Talented artist Tymon de Laat spoke to us about his life and how important painting is for him. Inspired by people during his travels his senses awaken He is the founder of Me Like Painting Studio and we present you his amazing work.
-What would you choose to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
Good morning, can I have a cup of tea please?
-Introduce yourself to us!
My name is Tymon de Laat and I am a visual artist from Rotterdam, Netherlands. I am married to Samantha and we have a French bulldog called Sketch. I was raised in Delft up till I was 17 and then I moved to Rotterdam to study.
-How do you define yourself? Artist? Street artist? Anything else?
That is a good question; a wise friend once told me that every definition is a restriction within itself. I like to keep things open, but since we are talking about my painting I think I will stick with artist or visual artist.
– How did it all start for you, and what is it nowadays?
One of my first memories with a pencil in my hand was when I was a kid in the front room of the house of a friend that lived in the same street in Delft. His name is Ruurd Duppen and he was awesome at drawing. We got together as much as my parents allowed and used to draw for hours on end. At the time unknowingly he really inspired me to go down this path, but back then I never thought about doing this full time off course.
Many years later in middle school, my art class teacher advised me to try and get into the Willem de Kooning art academy. So I applied and studied Art Direction in advertising. However, during the 4 years I grew more and more disenchanted with advertising and the creative constrictions it came with.
When I was a kid my father told stories about his world trip and I would be hanging on to his every word in awe. Eventually, in 2003 I decided to go travelling myself in Central and South America on a shoestring for a year as after I graduated I had no idea what my next step would be. There I got to clear my mind and think what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Having more time than money and being surrounded by such an inspirational environment and people, I fell in love with the Latin culture and started drawing again. (In the academy the focus was on conceptual thinking and I realized that after graduation my drawing skills had waned.) Whilst on the road I would offer to make murals in hostels to pay for my stay and at the end of that year on the road I came back loaded with ideas, maybe too many, but I decided to give them all a shot over a 10 year time period. In 2005 I started customizing jeans, from there it went to painting on canvas and throughout the years that has merged again with walls. In 2007 I founded my company MeLikePainting and have been painting full time ever since. Since 2015 I have gathered all the good,bad and the ugly that I have learnt in those 10 years mucking about in the studio and I now try to distill it into the recent works I make.
Nowadays, my focus is on painting portraits which in a way is my personal way to pay tribute to the culture of Latin America and share my adventures at home.
-What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Usually when I get up I check my phone to see if I have missed any pressing messages, then jump into the shower and take Sketch for a walk. After that I am off to the studio and have my breakfast there.
-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?
Well that is a hard one. There is not one kind of music that is my favourite, although I am a generation house kid. In almost every genre there are some solid tunes. But if I have to choose it would be something with a strong melody. Like Bonobo perhaps?
-In all forms of art, inspiration is crucial. What is it that inspires you?
Inspiration is all around, the people you meet being on the road and their personal stories and also my love for Rotterdam. But mostly, discovering new things, the feeling of being in the moment which especially happens when I am abroad. For me this is when time slows down and all senses are stimulated. Taking myself out of my comfort zone is the time I feel that growth is closer. Being back home I notice the pace of life speeds up, all of a sudden I have places to be and meetings to attend and before you know it another day has passed and I cannot remember what I had for dinner the day before.
-What is the hardest part while working on a piece of art?
Sometimes I hit a moment half way painting a piece when I think where is this going, am I doing this right? But I have learnt to trust my judgement and just push through. The good thing with painting is you can always go back and start again. I try not to worry about the mistakes I make as long as I learn from them.
-Do you have an artist(s) you admire and what for?
Are you going to make me choose? There are many but just to name a few, okay here goes:
Titziano Vecelli blew me away when I saw his work in Florence. His portraiture and fearlessness to use hard backgrounds especially back in those days is incredible. I really admire the work of Mad C for her use of colours, expression and layering, one day I hope to collaborate on a piece with her. Telmo Miel’s compositions and visual combinations I really appreciate. Wes 21 Schwartzmaler and Onur I love for the message they bring across and their great use of light. But also my friends with whom I share my thoughts and processes with in the studio, Robert Rost and Nuno Viegas, their feedback I take to heart.
-Which cities are the most inspiring for you?
First and foremost that would be my hometown Rotterdam. This place has given me so many possibilities and support to grow as an artist, something that I will always be grateful for. Also Buenos Aires, La Paz, Merida and Kathmandu to name a few, but to be honest, cultures and locals get to me the most. A personal encounter with their stories can change the way you perceive a country. Bringing these stories home and painting them in public spaces can change the way people see a culture or nation, without them ever having been there. In my opinion xenophobia is on the rise due to the little we know about the other 7 billion people we share the world with. I would like to introduce these cultures to each other and bridge the gap.
-What other passions do you have apart from art?
Painting takes up most of my time to be honest, but I love a bit of cooking, it is just like painting but with flavors right? Especially when it is over an open fire. Spending time with Sam and my friends is a must. Friends and family are the base of everything for me. I also love photography, when on the road I take portraits that I then use as the starting point of my paintings. Also spending time on the slopes riding my board hits me right in the heart.
-Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
There are plenty of dreams to be fulfilled but the biggest for now is that I would like to paint a portrait mural in every country worldwide and gather it in a book. This would be the ultimate excuse for a world trip for me and the chance to combine painting with adventure. Also meeting many of the industries great artists and sharing a canvas with them is high on the wish list.
-Tell us about your art, does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns?
In my work I use a lot of colour, in combination with a realistic touch. The bright colour combinations in the portraits for me are a way to express the vibrancy of the person or culture. The line work is based on the proportions and creases in the face with which I try to accentuate the personality. By emphasizing the mix of bright colour as opposed to the actual skin tone I try to shift the focus from race. In the end we are all people that have to live on this planet together no matter our skin colour, religion or beliefs. This planet is not ours but merely borrowed from our next generation. One of my most recent murals “Madre Tierra” plays with this notion.
– How long does a piece of art work of yours usually survive for?
Most of the murals are still there. I am not sure how the walls from my travels are doing. The murals have an ephemeral character which I like but I hope that my canvas pieces will last for future generations.
-What do people first think of, or feel, when they see one of your works on the street?
That is hard to say, I don’t like to make assumptions. But so far the comments have been positive. To be honest, if people do not like my work they usually do not go out of their way to tell me, so this might be a skewed view. It is nice to hear any feedback but in the end I have to admit that I do it for myself in search of technical skill. Once the wall or painting is done it has a life of its own. It is nice that people can have their own interpretation of what the work means to them without me interfering in their perception. In my opinion it is this that bridges the gap, the freedom to express and interpret your surroundings.
-Do you have a secret you would like to share with us? 🙂
I am not big on secrets, I mean all the stuff you’ve got to keep in mind not to spill your guts is just energy wasted, if you ask me. 🙂
-What are your creative plans for the future?
For the next few years I would like to keep developing my style within my studio work and walls. Find technical challenges that I suck at and approach them head on. I would like to further develop the skill to paint everything my mind comes up with and master the language of painting. This way I can communicate to everybody without using words.
This, all in a good balance with the much needed dose of travels and my camera at hand of course to document the encounters.
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Get out there and go travel the world, meet people and different cultures. Taking distance from what you know will give you a new perspective or at the least a good story to tell at a bar. 🙂
Thank you Tymon! 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.