I have an interview/feature in the latest edition of Joia Magazine.
Full interview, in English:
Date and place of birth and place of actual residence, please.
04-03-1977, Izegem, Belgium.
I currently live in Heestert, Belgium.
In art, do you think “strange” or “weird” are only defined by statistics, or there other factors besides being unusual?
I guess it’s a personal thing.
What I think is weird might be perfectly normal to you, or the other way around.
I think it has to do with how much fantasy you have, your personality, sense of humor,
upbringing, taste, etc.
I find that the weirdest art is often not meant to be weird.
For example, outsider art can be deliciously weird just because it’s so genuine and real.
I’ve read you feel influenced by Francis Bacon and James Ensor, besides 80s cartoon, which could be easier to tell. What can you tell us about those painters related to your work?
Years before I started sharing my work on the internet, I made paintings that looked like bad
Not because I wanted to copy what he did, but because it inspired me so much.
The work I’m making today is very different. Definitely more cartoon-influenced.
But he remains my favorite painter and I still count him as a major influence.
Ensor is more visible in what I do now.
He painted a lot of masks and weird figures.
In many ways his work has a cartoony quality.
If he’d live in this era, I think he’d be painting cheap Japanese toys.
Do you think people are grotesque? Why?
Grotesque might not be the right word.
But there’s something disgusting and at the same time attractive going on with people.
More so than the individual, I think society is grotesque.
All you can do is look at it in disbelief, shake your head and wonder why.
What materials do you use in your paintings and illustrations?
It varies. Mostly a mix of gouache and watercolors.
I like to make oil paintings too, it just takes more time.
I’m a bit too impatient now but I can see myself turning to oil painting later on.
Are you fully dedicated to art now, or you still have another job?
Yes, I have a day job.
I have a wife and child and I’ve got bills to pay.
If that wasn’t the case, I’d probably be fully dedicated to art.
How did you get to participate in Completoburger? What can you tell us about that book?
RANO (an artist and designer from Chile, aka "Acido de vainilla") contacted me through Flickr,
asking me if I wanted to send him one of my creatures for a book he was putting together.
The theme was funky burger/junkfood-art.
It turned out to be a really cool and beautiful little book.
I’m glad I was part of it.
Your work has appeared in publications from many countries, how do you take that worldwide recognition? And how was the process to get that recognition?
I take it with a grain of salt.
A few years ago I started posting my stuff on Flickr.
I didn’t have a plan, I just made things and shared them.
If you keep doing something long enough the recognition will grow, slowly but surely.
I’m in a better position now than I was a few years ago
but I don’t see any reason to get big-headed about that, you’re as good as your last work.
Is there a particular message in your work in general or each piece has totally different meanings?
I’m not the kind of guy that wants to put a big message or opinion in everything I do.
On the other hand… I believe somehow everything carries a message or meaning.
What I’m trying to do is create these characters and environments that can take the viewer away to a strange fantasy land for a moment.
If I succeed in doing that, that’s the main thing for me.
I see it as a form of entertainment.
If I can entertain people with my work, amuse them or maybe scare them a little, then I’m happy.
How’s your work with clients? Do you get many instructions and directions or they come with general ideas and trust your ability to give shape to it?
They mostly come with a general idea or how the image should look and let me do my thing.
I leave some room for minor tweaking in the end and that’s it.
If I’d have to follow instructions all the time, I’d feel like nothing more than a tool.
There’s no way I could work like that.
I like to have some personal satisfaction from my work, other than money, even if it’s for clients.
Have you got bad critics from people and/or “art specialists” some time? How did you take it?
Oh, sure. When you’re putting work out you’re bound to run into critics sooner or later.
It doesn’t bother me that much. You can’t please everyone.
Besides, I think it’s healthy to be your own critic.
Evaluating your own skills as painter and illustrator: what areas or elements you feel you already master or close to that and what do you feel you want to improve?
There’s always room for improvement with everything I do. It keeps me going.
Technical skills can be mastered.
But what I feel is much more important, is finding your own voice.
That’s way more important than being able to make a flawless drawing.