woensdag 2 december 2015

Transformer finished!

SO I finally finished my Transformer!

I have had this idea for a long time and a couple of years ago I failed, because I used joints which were too weak and were hard to connect to the bone, but now they all work brilliantly! The hardest parts were to fit in an proper looking transformer within the skull and to make it stand on its own. How often have I changed the design of the feet and head to balance it and fit it all in there and several times I adjusted the place where joints needed to be.

The thing is with artists and ideas is not that they think really hard and the get one great idea and make it, but they get hundreds of ideas and they select one that seems to make sense, sort of. Well, this idea made a lot of sense, because it expresses my appreciation for nature, my curiosity towards death, my fascination with things that appear different then they are, my clinging on to some childhood toys etc. So it is a lot about me, but at the same time about a growing trend in our society where people don't seem to grow up in a certain way. They might become more responsible and have fancy jobs, but feel no embarrassment to express their love for childhood objects or pleasure. Besides, it also serves as a great way to show the contrast between artificial and natural that we subconsciously experience everyday! Whether it is in our manufactured food or when some people enjoy the outdoors while eating a sandwich in their car.
But above all, I just really wanted to have something like this!

This is a first version of a stop motion video to show the transformation from skull into robot:

Oh yes, and it took a lot, a lot of time to make this….

woensdag 11 november 2015

More than Meets the Eye

More than Meets the Eye, was the catch phrase of one of my favourite cartoons; The Transformers. If you have followed me on Facebook or my blog, you would now know that I have had little time to spend on making new sculptures and that this precious little time has all gone up in making just one sculpture. It is my way to have a feeling I have accomplished something in 2015 in art. It is not entirely finished, but nearly there and when I started, I was definitely not sure if this would work or not. Well, it did! Off course there are some elements I could have done differently, but doing something new is always a learning process and with that come new ideas. Frustratingly, because I still won't have much time next year.
However, there is one thing that I didn't manage to do and that is to make this Transformer easy to transform multiple times without getting damaged. Painting so far has been very frustrating with moving parts scratching each other before I have the time to add some protective varnish. Even with the varnish it will damage over time by transforming it. Besides, two joints won't have eternal life and it takes 10 minutes roughly to transform. But the plan was always to make a stop motion film or video of the process, so beside the finished pictures, I will show a video as being the next two things you can expect. For now I leave you with the latest work in progress pictures….

woensdag 29 juli 2015

'It's the economy stupid!'

The famous words from Bill Clinton 'It's the economy stupid', are subconsciously banging on my artistic brain and now it hammered through into my consciousness. Everybody knows they need to eat and therefor buy food and luckily I was able to, but where does making sculptures take me 10 years from now? Am I still able to afford doing this? I would really love to, because I love making these weird things and I love all the positive vibes I get from the general public! But as long as I can't eat positive air, I need to find a way to improve my income. I do sell and think I do quite well considering how I have started and the lack of an art network, but it isn't near a living wage. So I will take some time to plan how I financially can keep this going, because I still believe there is life in what I make, it is just so hard to get my art across.

Many people suggest solutions like internet, finding famous and/or rich people etc. But that is easy to say but hard to implement and so far it hasn't worked to earn as a normal professional. It seems I do sell when people meet me and see my art away from the screen and the comments I get are always good, often where people don't have to be positive. I am pretty sure it isn't politeness to say so, I think I genuinely have made good artworks that potentially could be very popular, but….

And before you think I am too much on the money, well making this a success also means reaching my main goal is to show my art to the world. These two just go parallel!

So I need to buy myself some time to be able to spot and get the chances I need to make this a success. So the next 12 months will be quiet, I will focus mainly on commissions and small sculptures if I do a fair…..and off course finish the epic Transformer.

Stay tuned, I keep creating and you help me in a great way to spread the word about my art!


vrijdag 27 maart 2015

My self portrait

Some of you know I am building a very complicated sculpture out of a sheep skull. I have tried it before, about 3 years ago, but failed and has been bugging me ever since. The concept of a toy like robot transforming out of a former living thing and transforming back into it excites me, but there is more to it!

