applied art - a contradictio in terminis happily applied on this blog

illustrations / projects / picture books / story telling / applied art

Friday, 16 December 2016


2013/2014 Graduating in Art, part 1 (yet again) 


Is there any other kind?

After the last exam... 

It took me exactly one day of hanging in front of the tube, watching movies, and hugging the dog (until he almost puked), to crawl out of the dark and stinky cave of failure. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to dwell somewhat longer, it was because there was no choice in the matter. You have to understand that when you attend and academy or a university at a ‘certain age’, it’s like a killer contract. It’s about honor. The covenant is not with the school or other students or other muggles, it’s with the devil. In this situation it is actually soul sucking to fail. So, you will rise or climb or fight your way out of any apocalyptic hole. And just carry on. Smiling. It’s actually really creepy. 

I thought about the work I had already done. I glanced again at my self-portrait as Red Ridinghood, I looked more television (that was still on), I saw Morgan Freeman talk about memory, I remembered my father’s photographs and badabingbadaboom… I knew what to do.

The devil winked at me like a proud professor.

And now, this is exactly why you should never ask any artist how he gets his ideas. He doesn’t know. It happens. It’s like cerebral hemorrhage. This moment you’re you, and this moment your brain is doing something…well, something, and you’re another version of you with an idea. You look behind you and think ‘who did that’.
Think about that next time you hear an artist talk about his work. 

(J.K. Rowling is a good example here. She tells, when she’s asked the unavoidable question, that she sat on a train and there was Harry Potter. Read: she sat on a traingot brain hemorrhageand there was Harry Potter. It’s that simple.)

Photographs of three generations - my grandparents, my parents and mine

It became January 2014 and I arrived on a wintery-afternoon, with my fresh art, at the academy. A second change at the first part of graduating in the illustrious field of Art.

This time the classroom I got for my presentation, was quit white and sterile. The academy consists of four parts, build in four eras’. My room was located in the ‘new’ part (2003/2004). That’s a part with good clean architecture and no atmosphere. It was perfect.

I had to share the room with another student, he was not yet on the premises, so I took one wall and a table for my stuff and left the rest of the space untouched. In comparison to the last time (see the other blog THE BIG BLIP) I only had a few things to present to my almighty professors. Like the room, my body of work was minimal and clean. Accept for something rotten, a little detail that I thought would work like a stain on the white canvas and that I also thought added something rebellious.

I carried on with it and put up some black, white and red in the ocean of white space.


This was my project:
Telling Stories

A story is a reproduction of events, whether they are fictional or not.

A person consists manly out of memories, stories and experiences. This is what makes a person have a personality and a character. If you believe in a God, you will revere to this as the soul.

Theory of memory and self.


The Art I showed for this exam is an image of a how a story could look like when told by a person. I have taken the story out of someone’s mind and made it visual on the wall. The story contains memories (real and fantasy) and experiences.

Content of artwork
  • Red Ridinghood: represents the childhood stories and fantasies stored in the memory.
  • Photographs: represent family history of three generations and the stories and memories they shared
  • Color and adjustment in pictures: representing experiences and life lived.

The story you are about to see has a beginning, a birth, and an ending, adulthood. The beginning is clean and light, but time will fill a person with experiences, memories and stories. So, the story will get darker and dirtier, not because it is evil, it is just living a life.

First some scenes, then the whole story:

In the beginning there is just imagination and the memories grow wonderfull.
Adventures are all around.

Lovingly showing the travelled road in the forrest of life.

The forrest is never ever what it seems.

The whole story - printed photographs on paper, chalk and ink, 14x14cm.

Detail of the whole story.


 The cloak represented, in 3D, a story that is being eaten away by time and is getting rotten, stained and dirty. Because it is told over and over again it wears out and it’s getting holes and lose threads. Insects start to live in it, feed on it and die from it. It’s decay, it’s time trying to repeat a story. The story will partly perish before it becomes something new.

I made a red cloak because everybody knows who’s it is and why and how and for however and ever long.

I had collected little beautiful flies and insects that I placed on and under the cloak, the thing was alive and rotting.

