dinsdag 18 april 2017

Reaching Rock Bottom: a solid foundation for personal and artistic growth!

As I have been quite consumed by the move to the new studio and the set up of a whole new workplace, I unfortunately have had very little time to update this Witty Art Blog. But the good thing is, I have also recovered and in a way more or less rediscovered a bunch of older work I created throughout 2015 and 2016 most of them either sketches in first stages or just plain unfinished works.

So, I kind of went through them again, sorting them out and filing and, where and when needed, adding the final touches. Often it was the not so simple case of a bit of finetuning, while with others I decided to leave them just as they were. For some, only the titles were lacking - but the process of naming my work can also be a difficult and challenging one.

But, managed well, I think. Either way, here are a couple of these recovered works of Witty Art, most of them drawings made with a combination of graphite pencil, charcoal and/or conté crayon. I do like the contrast between the fine pencil lines and the velvety robustness of the charcoal, interacting with the harsher tones of the conté crayons.

This combination of materials provides for very strong images, powerful but with a touch of tenderness to it. Edgy and raw, yet strangely soothing. Well, I like to think so, at least. 

So, I updated them on this page: Witty Singles, Part 2, together with a whole batch of other Witty Art, most of them created in the late fall and winter of 2016.

And to be honest, when I look at this particular page and compare to them to the Singles I made in the period 2013-2014, I am quite proud. For I can see my work has definitely grown, as whereas at the time I was forced to give up my home and my workplace, I was so afraid that losing a proper place to work would limit or even stop me from developing myself as an artist.

That fear was real. I had been there before. And I remember so clearly, whatever happened, I would not let that happen all over again. Not this time. So, with the support of my dear loved ones, I kept on creating Witty Art. With a simpe fineliner or a fountain pen, in a notebook, which prompted the birth of my artbook ''My Life In Limbo'' (which I am STILL working on, more on that again SOON). Later, I rediscovered the pleasure of pencil drawing and materials such as charcoal, pastels and conté crayons and so on.

And when finally I got to work with ink again, I could feel that my work had been enriched by, in fact, I had feared most. That reaching rock bottom would leave me wasted and worn out and unable to create and be myself for a long, LONG time. 

Turns out, I was wrong. So wrong. In fact, I can say that reaching this all time low point in my life, helped me to become myself in many more ways than I ever could've imagined before.

In fact, Rock Bottom proved to be a solid foundation of some kind, at least! 

woensdag 5 april 2017

A new studio for both Witty Art & Witty Projects (and much more): Studio PuRRR

So, I've been a bit behind on updating this Witty Art Blog - but for a good reason! The last couple of weeks have been insanely busy with preparing the move to my new workplace at Studio PuRRR, the creative artstudio I set up last year, together with my creative partner and fellow artist Deborah van de Beld. For a while, Studio PuRRR was a travelling pop up initiative, trying out some small-scale creative and culinary concepts on various locations - but pretty soon we found a more permanent place for ourselves.

We have moved into Schiezicht, a local, Delfshaven based community initiative, founded and ran by a group of dedicated locals who share the same views on grass roots community and place making, creative and social entrepreneurship, local economy and sustainability. It was there, when looking for a venue to host our production Horen Zien en Schranzen (an art and literature event featuring Dutch poets and singer-songwriters) that we stumbled across this really great space with the full potential of turning it into the ideal artstudio and the perfect homebase for both our creative companies and artist practices, as well as all other individual and combined projects: Studio PuRRR.

And as our luck would have it, the Schiezicht crew were looking for some new faces to join their team as well. So, after a couple of talks, we reached an agreement and we got the keys to what's now our very own studio!

Now, an important part of this agreement with Schiezicht is that both Deborah and I are both part of Schiezicht's core crew, helping this initiative grow and develop further. I do so by taking care of external communications (digital newsletter, website, and so on) and Deborah is part of the cooking team, which serves tasty homemade meals to the neighborhood at a friendly price. This fits seamlessly with our own vision on creative and social entrepreneurship, creating additional social value for the community.
Schiezicht means so much as ''view on the river Schie'', very apptly named as it's located directly on the riverside of the 'Delfshavense Schie' in an area of Rotterdam called Delfshaven - to be precise, on the outer fringe of a neighborhood called Bospolder Tussendijken. Perhaps not the most glamorous part of booming Rotterdam (hot, hip and happening on all kinds of To Be Lists and in the middle of the grip of gentrification) with high unemployment rates and many vulnerable people living in the margins of society. But to us, it's one of the most interesting because of its combination of a cultural diversity, social resilience and creativity, outer edginess and hidden gems of local entrepreneurship, artists and makerspaces. 

And sure enough, we aren't the only ones, as Bospolder Tussendijken managed to grasp the attention of The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, who visited the area and it's local makerspace Bouwkeet in person only very recently. Read an impression of her visit both here and here. Unfortunately for us, we were still busy renovating our own artists space then, but rest assured, we are more than ready for her next visit!

