- Niels de Jong
- From: Netherlands
- Current location: Berlin
Niels and I first met through his art when he had a show at Oslo Kaffeebar and I was immediately drawn to his work. At the first ´Little Dudes´ exhibit I finally had the chance to briefly meet with him. On a snowy Berlin evening we meet over coffee and cake to discuss his work a little more.
Niels de Jong grew up within a creative family. “When I was young, I grew up with my dad and granddad doing lots of creative stuff, my dad who was an art teacher and was drawing in his sketchbook most of the time, painting or working on wood cuts and prints. My grandpa had a wood working space in the basement of their house where he gave workshops and when we would visit we were always making something.”
Consequently, he was drawing a lot. Niels would draw and paint all over his bedroom walls and his parents were loving it and proudly taking pictures. “My parents were always very supportive of my creative endeavors.”
However, Niels went to a high school with more traditional subjects which didn’t really interest him. So, he left to attend a creative school that offered courses like bookbinding, basic graphic design and printmaking.
After high school and another four years of studies, where Niels learned more about graphic design, 3-D design and sculpture – he moved to Amsterdam to attend an art academy in Utrecht. Niels studied Urban Design (urban interior architecture) and would design public spaces with a focus on streets, squares and street furniture.
“When I got my bachelor degree I was still not very satisfied and not sure this was what I wanted to do as a career. So instead of looking for a job I began to focus more on illustration and painting. After living in Amsterdam for about 8 years, it was time for something new; my girlfriend had moved from Barcelona to Berlin and I decided to move to Berlin as well and everything just fell into place.”
Moving to Berlin was a turning point for Niels, “When I moved to Berlin I just wanted to focus just on my art and try to support myself. I spend a lot of time developing my style and working on my artistic voice and Berlin is the perfect place to do that.”
Neils explains how his style has developed. “When I was studying architecture I was already developing a style and at one point I was really focused on geometric shapes and very tight lines. We also learned a lot about the natural environment – and how the two work together. It wasn’t just all concrete and man-made materials, there would have to be a harmony between the two. I always liked to combine tight lines made of, for example, concrete with green spaces, the contrast would really make the design. Now I use a different medium to express myself but I still stay true to the combination of geometric and organic shapes.”
As far as inspiration, he says, “I can be inspired by a lot of different things. For example, when I’m on the street I see all different kinds of lines and how they are connected to each other and I would then use that imagery to make a composition. So architecture, the city life and nature still influence me. I’m also a huge toy and bird lover, both are also a big inspirations.“
Exploring and adventure are also very important to Niels. When he first moved to Berlin, he would get on his bike and just ride around, exploring the city. “I actually do that everywhere I go, it’s a part of my creative impulse and I try to implement that in my work as well. So I love it when people say they see different things in my artwork, it’s great for me when people get a sense of adventure and exploration from my work.”
Usually his work is a mixture of commissioned and personal work, but at the moment, Niels is focusing a bit more on personal projects. He is focused on creating a whole new body of work in addition to working on a series of art toys.
Niels is also working on several wood sculptures and still feels the need to use a variety of different mediums to be creative.
He’ll be traveling for the next month to Argentina, it will be interesting to see what influences from his travels materialize in his work. Although he doesn’t have anything in particular planned in terms of painting, no matter where he travels he always looks for opportunities to paint and do/try new things.