FLEUR SPOLIDOR.

TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH VISUAL ARTIST FLEUR SPOLIDOR.
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Where are you from? 

I was born in Paris, France, some time ago. I lived near San Francisco, California for 17 years and also 3 years in Zurich, Switzerland. I moved to Amsterdam last summer. I really enjoy living in different countries, discovering people’s culture and way of life.

How would you define yourself? Are you a painter?

I’m probably a painter/visual artist but I also love to recycle materials, so I’m also maybe something of a recycling artist...let’s not waste!

 

Texture details.:Recycled plastics, fabrics, papers and mesh bags.

Yes, I can see the different materials in the background of your paintings, could you tell us more about it?

Recycling is a very important part of my process. Each painting starts with an abstract background made of layers of modeling paste and waste materials like bubble wrap, citrus mesh bags, wrapping papers etc… All the materials are clean of course! I really enjoy creating textures, rhythms, opacities and transparencies from these household materials. And it’s fun when the people recognize them in the finished painting.

How do you paint over so much texture?

It’s part of the challenge. I like to imagine that these backgrounds act like life on the subject I’m painting. It makes them uneven, imperfect. The lines are not clean and straight. They are vibrating and out of focus. It’s a metaphor for life, the way it leaves its mark on us. Some artists try to make you forget about the canvas, they sand it down and cover it with gesso and sand it down again to make it super smooth, so nothing would show through the layers of paint. I’m doing the opposite, I exaggerate the texture, I push it forward, I use it as a disrupting element in the image. It creates a sort of tension between the image and its background. Tension is something we all have to deal with in life and I'm trying to recreate it in my work.

Your work starts with an abstract but it ends up being figuratif? How do you go from one to the other?

The abstract part of the work is very liberating, it’s physical, I’m playing with the different “ingredients”,  the modeling paste and the papers, plastics and all. It’s dirty and fun. But it’s also mostly the beginning of the story. From that “magma” I make my subject appear. They are floating over it, not really anchored. Traditionally when you paint, you place your figures in a specific environment, a living room, a garden… at least something with a ground or a floor. It gives you more information about the situation the characters are in. In my work, I try to focus on the meaning behind the image. I try to remove everything that’s not essential. When I paint a woman on the beach wearing a bathing suit, I’m not painting a seascape scene, I’m painting the struggle women face everyday when they are asked to be “socially appropriate”... I don’t really need to paint the beach in detail, but it’s good to remember that on every beach around the globe women have to fight to have the freedom to wear whatever they want.

 

"The length of my bathing suit"

Acrylic, mixed media with collage of recycled materials on canvas

48”x60”” (121,92 cm x 152,4 cm)

In your work we can see women, octopuses, young girls, white rabbits, robots, giant flowers or cakes, it’s very diverse, what’s your inspiration?

I get a lot of ideas from books like “Alice and Wonderland” and “20,000 leagues under the sea” or my favorite movie “Metropolis by Fritz Lang” but I rework them in a new narrative. I’m not illustrating these books/movies but I reuse some of their iconic characters to reflect on today’s world. That’s how the Queen of Hearts turns into a colorful queen of the oceans with the addition of 8 tentacles and an anatomically correct heart. She becomes a symbol for the protection of the oceans. Alice is always wearing something blue but she can be of any age. It’s the idea that Alice could be anyone, going through life, facing all kinds of challenges.

 

"Octopussy"

acrylic, mixed media with collage of recycled materials on canvas

36”x36” (91,44cm x 91,44cm)

Your work is mostly about meaningful subject matters like climate change and women's rights, what makes you work on these topics?

Painting is a very personal thing, I can only work on subjects that are close to my heart. It feels like women’s rights always need to be protected. It’s easier to lose them than to get them. Even in countries where you would think that it wouldn’t be a problem, like the USA or France. Art is a good way to reflect on difficult problems and to present them to the public. On the subject of climate change, for some years now, artists have collaborated with research institutes and scientists to give life to varied projects, capable of awakening consciences and to provoke a collective commitment. Artworks are personal and accessible, they can move and change behavior because art has this particularity of touching us personally. Art touches our senses, it’s an experience more efficient sometimes than a simple speech. That’s why I paint on these subjects, my paintings are my voice and I’m always happy to start a discussion with the public.

 

“Women who read are dangerous“

acrylic, mixed media with collage of recycled materials on canvas

36”x36” (91,44cm x 91,44cm)

Is connecting with the public important for you?

