urban collage artist

︎ The Netherlands
march 04, 2020

First things first, could you please introduce yourself a little? Where did you grow up? How – and when – did you start to explore art?

I’m a Dutch urban collage artist. A street artist in the broadest sense of the word. I roam the streets of European cities on foot or by folding bike with large shopping bags that I fill up with paper and other trash during my trips. I’m obsessed with this found material that has been weathered and sun kissed, sometimes many years, creating the most beautiful patina on the material. There is so much character in this material. I look especially for this old material.

I work primarily on two series of artworks; masks and portraits. In my masks I focus on visualizing my observations of the world we live in. And in my portraits I pay tribute to characters that inspire me, to game changers and innovators.

I grew up in a small town near the city of Den Bosch in the Netherlands. My parents have always been interested in art, taking me to museum shows and galleries. My father is very creative. I remember as a kid when he was busy making his art I’d be in his little studio space making dinosaurs. I was always building stuff; creating toys, games whatever I came up with. And I remember driving my mother crazy with all the stuff I’d find in the streets and take back home to build toys and other stuff from.

Did you have any artistic role models or mentors growing up?

When I was young the comic books of Storm by Don Lawrence had a major influence on me. The new worlds he created were always mind blowing. I spend many hours drawing my own futuristic worlds and characters. Later on in the mid to late 90’s artists like Futura, Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGinness, Faile, Bast, Swoon and Banksy had a big influence. Banksy is a big inspiration in the way he plays with image and message and how he is able to draw attention to his art. Ryan McGinness for the play with simple iconic images to create more and more complex universes. Bast for his collage style and use of sourced material. I see a bit of all of them in my own work.

I never really had a mentor.

Do you have any formal art training and if so, what – if anything – did it do for you?

I went to art school and I am trained as a 3D designer; product and interior design. It was great to meet like-minded people in art school who looked at the world in similar ways. That was a revelation to me. Growing up in a small town I never felt like I fitted in. So meeting other creatives was very nice. I learned a lot in art school and working in the design industry later on. One thing I was trained to do is to always push yourself to take an extra step. Have high standards for yourself and demand high quality work. Make meaningful work not just pretty pictures.

You are a street artist. How did you get there? Was it something you chose, or did it choose you?

Street Art has been a major influence on me. The DIY punk attitude is something I like a lot. Just go out there and do it. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. It’s an act of rebellion, opposing the system and express what you think needs to be said. And at the same time beautify the world we live in by adding art. What’s not to like.

I started out putting up stickers, posters and later stencilled posters. As my work evolved I also put up my masks in the streets. I use paper sourced in the streets in my work so putting it back up in the street is a natural consequence of what I do. It makes the circle complete. I just couldn’t find a way to make the paper durable as it is vulnerable. Coating it in resin made it look like plastic and lose all what attracts me in this material. I finally found an alternative material to make my mask weather proof and keep the looks I want to have. I have been putting up work in the streets ever since.

You work under the name Perishable Rush. How did you come up with it and what does it stand for?

For me my name represents the current zeitgeist. The focus in society is on speed. We have to get rich and famous quickly and live up to the idealistic images imposed on us. We are hounded and driven to purchase things quickly otherwise we are too late. To be successful quickly otherwise we are a failure. To make a profit quickly otherwise we are not doing well. Making a fast buck and greed reign. I always thought Perishable Rush would be a good name for a band. As I don't play any instruments and was looking for a name to represent who I am and what I do Perishable Rush only seemed fitting. It is a conversation starter.

How would you describe your style in your own words?

Urban Collage. I’m not a classical street artist nor a classical collage artist so I decided to come up with a new genre; Urban collage.

You collect all the materials you use in your collages in the streets. How did this way of working develop?

Most material I use is from the streets. But I also use art prints, posters, clippings from old comic books and books. I source the material I need for a specific piece. I don’t want to restrict myself by using only material from the streets. What I want to express is most important and I use whatever I need to get that done.

I started out making collage from remnants of test screen-prints that I had laying around in the studio. Later on stencils were torn to be part of the collage pieces I did. I wanted to add more colour. And one day I bumped into a spot in Amsterdam with thick layers of posters nearly coming off the wall. I took some of it and never stopped using that material since.

Is there a political, social statement in there somewhere? Or was it an aesthetical or practical choice?

My political views and social statements are intertwined in my ski masks. I see a lot of things going on in society that I have to react to. The best way for me to do that is through visual communication.

My portraits are more my aesthetical outlet. Those are more playful. More about my passion for the material I source. The structures and colours I find.

You are currently working on two series of artworks: masks and portraits. These are almost polar opposites: either hiding or showing personality or individuality. Is it me reading this duality into your work? Because it could also be seen as two sides of the same coin.

My masks are anonymous and about expressing how I look at the world. The mechanisms I see at play in our society. In my masks I work with concepts and stories. My portraits are looser, more aesthetical.

You say on your website that you are paying tribute to characters that inspire you. Who exactly inspires you and why?

Well, there are quite a few different characters that I have portrayed so far. I’ve portrayed musicians, artists, athletes and movie characters. I’m a big fan of arthouse artistic movies. A Clockwork Orange for example has had a deep impact. I first saw the movie in art school because of the stylised interiors. I was struck by the world created in the movie, the ultra-violence, the sets, the social, political and economic comments. The story centres around Alex DeLarge, played by Malcolm Mc Dowell, the charismatic anti-social leader of a gang of thugs on a very violent crime spree, their capture and the rehabilitation of Alex. A very inspiring movie both aesthetical and statement wise.

My portrait style works best with people and character with iconic looks. I make icons of icons. So the looks are also very important.

If you could host a smallish dinner party and invite anyone you’d like, dead or alive, who would it be? And what would you be talking about or doing (aside from eating obviously)?

Banksy, Nicolas Winding Refn, j Dilla, just chill and talk about creating and inspiration.

You’ve been doing this for a while. How has street art changed? It’s become quite hip. Is it still running from the police in the dead of night? Or more commissioned work and galleries?

I’m a studio artist foremost. I need time to work on my pieces. I cannot make them on the spot illegal, it would take too much time. I make my street pieces in the studio and then only have to put them up the walls. So I can work really quickly. I like working in the streets a lot. It’s a big rush to see how they work in their natural habitat. But studio work is my basis. I like to make work that lasts. Street work can be gone really quick. I did a run in Paris, put up work, dumped my gear to come back for a photography run and the first piece was already gone. If you’re lucky pieces stay up, if you’re not they last hours. That’s all in the game. But that alone doesn’t satisfy my creative need to make lasting work.

Street art has changed a lot. There is a lot of commercial work out in the streets and the galleries that is made with the single purpose of making money. Work that lacks creativity and originality. But that is all part of the game. Of anything that becomes popular or successful. I don’t mind. I do my own thing and create from the heart. That is all that matters to me.

Do you make any other kind of art?

No. I have so much more to explore in the direction I’m going right now. I have the tendency to experiment and not finish. I need focus to finish work before I start something new.

How do you define creativity?

The ability to create something new, original and inventive. There is creativity on so many levels. I used to train martial arts and I remember reading about Masaaki Hatsumi the taijutsu grand master. He said that every profession has it’s own taijutsu, a best way of doing things. That is something that always stuck with me. I’m always looking for the best way to do things. Understand how things work, then play with it and make it your own.

What are your words of wisdom for someone just starting their creative journey? What kind of advice would you give?

Make work that matters to you.

Perishable Rush: ︎ ︎ ︎
interview: Petra Zehner