Kunny van der Ploeg (NL)

Kunny van der Ploeg (NL)

If you'rev familiar with the blog, you may have noticed that one of the goal was to show how international the rock poster scene is. Unfortunatly, most of the medias related to it are US based only, and this is one of the reason why gigposters.com is so important. Thanks to the book published by the site, I discovered a new dutch artist I am particulary proud to introduce you today.....

Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you?

Ha, it really depends on what I am doing; Often when I start working on a poster I begin with listening to the music of the particular band I have to design for, but, to be honest with you it is often really quiet here in my studio! I need silence when i am working on an idea. I like to quietly browse through books and doodle around and let my thoughts flow. Classical music sometimes is great as a background though. Once i have an idea and start creating I like listening to the more, how to say it, 'calm' country and blues, Mississippi John Hurt is a good favourite at the moment, as well as some of Doc Watson but also The Doors, Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Waits... erm...Reigning Sound... While screenprinting i love to put up some more energetic stuff and play it loud; early rock n' roll, rockabilly, country, bluegrass, garage rock, psychedelic soul and all the nice genres that you get when you mix those styles. King Khan's always great music to print on, or Reverend Horton Heat, that kind of energy.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

Well, I'm a freelancing graphic designer // illustrator living in the north of the Netherlands in a lovely little city called Groningen. I went to Academie Minerva art college here in town, and also did a year of art school in Exeter, in the UK. After getting my degree here I moved to Edinburgh for two years to get my master in graphic design. I really enjoyed living abroad and i learned so much from it, I can say it really shaped me, not only education wise. It really widened my horizons in every way. As for graphics / illustration; I met so many people form all over the world who taught and showed me new things, who showed me different books, designs, artists, films, views on life etc. So it was very inspiring. I also learned screenprinting en in general there was a lot of interest in 'the handmade' in my year. Authentic designmethods with letterpess, collages, screenprinting; things i was already into, but developed strongly. The nice thing about living abroad is that ordinary things become special, at least for a while. Somehow you're more focussed on getting everything out of your time (there), and you're more aware of your surroundings. I tried to keep that feeling when i returned to my home land, even though it's easier to sink back into a certain routine and not notice what's around you. One of the things i did to keep the workflow going was to join the Art Division of the Vera Club, in 2007, I think the best venue for underground music in the Netherlands. They're the only venue that still creates a unique screenprinted gigposter for every show they have, in a little attic in-house studio. That's how i got into creating posters and that's where i can experiment with styles en develop myself continuously. We are completely free to create what we want, as long as the poster is legible. That amount of creative freedom is priceless. And it's a great showcase for your work.

When did you start drawing?

I think that started very early, like most children I loved to draw, and I did it a lot. More then nowadays I can say. Around the age of 6 or 7 i got pretty serious about it, my father gave me a proper hardcover sketchbook and some good pencils and i also went to see my first real exhibition, of Frans Hals paintings. I remember the portraits very vividly. I bought some postcards of my favourite paintings and i still have them. I also liked copying the drawings and paintings my parents had framed on the walls. And arranging little still lifes and draw those. Yes, somehow along the way i lost that dedication to drawing again, I mainly use my sketchbooks for shopping lists and notes nowadays.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

I did go to art school but I cannot really say my drawing techniques improved there, since in my graphic design courses was not that much attention for drawing techniques. I never really did life drawing in art school and only started to follow a course last year in my spare time, which was great. I do not really see myself as a 'drawer', I use drawing for sketches and doodles, but my illustrations are usually papercuts, collages or a combination of that. But I am always jealous of people with sketchbooks full of daily observations, visual diaries so to say. I'd love to do that too, and develop a unique drawing style of my own. Which starts with learning the academic techniques, in my opinion. Of course I learnt a lot about concept, about composition, about executing ideas in various ways. So in that way my visuals improved a lot, of course. But drawing is just not a main characteristic of the way i work.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

It's a big part of my income, but since freelancing is always kind of risky and unpredictable, I also work a couple of hours in the bar of an art house cinema; to make sure i can pay the rent and to have an every now and then break from the solitary studio work and have some interaction with colleagues. Besides that I can go to the movies for free, a benefit not to be underestimated.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

I do occasional editorial illustrations for magazines, yes.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

ooof, there are so many people that inspire me that sometimes I get an artist block :)