This is what I like most about art, it’s the experience you share with the people. It’s a momentary connexion between the spectator and an object or a concept. This connexion happens through our senses and it connects with our knowledge, our vision of things. In my work I try to connect with the public through common memories. In my series of “Sweet bouquets”, I paint delicious patisseries from around the globe. Who doesn’t have a favorite dessert! These pastries arrangements also represent the mixity of our community, people coming from other countries and bringing their specialties. Even with our differences we can all agree on good food.

 

“Sweet Symphony”

acrylic, mixed media with collage of recycled materials on canvas

36”x 28.7” (91.44 cm x 73 cm)

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I love working with people.  I do a lot of work on commissions and nothing makes me happier than when they see the painting for the first time. Their smiles, the light in their eyes, it keeps me going. Painting is a lot of work, many hours in the studio. It’s very solitary. But that very special connection you create with people when they enjoy what you’ve made, it’s unique. It gives a particular meaning to my life.

 

“Alice and the orchid extraordinaire”

acrylic, mixed media with collage of recycled materials on canvas

36”x36” (91,44cm x 91,44cm)

 

What is your next project?

I’m still new here, in Amsterdam, and with the Coronavirus crisis everything slowed down. Galleries and museums are closed, events are cancelled. I have 2 shows in Amsterdam at the moment, but probably very little or no visitors. Anyway, I keep busy, working on future projects. I’m thinking of curating a show with other artists from the area, it’s a great way to meet new people: artists and art lovers. I’m always happy to work on commissioned work. And of course I will keep on painting Alice and the queen of hearts surrounded by octopuses, robots, white rabbits and lots of yummy cakes!  

Fleur Spolidor’s work is on display at:

Stichting Reade Overtoom 283  Amsterdam until April 18th, 2020

Art Angels Pop up show Overtoom 255  Amsterdam more info www.artangels.nl

 

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INGE VAN HEERDE.

TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH VISUAL ARTIST INGE VAN HEERDE.
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How would you define yourself?

I would define myself as a visual artist. I'm in photography and video art. I use pen, marker, tape and ink in my pictures. I also combine pictures in works.

Work: Videostill- Dissolve in space

Work: Ghost stories

Would you say your work is more aesthetic or more meaningful?

Both.

Before, my work could be defined as less meaningful. My photos were more colourful then. Aesthetically-speaking; a lot of people liked my work better then.

Nowadays, people actually wonder what I want to say with a work of art. People tell me they feel an inner connection to the work. I really appreciate that.

In my video art and photography, I've been searching for the limitations of discomfort for a long time. This has always been about being meaningful rather than aesthetically-pleasing.

Work: Extra-terrestrial on Earth

Work: Zig Zag Nature

What inspires you and how do you launch your ideas?

I'm inspired by all sorts of things. It can be patterns in fabrics, structures in nature, or even the way products are aligned in a supermarket. I'm also inspired by museum visits. I have a preference for retrospective exhibitions because they enable me to dive into the brain of the artist.

I'm extremely fascinated by our human brain and the way we navigate ourselves in and through society. On the one hand, there's our flexible nature to deal with unexpected events. On the other hand, there are the many ways in which we easily fall back onto old ways of thinking. When we inflict the discomfort and the suffering, we can fight these old ways of thinking and embrace the unknown.

This is also why I fear the excess of transparency in the conceptual approach. In my opinion, that is when miracles are fully excluded. I've spent a long time figuring out discomfort.

Besides this, I'm fascinated by mythical and mythological stories. I guess that's because the most unusual events occur in these tales. Also, the various themes are timeless.

These stories often deal with basic emotions, such as fear and longing, which anyone can relate to and learn from. The Gods in classical mythology look like people, behave like people, and share many of the same characteristics. In psychology, the archetypes are often used and these date back to mythology. All of this is super interesting to me: the brain and mythology finding common grounds.

I look into a subject over a longer period of time and come to ideas. After that I start making things, simply drawing up stuff or taking pictures. My ideas develop along the way.

In my recent works, I've noticed that by working intuitively, the meaning of the work gradually takes shape.

While working on my last three projects, I decided to use a number of old photos I wasn't happy with anyway. I already had huge prints made and decided to layer these with tape and pen. I cut out parts of the prints as well. I basically gave myself the liberty to do whatever I wanted.