But something went wrong here, because no one saw the cloak. The students that came to watch my presentation didn’t see it and the professors that were about to judge me didn’t see it. The thing was bright red, so that couldn’t be it. It was an interesting mystery.

Anyway, I was really very happy with the cloak.

Accept for the fact that it seemed to be invisible. But well, the devil is in the details.

Red's cloak. Isn't it creepy like this? See the flies? 
Vilted wool, nettings inside, flies, butterflie, mosquitoes.


‘Miss N, the last time at your examination we could hardly enter the room because of the enormous body of work and this time we almost past it by. There were some things we don’t know how to understand, but you are back on track. We think. Here is a seven. Next.’

 A seven.
Such a funny grade. Get a six and you know there’s some work to be done.
Get an eight and you know it’s pretty decent.

But a seven.

Come on…

Anyway, I will say it again:
'I was really very happy with the whole thing'


A few weeks later on of my professors told me they did see the cloak. (Well have you ever, rascals!).
He told me that, when they left the room after the exam, some of them were making fun about the flies underneath the cloak.

Madam, do you think she put the flies there on purpose?’ ‘Hahaha, of course not, you are funny, sir!’

 Isn’t it a great story…

Yours truly, Miss N -
(aka the Red Hooder)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


2013/2014 Graduating in Art, part 1


or the day I cried at school
or the day that I actually thought 'are you talking to me?' and looked behind me

It was the first semester of year four (2013) at the academy. Leaves were falling from creaky trees, horses shivered in their meadows and the wind was blowing around our house, whispering ‘beware’. Things were the same as every year, and yet, they weren’t. I ignored the whispering wind, the avoiding looks from my dog and the creeping of the black cat in and around the premises.
(The latter because she’s our own feisty ladycat who wasn’t nicknamed Black Lola because she was so fuzzy and warm)

I ignored all this because I had become the ignoring type. I was living in a world called school. Sure I went to some birthdays, but that resulted in drinking wine from a family member whose name, age and children’s names I didn’t remember. And so it happened that black clouds were gathering above my head and I didn’t notice.

I was working on an exam for a course named Visual Art Applied Design This course was meant to be the first of two steps of graduating in the field of Art.
(I think the intension was that the student made a choice for his project between Visual Art and Applied Design – but no one really knew).

I was working hard. Actually, I was working my ass of on something that was going nowhere. I tried to talk to my professor, but we seemed to have a missed connection. He was talking, I was talking, but we never touched base because he was speaking (fluently) Russian and I was, remarkably enough, speaking Chinese. We had some amazingly wondrous talks.

And then the exam arrived. It was time to show my work, explain it in a presentation, and collect my grade and move on to part two of graduating in the ever expending universe of Art. By that time it was hard to see straight because of the thunder, lightning and black cats that were falling ceaselessly from the apocalyptic skies. But still, I carried on.


This was my project.

At the end I will share with you how it ended on that dark dark night in an ill-lighted classroom at the academy.

First I’ll show you my theme in words.
If you don’t care much for theory or if you’re more a picture-guy than scroll down to the photo’s below.
The pictures will show a resume of an extremely large collection of studies and works.



Work work work work work – little red riding hood and the big incomprehensible theme

atelier and drawings
a study called (altering) EGO
(pastel, gouache, pencil, charcoal, wax crayons)
Please do not touch - a study selfportret Red Ridinghood
(ink, wax crayon, pastel, gouche, pencil)
Detail godess study inspired by the Prerafaelisten
(pastel on paper)
Study godess Diana
(charcoal on paper 70 x 175 cm)
Me, in my charcoal attire, working in my atelier with on my left a detail of a study of godess Freya
(charcoal on paper 150 x 150 cm)


The afternoon I arrived at the academy I found the classroom, were I had to put out for my exam, in a horrible state. Tables and chairs were piled up like at a storage warehouse. Trying to stand in the middle of the disaster area I swore I could hear the guys from facility services laughing from the dark corners of the room.

