1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m born (1984) and raised in Utrecht, the 4th largest city in The Netherlands, in de middle of the country. After two rejections I was let in to art school in 2005, at the age of 21. I successfully graduated in 2009 with a BFA in illustration at Utrecht Art academy. From that moment on I have been working freelance on both autonomous as well as applied projects.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
During art school and after my graduation I tried a lot of different aesthetic styles. I was quickly bored by a style I was working in and wanted to try something new, and therefore was hopping from style to style and medium to medium most of the time. One moment I was in to naive drawings with marker and pen, the other in to really realistic detailed ones with pencil, or in to collages with paper and found images.
A few years ago I had a talk with a friend and more experienced colleague of mine (Merijn Hos, a great artist, check out his work if you don’t know him yet) about how to get my work on the market more effectively, and among some other things he suggested to focus more on one specific style, so it would be more clear to a client what to expect of me in case of a possible commission.
From that point on I tried to work on that, and step by step it became clear to myself what aesthetics work best for me visually as well as labour-intensively. I started to simplify my work, and build up my illustrations out of only round blob-ish shapes. I really liked the ‘organic’ feel of that. However, after doing that for a while I noticed an urge for more straight/geometric shapes in my work to make it more concrete in a way. So I started to combine more geometrical shapes with organic shapes, and was really satisfied with the visual balance and contrast that brought. This has since then been the main aesthetic ingredient for my work.
Despite of all this I still feel the urge to try new visual things, and I’m still doing that, but in a much more subtle way, without changing the main ingredients of my visual language. For instance I try to fill up the shapes I use with different textures or patterns to get different looks. Also color use can do a whole lot to the feel of an illustration.
Over the last year and a half or so I developed a preference for making portraits. At the art academy I learned to focus on concept a lot – too much in my opinion – and I think that may be one of the reasons I (as a reaction to the over-focus on concept) I started to focus more on the aesthetics of images. I found making portraits as a good way to experiment with form/aesthetics/shapes/look, dealing less with a certain message or concept I have to communicate. Ultimately I try to find a good balance between the two, and of course variation between the two works best I think.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
At the moment my favourite medium is Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I can create clear images that are easily adjustable in a fast way with those programs. However originally I’m more of a handwork guy. It took me a long time to get some skills in working digitally, mainly because I didn’t want to let go of the analogue way. To be honest I looked down on working digitally a little bit. I found it was too much of an easy way to create stuff, and not ‘real’. Luckily that’s definitely not the case anymore, otherwise I wouldn’t be half as far in my proces as I am now.
But every now and then, mostly after I’ve been working behind my screen quite intensively for a long period, I really feel like making stuff by hand. To draw, paint or make collages. So of course I do that then. For instance I just finished a series of handmade abstract collages.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Typically I start out with photo material of the subject I want to illustrate. I print it out multiple times to trace certain shapes by pen/hand. After that I digitalise that again to remove the photo behind the traced shapes and edit them in illustrator and photoshop, making shapes more smooth and adding gradients, structures or patterns.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Colleagues inspire me a lot. The way in which other artists visualise things can really get me thinking about my own, and inspire me. The other angle from which they are working can be refreshing, and puts my own work in perspective.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
I have been drawing and have been interested in art since I can remember, so it definitely plays a big role in my life. But I find it hard to say if it really changes the way I view the world.
In a literal way I could say I’m visually orientated of course, so I often look at visual aspects of (common) things, that would supposedly not stand out for people who don’t occupy themselves with (visual) art.
In a figurative way I could more or less say the same; I often see a certain (artistic?) beauty in seemingly simple or common situations, or in big (worldly) events. For instance a contrast, connection or coincidence of some kind. But I’m not really sure if that has to do with my occupation with art, or just having a creative way of thinking in general. Or maybe that’s the same? mmh…hard question…
7. Where did you study?
I studied at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (Utrecht Art Academy)
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
In five years I’ll hopefully be represented by one or more agencies. I’m trying for a while now to get represented by one, but it’s hard to find one you see yourself fitting in and also wants you in their roster. I would like to work on a nice mix of commercial assignments (for certain brands etc.) and more cultural ones (festivals, bands, other kinds of events).
Next to that it would be nice to still have the possibility to work on a personal project every now and then, to reinvent/develop my work and work on something without time pressure.
9. What about in ten?
Pretty much the same as in 5 I think. I don’t really have ambitions to rule the world or become a superstar and get filthy rich, so I don’t look into the future that far. Of course I plan to have enough fun work, be recognised as a good artist and don’t have any financial or health worries, but other than that I’ll let time to its thing and see what happens!
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
See above. Next to that it’s always very nice to make people happy and/or help people in any way if that’s possible.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I like a lot of things, but if I had to choose it would be the Indonesian kitchen. You can make me very happy with an Indonesian rice-table.
12. Favourite book?
I’m not a very big reader, but I just read ‘Healing without Freud or Prozac’ by David Servan-Schreiber. A book about natural approaches to curing stress, anxiety and depression, very helpful if you’re dealing with anxiety-problems like myself.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Also on this subject I’m broadly orientated. My first love (I’m talking high school here) was hiphop, but after that I listened to much much more than that. But I could say electronic music always plays a very big role. The last few years I got more and more fan of older electronic music like for instance italo disco.
14. What are your hobbies?
I see my work as one big hobby, but next to that I swim and run once a week. I like to hang out with friends, drink a beer and go to parties.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
That’s a hard one, because I had the idea to go to Art School and become an artist since I went to primary school. But in the years I did not get permitted at art school I tried studying for one year, at the University for Humanistics. It’s a bit of an anthropology-like study, and I found it very interesting. So if I weren’t an artist, that could very likely be something I would have went on with.