Judith Ceelen is a Zwolle native

"Sometimes I think, 'It's like Paris here...'

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As an adolescent, Judith Ceelen envisioned her future: attending art school and then starting a design firm. When she came to live in Zwolle, she also immediately added a location to that future dream. "'I'll never leave here,' I thought when I lived in Zwolle for a few weeks. I think it's a very nice city. And a city where you get opportunities as an entrepreneur," says Ceelen, who has since been the owner of design agency Beeldprikkels for 16 years.

"I was born in Uden in Brabant. When my father got a job in Twente, we moved to Goor. I lived there until I was seventeen. Then I initially chose the art academy in Arnhem, actually because I preferred not to go to college in Kampen. I didn't like that city. Because I didn't feel at home at the academy in Arnhem, I ended up in Kampen after all. I am still very happy about that. In fact, I found a room on Zwolle's Diezerkade. Two years later, the art academy moved from Kampen to Zwolle. Then suddenly my school was in my street....

Fire on the Diezerkade

Later too, the Diezerkade played an important role in my life. With Beeldprikkels we were in a beautiful, stately building on the corner of that street for a few years. That was destroyed by fire in 2017. We lost everything. Despite that tragedy, even then I saw the beautiful sides of Zwolle. It seemed like everyone felt involved with us. Customers came to help, entrepreneurs asked if there was anything they could do, and we received support from all sides. For me, that typifies the Zwolle feeling. This is a very social city where people have a heart for each other.

Social design

You also quickly build up a network in business. Entrepreneurs help each other and also give colleagues something to do. If you have a good concept, there are plenty of opportunities in Zwolle. With Beeldprikkels we sometimes contribute to that. Our customers come from all over the Netherlands, but the number of companies and organizations in the Zwolle region is large. For example, we work for the municipality, MarketingOost, Cibap, Isala and Travers. Beeldprikkels helps build internal and external brands in the healthcare, welfare, education, government and sometimes commercial sectors. I get a lot of energy from assignments involving social design. I think that is our trademark. We like to think about solutions that add value to society. For example, how do you get the energy transition done locally? How can you get children to exercise more? How do you improve the quality of life of patients? With design thinking and our creative vision, we can contribute to solutions and their elaboration."


Last year we developed the "Zwolle on demand" campaign for Zwolle Marketing. We based that on the well-known streaming services, with one important difference: instead of spending days on the couch watching series, they discovered the most beautiful places in Zwolle. That made me look at the city differently myself. You think about good film locations and pearls that people really need to discover. Then I came, among other things, to the Peacockbar, a hidden cocktail bar, of the Dublin House. That location was so amazing that I immediately asked if we could celebrate our fifteenth anniversary there with Beeldprikkels. But I also looked at downtown with different eyes. It's like bloody Paris...', I thought during a walk. Zwolle has so many beautiful buildings: the Sassenpoort, the Grote Kerk, the Museum Quarter. Sometimes you feel like you're walking through an open-air museum.


But Zwolle is not stuck in that wonderful past. Zwolle is growing and thinking about how to manage that development. A lot has also changed in recent years. I really had a great student time here, but I think the city has only become more fun for young people since that period. Terraces everywhere, nice pubs, fine restaurants, beautiful squares...you can really have a very nice party here. And what is very good: young people continue to live in Zwolle after their studies.

Good in Zwolle

I also notice this in my own network. With the start-up of Beeldprikkels I was in culture workplace R10 on the Rieteweg. There I met many artists, musicians and other culture carriers. I still regularly run into them in Zwolle. No one apparently felt the need to leave. They get plenty of opportunities here and know that it is no better elsewhere. In fact, I think that nowhere is as good as Zwolle."

Judith Ceelen's Top 3.

  • "Sam's Coffee in the Klokkensteeg has a nice concept. And that while I don't drink coffee at all....but you can also go there for a good tea and tasty snacks."
  • "For culture you can go to a lot of places in Zwolle. We ourselves come a lot in Hedon and De Spiegel. Just catch a concert or see a nice show."
  • "With Beeldprikkels we're on the Melkmarkt these days. We overlook the Grote Kerk. [The Academy House]](location://24138 "") is developing that into the largest covered square in Zwolle. And, of course, it's a great building. We'll never get a better view again..."

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