“I have always been a very visual person and graffiti was a way to express myself.”
Rutger de Vries
Who are you? What do you do?
I’m a multidisciplinary visual artist. You could describe my practice as Post-Graffiti Art. My work is autobiographical and based on my experiences as a Graffiti writer and trained Graphic Designer.
Where are you from?
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Your style in 3 words?
Color — Tag — Abstraction
Your weakness? Your strength?
Weakness: I always make a mess
Strenght: My open-ended experimentation
What makes you different?
There is always something between me and my work, which is either a tool or a machine. This way of working makes me anonymous as an artist. An example is my installation Spraypaint printer II. In which I let my machine paint for me by feeding software into it.
When did you decide to become artist?
I have been creative, as long as I can remember. I definitely got it from my mother who used to be an artist as well. I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands where I got into contact with graffiti at a young age. I was not really the best student but graffiti helped me to figure out what my strengths were. I have always been a very visual person and graffiti was a way to express myself. After high school I knew that I wanted to go to art school and study graphic design. At this moment graphic design seemed the most related to graffiti and street art to me. Since both worlds focus on typography, color and graphical shapes. Although my personal work already became more abstract and autonomous during my studies, I started working as a full-time graphic designer afterwards. At the same time I continued using graphic design to present my autonomous work. Besides my visit to the Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012 planted the seed in my head that what I really wanted to do is making art. At some point I realized I needed to get away from the computer screen. Ideas were stacking up and I wanted to focus on my own practice as an artist rather than to work for clients.
What do you find most fascinating about the creative process/your work?
A new piece of work is always a reaction to one of my previous works. I always try to improve a previous work. I try to make it more impactful. I’m interested in working with large installations, so I might try to scale it up in size, for example. I’m fascinated when art work is infinite and boundless. There never is an end to one my art works. In contrary they build up on each other. That’s what I find very satisfying and challenging at the same time.
A few words about your favourite creation?
I’m very proud of the previously mentioned Spraypaint Printer II since I developed the machine from scratch myself. Together with two very great technicians, I learned a lot about programming and constructing.
Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…
Sol Lewitt, Daniel Buren, Gordon Matta-Clark, Katharina Grosse, Roman Signer.
A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?
I’m working on several new paint installations involving fire extinguishers. As well as on a machine that etches into glass using acid. Besides there are great international collaborations coming up.
Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“
Being free. On the other hand my career makes it possible for me to express myself freely. Making art is an expression of total freedom for me. I think being an artist is not only a career but it is a way of life and for me it is freedom as well.
2017: Where are we going?
But like I mentioned before, I’m currently working with materials that are new to me so this is something to explore. Besides I’m introducing new elements into my installations. Furthermore I’m ending my residency at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam shortly. If you’re around you please drop by for the rijksOPEN at the end of November.
When the going gets tough…
I always keep on going. I need to produce work in order to reflect on it. Failing is an essential part of experimentation.
Your city’s favourite spots?
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, mini galerie, Bar Joost, ‘t nieuwe diep, ADM, Kriterion, Artis, NDSM, Toolstation, Hornbach, Henxs
Do you have a vision?
A colorful future.
Tell us about your future plans…
I’ll move to Berlin in the beginning of 2018 and look forward to explore the art scene there. I will be looking for collaborations and of course I will make new, fresh work!
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