The Heroine’s Journey of Ilona Wagenaar

What is the best thing that I love about my work? The freedom to create, the diversity of subjects, meeting people of all walks of life and last but not least financial independence. I combine my work as photographer with my work as lawyer for various clients but I’m also a promotor and a financier. For example I support artist Lolo Loren, I helped setting up a pop-up gallery for her, I finance her presence at fairs and even support her with personal stuff such as the car she is driving in! Basically such a project is like any other investment and much more exiting and fulfilling then putting money on a savings account. But one has to be careful in financing artists. Both parties need to set up very clear rules of (mutual) engagement in order to avoid trouble.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness does not exist on this planet. In my opinion one should create one own happiness: to celebrate life means that you have to turn your own life into a party , and I’m not talking about an empty life that solely consists of partying and living for the outside world. Understanding the deeper meaning and mystery of life is a step towards perfect happiness.

What is my greatest fear? Old age, ending in an elderly home and becoming the shadow of the person I once was. I have seen too many people ending up like that, friends of my parents but also my ex-mother-in-law who was forced to live in surrounded by permanent assistance following the total loss of her memory.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Impatience!

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Annie Leibovitz because of her pictures of celebrities like the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Whoopie Goldberg and Queen Elizabeth II; my friend Jeane Seah, because as a multi-tasker, she is very patient with her guests and because she combines living in her home (a beautiful castle in France), running it as a bed & breakfast and working as a photographer and artist making jewellery and sculptures; my 90-year old aunt, Elise Isaacson, because she lived the American dream; Ansel Adams for his great landscapes and inventing/using the “zone-system”; Sir Richard Branson as a business man.

What is my greatest extravagance? Spending nights in the most famous hotels of the world and wearing fashion designed by designers such as Roberto Cavalli and Balmain.

On what occasion would I lie? I hate lies.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? As photographer: the many things I have to carry with me when doing a shoot on a location such as lights and glass (lenses); as lawyer: politics in business and people who are not transparent and are playing games and trics, especially those who are doing that behind your back.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? As photographer/publisher: working with Lolo on her book in Ibiza, working with Cees (the Dutch painter Cornelis le Mair) in making shoots for his portraits of various known Indonesian people and for his ‘still lives’- paintings in Bali.  As a lawyer: working for CFS trying to solve various legal issues and for Gilde Buy Out Partners (a very professional organization), in particular making it possible for the investment team to do their work and assist them in the forest of regulations.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I should be more selfish and not help as many (ungrateful) people as I have done in the past.

What is my greatest achievement in work? In photography: my best picture still has to be made.  As a lawyer: I did a lot in the past 20 years, arranged a lot of licenses for financial institutions, set up a compliance department, served as general counsel, completed a lot of projects. Interested? See my LinkedIn profile!

Where would I most like to live? Any place, each place has its own character.

What is my most treasured possession? Having good eyes and good brains.

What is my most marked characteristic? Being able to work in various and challenging circumstances.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? My home – Home Sweet Home!

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Also my home sweet home or if I really have to leave my home: Brasserie 6 or Schulten Hues.

What books influenced my life and how? Autobiography of a Yogi, written by Parahamsa Yogananda. How? Just read it, discover it,  you will understand why.

Who are my favorite writers? W. Shakespeare, Molière, W.F. Hermans, E. Brönte, Ayn Rand, Kahlil Gibran, Gerrit Komrij, George Orwell, Paulo Coelho

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? The Concert for Two Violins in d minor (BWV 1043) of Johann Sebastian Bach (especially in the version of Oistrakh)

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? All those soldiers defending their countries in war; all those who rescued people or animals and people like Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana of Wales: those who dare to stand out and make the difference!

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? I have more than one: Ghandi and Les Untouchables

What role does art play in my life and work? A very important role. Art is a lifestyle. My house is art, my clothes are art, cuisine is art…

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? I do not know. The one on whom I can always count, is myself.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? Bryan Adams: I would love to have an exhibition with Bryan Adams, because he is not only a great live performer, but also a great photographer.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? The list is too long to publish.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? New exhibition, I cannot mention any details at this point and I don’t know the exact date of opening yet.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? Ask Andreas Koch and Sandra van Berkum, they are working on above mentioned project.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? That is the truth.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Madonna, Cindy Sherman, Sally Man, Marlene Dumas and if you would like to have less famous ones, just ring me. In my work as a lawyer, my best friends, Marjan Boerlage – she made a career as a judge – and Angelique Vermunt – she read law and completed her law studies but is successful with her fashion label: (Mariah Carey wears leather designs of Aphero).

How can you contact me? Just flip an e-mail to

My publications:

* Camera Poems, written by an American journalist, Cila Warncke. The book will be published soon. There is already a pre-publication available (which is handmade – bound just for pre publication purposes) (Handmade book contains an original picture printed on metal etch plate) Price: EUR 195,00. The cheaper edition will be EUR 95,00

* Natuurboerderij Villa Bakhuis (about the realization of a biological farm in Heerde, the Netherlands. EUR 20,00

* Lolo Loren – describes an overview of the work of an Ibiza artist who was financed and promoted by me. EUR 20,00 All books can be ordered by sending an e-mail to me: And see

Message of the founder of The Heroine’s Journey Project Peter de Kuster

When you want to support The Heroine’s Journey project buy here one of my books about The Heroine’s Journey.   

You can buy Peter’s Books here 


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