(You should know that almost all those guys hated students – and I mean in a really scary Roald Dahl kind of way – they were mean)

Luckily some really nice students and my love came to my aid and together we build new walls from tables, chairs and big wooden plates. It looked like a space again, but bad karma had already creeped in…

Body of work.

I did my presentation, told my story while waving my arms and pointing at (so many) things. I stopped and everybody just stared at me. The professors asked me some interesting and some unrelated questions. I looked at their faces and couldn’t tell what was happening inside their minds and if this was their normal frown or not. After a long deliberation, among the four of them, the verdict came like a bullet to the head.

‘We have no idea what you are talking about and what the heck this means, we can’t tolerate this, and we give you a FIVE (inadequate, miss N!).’

This is the part where I actually looked behind me.
But there was only a pile of tables and some dark corners. They were really talking to me. The sky broke and I got finally struck by lightning.

The crying part came later when I realised the huge amount of time lost on this project. I did want to slap somebody for that. But there was no one. My professors tried to give me a good reason for the low low grade. They couldn’t, they all gave me a different reason. And one even blamed the others. We were all part of a really weird story.

There were ten students that dark evening and for all of us it ended badly. We all flunked the exam. Even the professors themselves. This whole predicament goes to proof that Art is hard to judge, to exam, to explain, to comprehend. For me this was the point de capiton were I realized I am done here, I’m at your level,

 My love brought me home where he turned the dark into cosy, the cat came in and rolled up in a warm ball and the dog looked at me as if to say ‘it’s done, kid.’ Then he climbed upon the sofa and watched some tv.

Saturday, 3 September 2016


First things first. I will finish the SCHOOLLIFE posts, starting were I left of: June 2013

When you scroll down you’ll find the post from Tuesday 11 June 2013. It’s only half a post.

In retrospect it appears like there was a natural disaster and I just dropped everything and took off (which of course is normal in a crisis, in any kind of crisis…).

On June 11 I did write about Perceptual Studies 2D and posted my peculiar and strangely alien like drawings. Which, like all really strange / emotional / scary or typical works do (take the Oscars), got me a really high grade.

Exam-table with sketches, inspiration, books, portfolio and the all-seeing-eye….

No so spectacular exhibition space with big-ass drawings
(through the eyes of Pyke Kock I probably look something like this)

The other course I had to put out for was Product Design 2D and 3D:
a life-size cardboard cabinet, a storage option for your veggies, some pretty info-cards to take when shopping tomatoes, a million little models, a national contest and a course exam.

 Product Design 2D and 3D

There were two assignments and in a nutshell the criteria was:
Be like the students at Design Academy Eindhoven. Be a product designer. Walk the professional line.

Assignment: design a product in 2D and one in 3D that relates in any imaginable way to food. Form and function are key.

My primal inspiration came from one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen: 

This should be required watching for all peops (even kids and dogs).

I did my research on storage guidelines for keeping fruits & vegetables. Mould it to the aesthetics I believe are important. And made the drawings to explain it and finally build it with help and support from a welder and a carpenter.

This is the 3D design I made for this assignment: hello, fruit & vegetable food storage rack

Height 120cm, different kinds of wood with metal frame.

And this is the 2D design that I thought looked pretty cute: a food info-card that you can crab when you buy your tomatoes (now I see that it's not tree/eco friendly, it should be digital). I am sorry.

Linocut and graphicdesign (overlooked by my graphicdesigner manfriend) on cardboardpaper.


This years assignment from our national heritage store, HEMA, was:  ‘organize your life’
Please people of the Netherlands design a product that fits this concept so we can keep on claiming we truly are the peoples store!

So, on that note I decided to design foldable cabinet modules. The modules had to fit in a cycle bag. So when shopping at HEMA it should be so easy to buy a foldable module on a moment’s notice and not be buggerd when you cannot fit it anywhere on your bike.
And I wanted everything to be fully recycleble, from the cardboard to the glue.

The design string from sketch to product:

I presented the whole lot on a sunny morning. And so it happened, that after my presentation, my professor said ‘there is nothing more to add to that, dear miss N, I will reward you with a ten’.

Joy and happiness lasted for days…and then I had to lay down for a bit.