PIETERBAASJES || What some might not know is that the tradition of Santa Claus can be traced back to a dutch tradition called Sinterklaas, a bearded white man with a red outfit and hat who hands out presents to children for the occasion of his birthday on december 6th. For years he has been helped by so called Black Pete’s, who descend down the chimney to deliver the presents to the children from house to house in the middle of the night.

The traditional look of Black Pete however has been a very controversial subject for many years, decades even as the look which stems back to the turn of the last century was inspired by blackface and racial stereotypes of black people. Over the years there have been many people protesting against the use of blackface, painted red lips and black afro wigs. There are also a lot of people who grew up with Black Pete and see it as an archetypal character without a racially motivated context, and they go to the extreme to defend the use of the character as is.

I decided to share my two cents on the issue and show people an alternative to the look of Pete, who I also renamed Pieterbaasjes, where I got rid of all the visual elements that are connected to a specific race. Since the story that they shoot up and down chimney’s I simply added soot and charcoal blotches on their faces and show a way where people can all celebrate this tradition without offending anyone and remain inclusive.

The Characters

Rough Sketches