Yes, many influences come into my head, from way back in the days, the pioneers that started to use photomontage and collage and experimental lettering; the Dadaists, the surrealists, Russian avant garde book and posterdesigners, Polish and Czech postermakers; people with an open attitude towards the use of various materials and found imagery and objects, works with a genuine authenticity and originality. People that work in the realm of both art and design. I'm also very intrigued by the (applied) arts from (former) communist countries; the highly inventive ways of communicating your ideas in restricted regimes with a lot of censorship. I love it when a work communicates on different levels, that demands something from the viewer, that reveals multiple meanings. A couple of names; Berlin dadaists Hanna Hoch &Raoul Hausmann, Russians El Lissitzky and Rodchenko for their photmontage (and great childrens books too!), Czech (film)postermaker Karl Teissig, who created such inventive and intelligent works... Polish designers Roman Cieslewicz, Jan Lenica, the very surreal stop motion animations by Jan Svankmajer, also Czech, and the Quay Brothers. Then there's UK artist Eduardo Paolozzi, whom I will always mention as an inspiration for his amazing variety of work, as well in screenprinting as in sculpture and textiles. A few contemporary favorites are UK illustrators Graham Rawle and Sara Fanelli, US book designer Chip Kidd, postermaker Michel Casarramona, especially for his great handlettering and drawing skills and I could go on for ages. A recent exhibition curated by Rick Poynor called 'Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design' contained many artists that I mentioned above, and it's well worth looking that one up online if you have similar interests.

What are the principal steps in your work ?

Forming a loose concept, and let a lot of space open for chance and 'lucky accicdents'.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

A real 50 50 combination of both, though I use the computer mainly as a tool for assembling, arranging and messing around with scanned in hand made elements and found imagery and objects. I do not like digital effects and always strive for the hand made look.

How long does it take you to do a poster?

A week on average, of which a main part is thinking thinking and then creating and collecting various loose elements that I connect with the music and the feel of the band, then about 3 days of shifting and scaling and combining those elements and the actual printing takes one day.
You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?

I like to have a good conversation with a client before starting a job, and try to find out what his or her wishes are, and try to find out why they came to me. Usually then you can come to a final piece you're both happy with.

It's trying to find the right balance between meeting those wishes and at the same time be true to your own artistic values. So i'd ask that someone why he wants that painting and why he comes to someone like me who mainly makes collages and gigposters to do an oil painting of horses. I'd actually be really curious to find out. The conversation might turn out that he ends up realising that getting a collage with machine horses staring into the dark woods is something much more suitable. If he still wants the oil painting with horses, I'm probably not the right person to do it, cause I'd have to take an education in painting first, and then anatomy lessons....etcetc. It's cost me 10 years!

No but seriously;

I'm always up for new things and for other peoples input but there are limits, if someone has such specific wishes as in 'I want a logo, it has to be blue and square and you have to put it in such and such a way' then i feel like a marionette. Same as with the oil painting horses question. I have ideas and opinions about certain visual problems and I do not want to be used mainly as a tool for executing someone elses ideas...Maybe not even if i really need the money, because it'd give me such a bad feeling.

For which band have you already worked for?

Many bands....From local bands to famous bands to not so famous bands; all played at the Vera Club and I loved all of the work. As long as i like the music and get inspired to make a poster both the band and i are happy with the job is a succes.

For which band would you love to work?

I do not have a particular wish for the moment to be honest, every job's a challenge, no matter if the band is dead famous or a local gem. As long as I love the music and i have creative freedom it's great no matter what. The underground scene suits me pretty well I have to say. There's a lot of space for your own input as a designer.

Do you choose the artists yourself?

Yes, most of the time. All the artists that come to the Vera Club are on this list, and you can sign up for the ones you like to design for. Everyone in the group has his or her favorite genres, and ususally those do not clash that much so there are no designer fights.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

Getting started, most definitely

You feature in the new gigposters 2 book, how did you find yourself involved in it ?

I submit all my posters to gigposters.com, cause it's a great community, and so i was approached by Clay Hayes one day if I wanted to submit some of my posters, a happy day that made me feel very honoured!

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?

Not so much stylewise because there are so many styles involved, but I think I am part of the current gigposterscene in general, yes. Screenprints that is. A scene that is pretty huge in the US, and growing in Europe due to the awareness that events like Flatstock Europe in Hamburg create.

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?

In real life; at the Vera Club in Groningen, or every now and then at a Flatstock convention, at exhibitions ; I am currently showing work at the Goodfoot Gallery in Portland, USA, in a show called the Art of Musical Maintenance 8, opening December 1st, and we're organising another show in Groningen soon around January next year during the Eurosonic Festival.

Besides that of course in Gigposters Volume II, the book by Clay Hayes

and online at my website http://www.kunnyvanderploeg.nl/, and http://www.vera-groningen.nl/ and at gigposters.com

The best praise you received lately?

Seeing my posters being ripped off the walls at the Vera Club, people coming up to me saying they have my posters in their living room, things like that. People who collect my work. Chatham County Line mentioning my poster on their blog, after treating me with one of the best concerts of the year at Vera.

What can we wish you for the future?

Being able to live off my work completely, creating tonnes of more posters and keeping on trying new things and develop myself as a designer, maybe also teaching a bit in the future, sharing ideas with students and being able to inspire aspiring designers.

Thanks for answering my questions and see you soon on the website !!

thanks to you too for showing an interest

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