Yes, somehow it has a lot of me in it, like me saying ‘fuck you’ to all pretentious art critics who would very quickly pigeonhole my work as not being art. But quite a lot of art became only accepted in retrospect, making artists die poor. Art has always been about doing something new and often that meant shocking. Would it be an interesting turn if the ‘new’ of today were only shocking to be not shocking, but actually a very gentle, perhaps childish revolution? This has partly been done by the CoBrA movement, but in a different way. I would want to mock the art world in the same way as CoBrA did, but also want to celebrate elements of our childhood that we seem to love more and more. People like me might often be seen as not having grown up when I celebrate the things I liked when I was 12, but I find that a misinterpretation of growing up. I think becoming an adult only means realizing and acting in line with your responsibilities. For me it doesn’t mean to become a boring serious grown up and I believe more and more people think the same way. My work would go further than just mocking pretentious artists and art lovers, I also want to mirror the growing number of adults who still embrace childhood joys. 
Coming back to the art world, there seems to be too many people that act as a boring and more elitist version of themselves by using over complicated language and seeing too many serious messages in art that were never intended.

So there I am being pretentious and announcing being this new thing, uh uh uh. Probably not, because you are only ‘the new thing’ if you are discovered and for that you need friends in high places, which I don’t have. There will probably be someone that has those friends who does something similar. Anyway, so why is this a mocking self-portrait? In realistic turns it are a few elements that really define me:

- The skull: I have always loved skulls and still do, but I also love nature in every form, life and death, probably because I grew up in an agricultural environment where you would start of life and the end of it, whether it would be in plants, animals or insects.

- The Transformer connection, part 1: I loved this cartoon and its toys when I was young. Mainly because of the hidden power of something ordinary transforming in something powerful. Isn’t everybody looking for his or her own ordinary self to transform in something powerful? Anyway, I never grew out of it. It could have been something else, the love for caterpillars, but I like the orderly, efficient and predictable ways of robots. That tells something about me as well; a part of me that wants to be efficient and orderly.

- The Transformer connection part 2: Besides my love for cartoons and the transformation of something ordinary into something powerful, I also mirror the image of a Transformer by looking at the path I took in life: the many different jobs I have had and which required me to learn and gain knowledge and skills. I am not saying here that I became powerful, but it is a transformation every time that felt as an achievement.

- Never been done: I often don’t like to do things that have been done before or do things the way everybody else does. It seems normal as an artist to be like that, but you would be surprised how conservative the art world is. How much it is about your art CV, your credentials, your friends in high places and making something that is marketable. Yes, even a lot of the so ‘shocking and innovative’ art is based on those elements and to me to be shocking in sex and death for example is just following the predictable line to be shocking and gain media attention, as in becoming known and then sell out, but all those artists are generally already known in a elite circle. …..and here I am making something less predictable, and in essence more shocking than the art elite does; avoiding the obvious shocking subjects. Shocking! Yes, because it would bore me to death to make art around death and I wouldn’t get excited making art about sex, or drugs for that matter. Therefor, I end up with something that hasn’t been done before. Besides, if there is one animal that would reflect the opposite of going a different way, it is a sheep and this sheep skull will get a massive transformation!

- The challenge: I like a challenge. I have started making sculptures without any education, courses or whatever. I am completely self-taught. I deliberately avoided seeing any art for the first 18 months to develop my own style and subjects and till this day I can proudly say I truly make original art. Perhaps not to everybody’s taste, but it is me, my style and I love what I make. This all sounds lovely, but it is by far from easy and so far the biggest challenge in my life. Not to get the skills to make my sculptures, but to get my work shown and was unpleasantly surprised by the closed minds in the art world. Yet, I have loved the response of the general public during fairs who have always topped me up with energy to push on.
So this sculpture also reflects the challenge to become an artist and to make something I like without any ideas whether someone would buy it. That has always been my base attitude. It might not be clear when this sculpture is finished, because it will look great and lot of people would probably love it, but I already spend 100 hours on getting the hinges in…so it would be very pricey and without rich celebrities knowing me, no one would have the money to buy it.

Who would have thought this would be behind this sculpture? More Than Meets The Eye!

…or maybe I just made it up to be more high brow…

woensdag 31 december 2014

Building a Transformer out of a skull part 3

So the end of 2014 is getting really close and I am thinking of how to fill my time making sculptures. I have always many ideas and said to myself to focus a bit more on the type of sculptures I have, because otherwise people don't know what I am about as an artist. Well, so I have been thinking about old projects and how to do them better or slightly different and come back to me making my first Transformer.