Either way, I for myself am extremely happy for the opportunity to be working in this new studio, which, in more than one way, proves to be the perfect venue for not only creating Witty Art and developing myself further artistically but to roll out further Witty Projects, in a way that suit me - because I firmly belief in the concept of commercidealism: the ability to run a succesful business and a profitable company, that will enable me to sustain myself as well as generating some form of social return. What exactly, I am right in the middle of finding that out - as I am still rebuilding my life and my business, after having lost my house and my home about almost two years ago. A process, I've been trying to visualise in my Witty Art Book ''My Life In Limbo'' (which I am behind updating too, will do so SOON!)

It's still a long way to go. It's still a steep hill to climb. 
But I no longer feel it's a whole mountain. 
And I've found, that going downhill no longer means hitting rock bottom.
I've found that rock bottom isn't that scary after all, too.

And I am determind to make this work.
Because I no longer simply believe I have a lot to offer to society.
I know I do. 
And this time, I will do so in the way that is right for both society and me.

zaterdag 4 maart 2017

Very happy with my brandnew Witty Art Promo Flyers!

Today, I am very happy to have my brandnew Witty Art promotional flyers delivered, thanks to my prefered printing company Drukland.NL for their quality service, as usual.

So, earlier I ordered a set of brandnew Witty Businesscards, for which I used the image of one of Witty Art's favourite characters: UnBunny, always balancing the tight rope when bridging the gap between the corporate, commercial world of the entrepreneur and the more social and creative aspects of life as an artist.

And when deliberating on which image to choose for my Witty Art promotional flyers, I didn't have to doubt for too long: ofcourse, it had to be UnBunny again and this time, too, I opted for one of my series 'Innovation In Corporation'. Because after all, UnBunny IS one of the most loved Witty Art Characters and, not totally unimportant, series featuring him are amongst my best selling as well. All in all, a good choice for a promo flyer, I suppose.

Anyway, am looking forward to utilize these flyers to the absolute max and spreading them all over town and beyond or handing them out during art events such as exhibitions and so on. So, if you live in or around Rotterdam, The Netherland, you are bound to see some of these in a place near you, very, very SOON!

Also, look out for more new Witty Art promotional items in the near future - and yes, some of these will be available on line as well!

zondag 26 februari 2017

Flashback to when I made three illustrations featuring this charming pitbull...

Flashback to that time, back in 2013, I was asked to create three illustrations, which were to be published in the special 25th Anniversary of the Rotterdam pop festival Metropolis. I really liked working on that comission, because Metropolis is truly one of those Rotterdam festival icons, headlining bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins and The Prodigy before they rose to worldwide fame.

Metropolis, in other words, is known for showcasing ''The Best You've Never Heard Of'' and has been doing so now for over 25 years. And I even though I myself have missed out on the last editions, I cherish many fond memories of earlier editions, so I was really proud to have been asked to help contribute towards this special 25th anniversary publication.

There is a little catch to this series of three, as you can see a very charming but characteristic pit bull making an appearance on all three drawings. It's a quirky reference to the days when Metropolis carried the nickname ''Pitbull Festival'' with pride, a nickname given by especially those who were not from Rotterdam and found themselves travelling ''all the way'' to the southside of the city, deep into ''Zuid''.

Deep into that part of the city known as Feijenoord - an area in it's core a worker's district (more so 25 years ago, but still today), where most inhabitants are devoted supporters of soccer club Feyenoord and where dogowners have developed a special relationship with the canine breed commonly known as ''pit bulls''. And a significant number of those owners walked their dogs, their pits, in the Zuiderpark, including those days the park hosts events and festivals like Metropolis.

This earned Metropolis the nickname ''Pitbull Festival'' as one of the columns I had to illustrate, clearly refers to this, I obviously had to draw a pitbull - and I just couldn't stop at one, so I created one who'd appear in on all three drawings.

He's what you would call, a handsome dude, a little rough around the edges, with a very down to earth and robust charm and certainly not a dog of many words and whose bark is way, way louder than his bite - if he does so, only when he's challenged to, either to defend himself or the ones he cares for.

Reason why I bring all this up now? .. Well, it's because it seems that this charming fella will reappear in my work. In what way, now, I will have to keep that a bit quiet for now, but I promise all will be revealed, SOON!


Going ''Up And Down The Rabbit Hole'' is a system labyrinth in itself


Some of you may have read this earlier blog, in which I posted some previews of my new series ''Up And Down The Rabbit Hole'', which, although its title might have you believe otherwise, is certainly NOT about or related to the whole ''Alice in Wonderland'' story. I also promised to write a blog about which children's books and stories did make a lasting impact on me, enough to inspire me both as a child and as an adult, and enough to influence Witty Art in some way or another. 

Well, that's a blogpost I am currently still working on - as I want and need to take my time for that one. So you will all still have to wait for that one just a little bit longer.