In the meantime, I'd been reading about a number of female archetypes in Greek mythology.

This fascinated me to such an extent, that I started thinking of ways to integrate these archetypes into my work. Nothing worthwhile came up, so I completely let go of the idea and started focusing on the material experiment.

After a few weeks, I was looking at three works I'd continually been working on. I clearly recognized three archetypes in the works. They turned out to be the three archetypes that I personally related to the most.

I hadn't consciously been driving at this at all. It was a great discovery.

Work: Floating on stones

Work: Among dead flowers

Work: Where is the flux star?

How do you want to deploy your work? E.g. Do you want to make people happy or even solve problems?

I mostly just express myself and try to give shape to certain ideas and questions that keep wandering about in my head. There are people who recognize these issues and I really love that.

What is your background and does it intersect with your work?

I think my background definitely plays a role. I come from a very loving family, but with some mental health problems.
This is why the human brain has fascinated me ever since I was young. Why are some people so easily contented and naturally self-assured, while others are not? Even as a child I was interested in people who didn't have their feet firmly planted in society. People who were slightly different but with great stories to tell. This fascination hasn't changed, it's still very much there.

Work: Bathing

How do you start working on a new project?

I often spend several weeks at the open library. I love sitting there for hours on end, surrounded by beautiful books. Up until now, I've explored a lot of related subjects, but -more often than not-, something or someone triggers me to look into something new. The library is a good starting place for me.

After that I go to my studio. I start drawing and new ideas spring to life. They aren't always my best ideas, but it's about the exploration. It's crucial to try out different things. Earlier in this interview, I elaborated on this process and the ways it proceeded recently.

How important is it for you to share your art with others?

Whenever I exhibit my work, I am vulnerable. An exhibition creates an open area for other people's reflections on my work. As we all know, this can lead to criticism. However, when you don't showcase your work, you often don't progress much either.

Exhibiting work gives me a deadline. I'm clearly working towards a goal. Other than that, I share my work on social media for those who are interested in my art.

Have you developed your own style?

I think so. My work is colourful yet oppressing. I also alter in layers by using markers and tape.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently working on large mixed media works in which the three archetypes, the Greek Goddesses Hestia, Aphrodite and Artemis, have emerged. I'm still working on various layers in these works.

I'm also experimenting with techniques out-of-frame. I want to see what that does, to see whether it makes the work more interesting or not. Exploring possibilities!

Work: Hestia

Work: Aphrodite

Does being a woman influence your work?

At the moment it does.

I'm strongly focusing on the aforementioned female archetypes and my own inner world as a woman. Looking back at my last works, I realize that at the end of the day, they're ultimately self-portraits.

Work: Baba Jaga

CHECKOUT HER WEBSITE

https://www.ingevanheerde.nl

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KIRSTEN STEUR

TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH VISUAL ARTIST KIRSTEN STEUR.
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What do you define yourself as?

I currently describe myself as a visual artist. I am, however, looking for a term that better describes what I do. I think "Visual arts" is still too vague. The things that I do fall under visual arts, but it would be nice to find a term that ​fits my work better. So that it is clear to others what I do when I identify myself with it. I also think visual researcher ​is a nice way to describe my work.

How do you maintain interdisciplinarity in your work?

I actually do not consciously do something to keep it interdisciplinary. My work is interdisciplinary, because I don't have a fixed outcome for what I make. When I find something ​new for a project, one of my first thoughts is: How can I best convey this idea that is in my mind to someone else? They are often just small things that ​can be found on the street or somewhere in your area. To show something like ​that as a miracle to someone else, they all need their own approach. ​Because of this every work has a different approach. 

 

What are you currently working on?

I am currently completing a seasonal project. DE-BIRTH is a project that deals with the ink fungus and especially its decay process. It is a very interesting fungus that propagates itself by dissolving its body. That is why the project is called DE-BIRTH, which stands for life and death in one (death-birth, un-born, un-life). I started this project in my 3rd year, but because ​the fungus only grows for a short period it never really ended. This autumn I ​started the project again when the fungi were back in bloom.

Now the mushroom season is over and I am mainly busy ​documenting the new ​finds and ​thinking about what new experiments i can do next yer.

And then ​it's time for the next project!

How do you get a good workflow?

