Artist Interviews 2023

Tymon de Laat  
By Julia Siedenburg

Tymon de Laat is an incredibly talented Dutch painter and street artist whose work decorates surfaces of different places and things all over the world. His beautifully vibrant and vividly painted pictures are simply breathtaking. His impressively detailed subject’s faces seem like they could come alive in front of your eyes any moment now. You can see the love and dedication that went into each and every piece he has crafted so far. I am in awe of his creations and I truly deeply hope to be able to experience one of them in person one day! I am so happy that Tymon had the time to tell us a bit more about his inspirations and influences. Please enjoy your interview below, dear reader!

In your opinion, what is special about creating street art?

Painting in the street is something very special for me, the biggest difference with creating studio work is the interaction with the local inhabitants. This is where I find a lot of images and stories that can lead to a new project which I can visually tell in other parts of the world. Also the effect of the work being made directly tangible in its surroundings and the following impact it has on that society

Where do you take your inspiration from?

Most of my work is inspired by a natural curiosity toward travel and exploration. It all started really after finishing the Academy of Art in Rotterdam in 2001 where I decided to pack my bags and a tent and leave for Mexico with a return ticket from Argentina and 3000 dollars for a year in my pocket. In an attempt to step away from the comfort of home and see if I could survive by myself, I set off on this trip. It turned out that 8 dollars a day are not a lot to live off for eating, drinking, sleeping, and getting to the next place. This meant i had to travel low budget. the biggest lesson I learned there is that I don't need a lot to live a full-filled life. Relying on the kindness of strangers opened my mind to see a different kind of wealth that the Latin Americans were more than happy to share with me, their sense of the community is now what I consider real wealth. Here conversations started with locals and they have impacted me up to the present day these interactions are still feeding my inspiration to date.

How do you choose your subjects? Are the people based on someone you know or from your imagination?

Portraits I paint I usually meet along my travels by documenting them and their stories with my camera in order to create an image bank of my own to be used as future references. I like to portray people that maybe don't get the chance to travel the world themselves and take them to other parts of the world where they end up on a big wall or on a canvas in a collection far away. the contrast. The camera is a great tool to start a conversation in the streets by taking photos and asking for their permission, this gives me the chance to explain that I am an artist and my purpose. Usually, they like the idea that their image might end up somewhere in a different part of the world and that it will tell a story about their cultural identity. The bigger the contrast between the person portrayed and the painting’s location, the more questions it raises and makes for a starting point for a conversation.

Your impressive and lively murals have decorated buildings, garage doors, business rooms, and even automobiles. Do you have a favorite piece that you have created? If so, which one is it and why?

Picking a wall of painting is hard, it's like asking me to choose my favorite child :) But some projects/murals have meant a step up in the technical ability to overcome personal challenges. One of my first bigger portraits I painted in my home town Rotterdam called "Madre Tierra" This marked a turning point for me in the direction where my work is heading nowadays.

Tell us about the Eurovision Wall. How did this come about and how did you get the idea for the final outcome?

The Eurovision Wall idea came to life when the Rotterdam Municipality announced hosting the world’s biggest music festival. Their theme was "open up" with which I saw a direct link with my personal vision for my work. Once I saw they used a mural of mine in a video to profile Rotterdam's identity i decided to send the municipality a message and pitch my idea. their response was very positive and the process started. I wanted to paint the portrait of the Dutch entree Jeangu Macrooy for the festival and incorporate elements of his song into the design.

Please tell us about your childhood and upbringing. Has art always been a part of your life?

As a kid I always enjoyed drawing and painting as many artists probably did, I was far from being a natural talent but the interest was there, and willing to spend time on it and discover this visual language. I come from a family with writers like my father and painters and sculptors, so one might say that creativity runs in my blood. But only after coming back from my first year-long trip to Latin America at the age of 24, I decided that being an artist would be my life path, before that time it was just something I enjoyed doing.

In which way does living and working in Rotterdam influence your work?

For me Rotterdam always has been a perfect breeding ground, the city is big but not huge which means that it is relatively easy to make connections and get to know fellow interested people and facilitators. Also, Rotterdam is a new city as the heart of it got destroyed in WWII which meant that a lot of walls were created in the rebuilding era, potentially making a lot of canvasses for street-related art. I think this is why we have many muralists in this town and we all try and grow together as much as possible.

Besides your powerful murals, you have also painted your beautiful portraits on canvases.Do you have a different approach depending on what materials you use to draw on?

For me painting is painting, on a canvas or wall it is all the same in essence. But the materials I use for canvas work differ from walls, on canvas I use mostly acrylic paint and brushes. For walls, this is predominantly spray paint. As for the conceptual side of it, it is all the same.

You have been fortunate to be invited all over the world to create your murals. Do you have a specific destination that you dream of painting at?

Yes, I feel very fortunate to have had the possibility to paint all over the world and I like to do most of my work in places where I have not traveled before. So that leaves many places open to painting. Usually, I like to paint in smaller communities as the impact the work has on its surroundings is more directly tangible. But to be honest i would also like to paint some big walls in the world’s metropolitan cities where I would portray people from small unknown communities to start conversations. So there is a bit of a contradiction there I guess.

What are your plans for the future? What is next?

There are some nice projects in the pipeline for this year, most of which I rather not talk about up until the moment they are confirmed. But I can say that NY is happing later this year in June and Bonaire at a later stage (a small island just off the coast of Venezuela) Other than that i will be painting some more walls in Europe and the Netherlands, especially my beloved Rotterdam.

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