How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve been doing artsy stuff for a while without taking it really seriously. In 2014, I was under severe medication for several months, a period of my life that affected my judgment on many things. I decided to radically stop medication and use the weaning period of 3 months to start a brand new project in collage, a technique I’ve never done before. The goal was to work seriously, at a bigger scale, away from computers, and to involve myself in the pieces I wanted to create.
How would you describe your creative style?
Nervous, plain, psychedelic and vibrant. Some find it scary and tortured but I completely disagree.
What’s your inspiration?
With the collage work, I try to implement a lot of personal elements into my work. Some pieces can be seen as specific periods of my life, so the inspiration comes mostly from past experiences. I’m also a huge fan of constructivism, suprematism, avant-garde and all the Bauhaus theories that have been and keep being an inspiration in everything I do. As influences, I can name Rodchenko, Klutsis, Senkin, Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, Gropius. But for collages, it’s Fred Tomaselli that I am basically ripping-off, and all kinds of collagists that have their own technique.
What is art to you?
I still can’t figure that out. Artist is a term that too many people easily qualify themselves with and it always made me feel uncomfortable. I even make a distinction between artists and art, like for instance in music I consider some of the musicians I listen to be artists, but they’re just making songs to me. Same with photography: it’s really hard for me to consider photographers as artists and even photography as art. It’s an undefined and messed up point of view, I guess.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Small pieces can be done rather quickly, from a few hours to one day, but bigger pieces (140x100cm) can take up to 3 weeks. I never start a new piece before finishing up one.
How do you keep motivated?
I don’t, and that is a huge issue. I’m a severe workaholic and don’t spend much time on my artwork projects, I don’t have any process or daily habit to keep me busy in a creative way. Inspiration for new pieces comes out of the blue without a specific reason, and the urgency to make it is my main motivation. Sometimes I do absolutely nothing for several months, then create several pieces in just a few weeks. It’s a rather chaotic process.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
I’ve been lucky enough to be raised in a family where art was valued. I attended countless exhibitions and visited tons of museums when I was very young. That helped me to keep an open mind about art, but at the same time made me very critical and blasé about most of the art I see these days. Regarding the city I live in, Brussels, Belgium, well, it’s not the most exciting place in Europe for art, even if it is slightly better over the last few years. Since I travel a lot for work, I constantly get influences and inspiration from all the cities I visit.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I already accomplished most of the goals I could have dreamed of, but I would definitely be happy to have my work in a contemporary art museum. If possible, before I die.
How have others reacted to your work?
Either they love it, or they hate it. Very few people are completely indifferent to it. And many people hating it still admit being somehow fascinated or intrigued by it. They all like the fact that there’s “a lot to look at” which is already good for me.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
From the very beginning of this collage work, I wanted people to see something that will mark their day. How many webpages, commercials, tv ads or any other kind of visuals are we seeing every day? When was the last time you were truly astonished by a visual piece? I wanted to give a slap, to visually wake up people in their daily routine. Especially here in Brussels, where, in my humble opinion, the art market is too consensual and more centered on decoration than on bold artistic creation.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Don’t worry. Things will get better.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“You should do things more seriously and not consider everything you make as a joke, you stupid idiot.”
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Don’t confuse graphic design and art. Graphic design requires knowledge, technique, empathy and creativity. That’s the way you can deliver to clients. But for art, it’s just about yourself and your will to give feelings to an audience.
What are your thoughts on art school?
From what I know about art schools, I don’t have a lot of positive thoughts or direct experience. Still, I should have considered going to one when I was younger. It just didn’t happen. But is there really a way to learn how to be an artist? Or do art schools only exists to hatch the artistry of some?
What’s your dream project?
Oddly I don’t have any dream in the art field in terms of accomplishment, so maybe the thing I hope to reach one day is to have a better place to work at a bigger scale and more free time to put into my artwork.
What art supplies do you use?
Mostly old books, then magazines when the quality off the paper is sufficient. I use surgical scissors and scalpels, a very basic paper glue (the kind we all had at school), 100x70cm stock paper most of the time, gold ink, phosphorescent ink, Posca pens, and acrylic paint. The resin is a mix of products I buy in the UK in bulk.
What’s your process like?
It always starts with a ridiculous sketch that highlights how terrible I am at drawing, but it’s mostly to fix the ideas somewhere. Then I draw a shape on black stock with chalk, and start filling it with cut-outs that I gathered from all kinds of sources. When the collage part is done, I add painting, phosphorescent ink and gold ink. Before pouring resin on the piece, I take high-res photos and add a layer or two of varnish without solvent, otherwise the resin will destroy it all. I then mix chemical products to make 2 or 3 kilos of resin and pour it on the piece in layers. Once poured I use a hair dryer to remove the tiny bubbles and spread out the resin more evenly on the whole piece. It takes usually 2 or 3 days to completely dry depending on the number of resin layers. Some pieces have additional painting on top of the resin. I like to share the process on Twitter, Instagram and Behance, so people can understand better the size and materials, as well as get a better idea of the finished piece. I also make timelapses and hyperlaspes that turn the process into very hypnotizing animations. Sharing the process is really important to me.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
Art galleries should be focused more on discovering artists instead of securing sales to their portfolio of clients with uninventive pieces of art.