My work often starts in the woods or somewhere on the street, when I become enthusiastic about a new find. I naturally want to get started with ​it as quickly as possible. Once in the studio, it is often just a matter of good preparation, collecting all the necessary materials. So I can immediately immerse myself completely in the material / subject. ​Most of the time the making process goes naturally.

As soon as it comes to ​documenting things (photographing work, editing photos, typing text and all that boring ​stuff), it is really a matter of simply forcing myself to do it. Once I'm busy in that flow I will keep ​working on it.

In the end it all comes down to having your necessities, nice music in the background and just ​go and do it.

How do you deal with the materiality in nature?

Nature is a source for my work. I often literally ​take material with me​like ​i did with DE-BIRTH. I am not a maker who sees nature as a material source from which I will make 'products'. My interests are not with the use of nature as a production source, but on the side of: Look this is it, isn't it beautiful ?!

​For me nature is the artist i'm working together with. It has already been made, my job is to make it clear to the viewer.

Do you mainly make aesthetic work or also meaningful or a mix of both?

A mix of both. All my work has a certain kind of research or thought behind it. I also think it is important that the ​outcome is aesthetic, but of course beauty differs per person. I see ​a certain beauty in a dead bird, such as in my 'flightless' photo series. This series consists of a series of photos of dead birds. Because ​of a certain philosophy​ I see in it, I can see a beauty in it. If you give that philosophy or meaning along with the image, another person may also see that aesthetic.

Furthermore, the final meaning of much of my work is that it is about the appreciation of everything around us. Aesthetics ​are also part of that. So aesthetics ​are actually ​the visual part of my work, but also the meaning behind it.

How do you choose on which topics you will base your work?

I actually don't choose certain topics. In the end all ​off my work can probably be brought back to the subject of 'beauty'. But as I mentioned before; I mainly focus on what the subject needs and not on what I want to talk about.

Those are things that come afterwards.

Why the fascination for nature?

 

​Well, that's just something that really appeals to me. Nature simply has many interesting processes. Who doesn't like the ​changing of colors of leaves in the fall? ​Looking at it this way, there will be many things to consider awesome.

Now I also grew up in a family that often went for a nice walk in the woods on Sundays. Which I always really enjoyed, because there was so much to see. In secondary school ​ biology was my favorite subject. ​With this subject I learned about all those interesting processes that ​take place, ​in the micro and macro world. There was just more than what you could see with the naked eye.

​Those hidden mystery really appeal to me.

But I also find ​it strange that many people regard some things as 'normal'. "An ant is just an ant, walking around somewhere. That's just the way it is." I find that strange. Have you ever really looked closely at that walking ant?

​If you look at your surroundings with a interested and questioning view, you'll suddenly see a lot of wonderful things.

 

What is your favorite physical place to create work and why?

The ​atelier.

​The outside world is the place where I ​go for inspiration. ​Which I convert into work in the studio. ​ Because that is where most of the materials ​that I need are. It is a space with the purpose of creating work. I also have two studio buddy's, ​who make it extra fun. We encourage each other to make ​work(a kind of quiet work pressure), but ​we also talk to each other about thoughts and doubts. They know my ​work through and through, even though we all make totally different work, ​which makes it easy to talk to them about it.

 

Do you have a certain style in your work?

That would be the return of elements from nature, since I often work with them. I don't really have a style that I adopt, because of this I find it difficult to ​define my ​way of working as something hahaha.

CHECKOUT HER WEBSITE

https://www.kirstensteur.com

TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH VISUAL ARTIST MAARTJE STEEHOUWER / OATDEER.
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What do you define yourself as?

To say it a bit broader, I would call myself a visual artist. I find it difficult to place my work in 1 category. I am now mainly busy with illustrative work, but I am also very interested in design. I see this as the final touch of my illustrations, but also the literal design of clothing. There is a whole process behind it. Searching for the right piece of clothing, coming up with the image to put on it, the placement of the design and then the photography and finally the editing of the final work, which also involves graphic aspects. In addition to my illustrative work, I am also involved in photography and film.

What is your work about?

My work does not really have an ongoing subject. I often base my works on special things that I have seen in my dreams. So a kind of dream world is something that comes back in my work. I have periods that I can remember my dreams very clearly and then I usually write them down to find out possible meanings, even though I often dream about very strange images. It is as if my fantasy goes even freer. I often like to make real images of this in my illustrations.

What do you think is important in your work?