BUT I can show you some works from this series ''Up And Down The Rabbit Hole''. This time, I chose to work exclusively with graphite pencil, just adding a bit of charcoal when I felt it was necessary to create some contrast or a bit of depth to the drawing. Yet, at the same time I wanted to produce some clearly defined, cartoon style lines, creating a pretty much graphic result in the end. 

As the phrase ''to go down the rabbit hole'' (yes, courtesy of Lewis Carroll, ofcourse, so much for claiming not to be inspired by Alice, huh?) basically means ''to enter a period of chaos and confusion'', and is basically ''a metaphor for an entry into the unknown, the disorienting or the mentally deranging'' or even a ''slang expression for a psychedelic experience, from the same usage''. There might also feelings of ''adventure and discovery and maybe even some excitement', while stepping into unknown.

The whole point with rabbit holes, is you often don't see them. You don't always have a well-dressed, well-mannered rabbit-in-a-rush leading the way. Or there might be a rabbit, but you just don't recognize it and you're not even aware that you, in fact, have already entered its burrow and you are well on your way into the unknown.

And for some, that means adventure and excitement, full of opportunities and possibilities. For some, it means a period of worry and uncertainty, of anxiety and depression even.

Because entering the rabbit hole comes with change, sometimes severe change or a series of lifechanging events. And, unlike Alice who in the end just wakes up from her dreams (or hallucinations), you cannot go back. A real life rabbit hole basically has its own event horizon, its own point of no return, once you have entered, you will have to experience the whole journey, every single step of the way.

And while you are walking ahead, climbing, stumbling, falling down and getting up, you will discover that there is not one, but an seemingly endless series of rabbit holes to go to, all intertwined, all connected - a whole damn' system labyrinth of it.

It will take a lot of steps going forward and backward to keep on going - untill you will find your way out.

donderdag 23 februari 2017

Upgrading this blog while rediscovering unfinished Witty Art

Currently, I am busy with a proper upgrade of this Witty Art Blog. As in: removing bad quality pictures and replacing with perhaps not the best ones, but at least better ones, updating and expanding the Series and Singles pages in particular, as I was also lagging behind with posting previously unpublished artwork.

You now can check the following updated pages:

Witty Art Singles, Part 2 (2015-2016)

Witty Art Series, Part 2 (2015-2016)
Witty Art Series, Part 1 (2011-2014) 

To me, the good thing about an upgrading process like this, is it makes me go through all my files again, rediscovering a whole bunch of stuff I myself had more or less forgotten about. That is especially the case with the work I was working on when I had to move out of my home and my studio, during the summer of 2015. During that very turbulent time, I basically store away all my artwork in boxes and containers, making sure it was stored safely at the home of a good and trusted friend, untill I'd be able to move into either a new home or at least, a new studio to work in.

But with most of my work stored away and more or less unaccessible to me, I lost track of some stuff I had been working on. But by going through all my files on my harddisk, looking for and sorting better quality pictures or enhancing them digitally, I also stumbled across many photographs I'd taken of work shortly before I had to leave my old studio. Amongst these pictures were many of works-in-progress, like the ones I am publishing on this blogpost.

Looking at many of these files, actually meant a big motivational boost for me. It's not that I really had forgotten about them, it's more that I saw the progress I was making at that time, and as my art developed even further over this last year, I can't wait to start working on this now almost two year old works again!

Works, that are undoubtedly waiting patiently for their time to come.

Well, they don't have to wait that much any longer - as the really, really good new is ...  I will definitely be able to move into a brandnew creative studio over the coming weeks. A new place to work in, to draw, paint, create with whatever means and materials I feel like. A place, where Witty Art can and will be created.

A move, that will also mark a new creative collaboration as well! I will elaborate more on that in a later stage - but for those of you who cannot contain their curiosity, it's got everything to do with the new workplace & projectspace of Studio PuRRR!

Please keep an eye on this blog for more detailed information coming up SOON!


maandag 13 februari 2017

More EarthRocks & MoonSwings travelled to a happy new home!

A while back, I wrote about the new additions to my series ''EarthRocks & MoonSwings''. Started back in 2012, I never thought that this Galaxic Bromance would turn out to be one of my most popular and best-selling series.

Part of the reason why this series is so succesful, I think is because of its almost unbearable overdosage of cute - this is a series primarily about unconditional friendship, of a bond that can't be broken, for being there for each other, no matter what. Relationships like those are very hard to come by, as Life constantly shapes and influences friendships and puts them to the test.

So, when asked to draw more of these because one buyer had absolutely fallen in love with them and really wanted to give one to his brother who was getting married, I felt motivated to draw a couple more. And in total, 11 new ''EarthRocks & MoonSwings'' have seen the light! Will add them to the Series Galleries soon!

And guess what, almost immediately after sharing them on my Facebook page, another buyer stepped forward and purchased one, too. And so, a couple of weeks ago, ''EarthRocks & MoonSwings #44'' moved to its happy new home - and judging by the picture buyer sent me the other day, I think they are in really great company!