So this was many years ago and based on Optimus Prime; a robot that transforms out of a lasagne package and back. Two years later I tried to make one out of a real sheep skull, but failed. It started with many pieces of skull:

Eventually, the project failed on joints that kept breaking away from the bone, but the last few days I spend some time, not too much, with my old first generation Transformers and this idea is getting very tempting again! So 2015 might see a Transformer that transforms out of a real sheep skull, but it is going to be a frustrating journey without doubt!

dinsdag 23 december 2014

The typical looking back looking forward....

Like everybody else at the end of the year, you look back and forward, but I also think about the plans I had for this year and how I have lived up to my plan. Sounds all very systematic and thorough, but it isn't. Generally my plan consists of something like: Try and get 2 exhibitions and do a couple of fairs and create a new paint style or something. This year my plan was even more simple: focus on the types of sculptures I have and anything I get done is bonus. Why? Because the main plan was to prepare for fatherhood and take care of baby and mother when 'it' arrived. So that is why it has all been a bit slow and why I have only done Strummercamp, Kendal Comic Festival and a short exhibition in the Manchester Climbing Centre.

I am pleased to have progressed on the bike part and bone sculptures and to have restored to key pieces like the Wile E Coyote 2D sculpture and the Spongebob Fossil. So I stuck to my plan of not making new types of sculptures, because otherwise it all gets very random, I think. I think people should be able to easily recognize what I make and I already make so many different types of art: Skulls, Urban Scoundrels, 2D sculptures, drawings, Fictional Fossils, Fridge magnets, Bike parts and bones sculptures and other mixed media sculptures.

It is difficult to stay on 'just' these types of art, because I have loads of other ideas which can be great, but.... aahhh! People who know me als know I have often been busy making a board game..., I am also making t-shirts, cards, would love to make a calendar and this is al next to the many ideas I have for new types of sculptures. Pfff...the more I think about these, the more I talk about these with others, the more ideas I get.

So what shall I do for next year? Still not sure, at least I want to make more bone and bike part sculptures and do a few more fairs than last year. For the rest, I might indulge myself to make something new, but all is still more limited while taking care of my only living sculpture I have ever made! We will see, I won't stop that is for sure!

woensdag 19 november 2014

Where do you get your bones from?

There are two things I always hear from people when they see my work at fairs, festivals or exhibitions:
They will first mention; 'I have never seen anything like this before' when they move onto the question; 'Where do you get your bones from'? First, I thank you all for the first comment! I consider that to be a great compliment, because I don't like making what other people have made! I want to answer your question in this blog post.

Unlike some of you that wonder whether I go out to kill innocent animals in the wild, steal dead animals from Abattoirs or simply eat loads of meet to keep the bones while making the local butcher rich….I just collect the bones in the wild when the animal has already died. Big or small I use both, but  different sizes means different ways of collection in my case and will explain how I deal with the small animals this time.

I often go out running or cycling and if you keep an eye out you will see a lot of small animals dead on paths and roads. Most of them, especially in very busy urban areas, will be quite useless because half of the bones are broken by cars driving over them multiple times. Key is to find roadkill that hasn't felt the hard side of our society's favourite mode of transport to often: How flat is it? If it still has an 'natural' shape, does it still have eyes or an intact rectum? If yes, it probably died in the last 24 hours and is probably not hit very often. Small animals like this will loose a lot of hard material like nails, vertebrae and teeth very quickly. So I often collect the whole animal and place it in my garden so I can control its decay and make sure I get most of the bones.

This summer I find a grey squirrel while out on the bike and took it home. Interesting to see how quickly flies came on it.

On the same they when this squirrel died

On the same they when this squirrel died, took extra care to trap the tail bones, hope it works!

After one and a half week where you already see lots of maggots in its head, no those are not teeth!

I didn't have time to clean it, but it is ready now to strip it down into bones and I will still expect some flesh turned into 'leather' and lots of fur, but besides that it should be clean of any other soft tissue. Then I will keep it exposed in a tray for the winter to come in a sunny place to prevent algae growing in the bone. If you want white bones, make sure you are quick enough from this stage to separate the bones from the tissue and remove them from the soil, because the soil will give it a brownish colour. But if that happens I can always make a fridge magnet installation on my fridge or like I did two years ago; split them an spread them around the city as an easter hunt if you have a hare or rabbit: