We proudly bring you an interview with young international street artist JDL from the Netherlands. This inspirational and talented young illustrator is out to conquer the street art scene and she has all it takes. A perfectionist that is still evolving who daily faces her toughest critic, her own self. Check out what she is up to and much more about her life and thoughts!
-Hi Judith, what would you like to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
My body runs on two things: Coffee and wine.
– Introduce yourself to us.
My name is Judith de Leeuw, aka JDL street art (23). I was born and raised in Amsterdam. I’m a full time illustrator and international street artist.
– Where does your tag name come from?
At first, i wanted to stay anonymous when i started off. I did some things illegally as well at the time, so i was worried about the cops seeing a link if i got caught. But some time later, i saw some articles and photo’s showing up saying ‘Judith de Leeuw’. I guess they have seen my personal Facebook account where i also uploaded artwork. Bit of a failure, but oh well..
Now i go with JDL street art and my real name. Because i am not really doing anything illegal anymore (only semi-illegal once in a while), also, i do not want to start over using a new name. JDL are simply my initials.
–How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
I define myself as an illustrator and street artist. Nothing else. It’s pretty much all i am.
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
I started off as a little rebel kid, trying to make trouble with spray cans. I didn’t really have any talent and everybody told me to stop drawing as a kid in class. But i didn’t, and i am so happy i did not listen. I did not go to school, and if i did, i was only drawing. That’s how i reached the level where i am now. I really hope one of my old teachers from high school finds out about who i am now and realizes he should motivate the kids when they want to draw instead of kicking them out.
Nowadays i see it as my job, but also as my life purpose and hobby. I really fight for every mural i do, and it’s a challenge with every project to do it bigger and better. I really try to exceed my work every time and i feel really bad if i don’t do that enough. So it’s stressful and a lot of back pain. But for some reason, i go crazy if i don’t work and learn. I don’t want to do anything else. I’d give up anything for it.
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Coffee. lots of coffee. If i didn’t get my coffee, you better hide.
-Street art is mostly a visually stimulating form of art. To add one more sense to it, what music would you pick to accompany your art work?
I would choose a different song with every artwork. Every single artwork of mine has another concept and expression.
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
As a kid i drew to deal with my emotions, so emotions remained a drive for me to create something. I guess that’s where i got my expressionistic images from.
If i don’t have very strong feelings or bothering thoughts that need to get out, i see the world as my inspiration. I love to research culture, history, society, maps, feminism during the first world war (did you know women drove trolley cars back then? No, neither did i) , capitalism, religion.. i could go on forever. Anything, really! I see life as an artist as a non-stop study of planet. That’s also why i’d like to work internationally, every location has its own character and my work now is mostly location related.
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
My insecurity and self-criticism. It’s never good enough and i can go completely crazy about it in my own head. Sometimes it’s even hard to sleep.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
I think i would have to pick one because otherwise this article will get all over the place. I like the work of JR, because of his well-thought conceptual and social work which i can relate to. One of the big differences is that a big part of me is also the craftsmanship of painting, while he is a photographer.
-Which locations are the most inspiring for you?
I’d like to go to crisis area’s one day such as some locations in Africa. Pretty much as far away from everything that i know because i want to learn and experience everything, in every possible way there is. Until now, Asia has been the biggest inspiration i had because the culture was completely different. I need to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things.
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
I loved making music, but i can’t anymore because i lost my piano (yes, piano, i know i don’t seem like a type for it). But i’ll get one as soon as i am back in NL. Besides that i love having a good time with my friends. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we eat, sometimes we get drunk, sometimes they laugh, sometimes they cry, you know, what normal people do.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
I’d love to leave a huge mural in the city centre of Amsterdam as my fingerprint on the city i was born and raised. It’s hard because they are mostly protected monuments so the government won’t give you permission. I even had to do my piece of Amy Winehouse semi-illegally.
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
Apart from my visual style, it is always a combination of concept, expressionism and craftsmanship.
– How long time does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
I don’t know, i just started off 2 years ago. Until now they are all intact.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
I heard several things from people. I’ve heard that people have been shocked by some of my large scale work. I also met some people that told me it made them intensively happy if they passed my piece on their bike every day just because of the creative vibe it gives the city. I’ve even experienced two people that cried (some people that i portrayed, i don’t want to call any names). That means a lot to me. Even the smallest smile does.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us?
I keep having this dream about a bright pink, fluffy cat with super big eyes and a charlie chaplin hat on thats driving on a whale in the sea. (it’s not a lie)
-What are your creative plans for the future?
Paint the planet. More, bigger, better. In every aspect you could think of. I can’t wait to see how much i’ve learned by the time i’m 33 (i’m 23 now).
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Don’t try to hard to be a part of the basic system if you know you don’t really fit in, you might end up not even doing what you actually think is important to yourself and the world. In the end, fighting for who you are will pay off later. I know so many people that wasted their talent because of forcing themselves into being something in which they not really are: It’s a shame and it doesn’t have to be like that.
And, don’t listen to the teachers when they tell you to stop drawing. You might become a full-time street artist or illustrator. 🙂
Thank you JDL ! It’s been great to get to know more about the mind and person behind such talented and inspiring works.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
Here is your opportunity to obtain your own original piece of work by JDL while it lasts – LIMITED PRINT RELEASE / Child of the state.