Aspects that are incorrect. This can be in certain combinations of shapes, colors or environments. I like it when artworks have something unreal, maybe even a sort of trippy effect. That is also something I would like tp continue this way of creating, making my images more and more bizarre.

Do you make aesthetic work or meaningful work? Or a mix of both?

My work is both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful to myself. I think aesthetics are very important because people are very visually oriented. I like the design aspects very much, such as the placement and use of colors in my work so that they display a beautiful image. If I like my work, it also gives me a good feeling and that motivates me to create more.

What encourages you to keep creating?

I think that drawing is something that I can use my creativity in very well. During periods when I did not feel good about myself, or when I am in a bad dip or depressed period, I notice that I am not concerned with much of my creativity. Once I start being creative again, my zest for life will come back a bit. Coming up with ideas outside of myself gives me the freedom to create my own world that I like. So it really is something that makes me feel like I am really completely myself, and it gives me energy to do other things. If I do not create, I will lose myself, and if I do, I will find myself back piece by piece.

Do you think you have developed your own drawing style? Because to me it seems like you have.

Sure. After years of drawing I have increasingly acquired my own recognizable style. I always drew everything from styles which I personally liked. I think this has made me grow closer and closer to myself and I have found my own way of drawing what has become a mix of everything that inspires me. I do notice that this style can also vary from time to time and with my changing interests. I am now at a point where I am very happy with what I am making and I want to expand it further, but I have  found a way of working in which I can express my creativity perfectly. I would therefore like it to stay this way.

How do you approach starting a new work?

I think the choice to start is the most important. Often my inspiration is hard to find. By listening to music and finding images on Pinterest for example, I quickly get inspiration to start something. I sometimes see photos of other works of art which have a certain shape and I take inspiration from them to make my own. I often work out concepts quite quickly, something comes to mind and when I'm enthusiastic about it, I can put it on paper in the way that I see it in my head. I was totally unable to do this years ago. I am therefore very happy that I am better able to portray images the way I see them in my mind, or else just go along with the process and see how it ends.

About the practical part of starting work:  I often look for inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram, in photos I have taken or images of my dreams etc. I have a fairly simple way of working. I make a sketch, which is often quite finished, and I trace this with a black fine liner / pen. I scan this and then add colors digitally to make it a complete work. Sometimes I also draw freehand without making a sketch.

I think your work tends to have something tangible (such as painting clothes and tattoo designs) in the sense of wanting to transfer your art to a body. Is this a conscious choice?

This is indeed a conscious choice. I really like it when my art can be made physically. In this way a literal part of myself also becomes part of another, let this be in the sense of an item of clothing or a more permanent way such as a tattoo.

 I wonder what the reason is that you started designing tattoos, is this something you have always wanted, or did you want to experiment more with your drawing style in general by practicing on bodies?

About two years ago I found a tattoo artist named Grace Neutral online. I found her way of thinking very free and this was very inspiring for me to become more openly myself. I have never been this interested in tattooing, although I often saw beautiful images passing by and I have always admired people who practice this art. A year ago, I had just had a bad mental period and after that I felt the urge to go deeper and to find myself, part of it was also to feel more like myself in my body. After coming up with a design and waiting a few months I got a tattoo of my own drawing. For me, this feels like a piece of myself that shows my period of growth well. I actually started thinking about the possibility that tattooing could also be a career for me. I started looking into this art much more. I am currently building up a portfolio and, in the meantime, I want to learn some tricks myself and follow a course to fully learn tattooing.

Which aspects of designing a tattoo differs from making your illustrations digitally / on paper?

I think it is different for me in the sense that I add less to my tattoo designs. In principle, the 1 image must stand strong on its own. It might also force me to look further with my images in how I can present them in terms of design. In my earlier illustrations I often drew people and recently many other natural forms such as animals and plants. I think that with tattoos your body forms the final picture, while with a normal illustration it must be able to stand on its own.

What is your future perspective in terms of the things you make? For example, what do you want to develop more in, and what would you consider interesting to test even more?

I would like to learn more about tattooing, so that I can also tattoo people and I am hoping this might become my job. I sometimes dream about having my own shop in the future. This could be a tattoo shop, a clothing store, studio, café or several or all of these ideas together. In any case, I know that I am really looking forward to seeing what the future will bring me and I know that I will certainly continue to create.

CHECKOUT HER INSTAGRAM 

https://www.instagram.com/oatdeer/