a happy childhood and a gloomy puberty, she decided to dedicate her life to the Arts. Because she had always loved to write, and had grown obsessed with film, she applied for Dramatic Writing For Performance at the HKU. She got in.
So she went to Art School in the Big City (well, Utrecht) with a pocket full of life experiences and a suitcase full of dreams.
Unfortunately, she never fell in love with the theatre. After reading a Zone 5300 (a comic magazine), she did however fall in love with underground comics. She bid Theatre School farewell, and went on to study Illustrational Design. Her graduation project was a graphic novella, The Difference Between Hard & Dark (available at www.blurb.com).
After graduation, Barends took her pocket full of dreams and her suitcase full of life experiences (!) and set up camp in Amsterdam.
Since then, she has devoted her time to writing and drawing, with a clear focus on writing and drawing comics.
Her work has been published by renowned publishers like Podium and De Bezige Bij, as well as by underground magazines. She recently contributed to Filmfanfare (uitgeverij de Bezige Bij) and Orient X Press (free comic paper for Amsterdam East).
She also worked as a character designer in Guangdong (China) and wrote the screenplay for a feature film (the Road to Cádiz, 2009).
For GVB Amsterdam she illustrated the inside of one of the Zilvermeeuw-metros (line 54, Gein). She named it Gamayun, after a fortune telling bird from Russian folklore.
Barends has been working on her first graphic novel for quite some time now. It’s an ambitious & fairly personal book inspired by her brothers’ suicide.
She hopes to finish it some day. Until that day comes, she will keep drawing until her fingers blister. And after that, she’ll just keep going.
She has had an Artis-pass (the zoo) for the last couple of years. She loves to go there and draw the fenneks, tamanduas and axolotls.
Each year, she tries to crash the Boekenbal/Ball of the Books. This year she got in legally, since she was selected to design the decorations.
For the past eight years Barends has been living in the heart of Amsterdam, close to Leidsesquare. This summer, she found a house annex studio in Amsterdam East. She shares the new place with a very talented filmmaker, who also happens to be her lover. They are both owned by a small monochrome cat.