Belgian Street Artist Joachim was Born To Paint! His distinctive graffiti pop-style is impossible to ignore. A full-time, utterly dedicated artist with multiple street art murals to his name, he has managed to earn his reputation within the urban art scene. Find out more about him in this interview and his current solo exhibition in London.
(ISSA) 1-What would you like to drink? Coffee, Tea, Beer, Soda or something else?
(Joachim) – Coffee for sure!
2-Introduce yourself to us – as if we had no idea who you were!
My name is Joachim, I’m an artist from Antwerp (Belgium) I work both on canvas and on walls, my style is a mixture of graffiti and pop!
3- How did it all start for you?
My first memory of street art dates back to the early 90’s, when I was about 6 years old I saw an old school graffiti piece in my home city Antwerp. It was on that day that I envisaged a future as an artist. As a teenager,I pursued my dream, I went to art school and became hugely involved within the graffiti and street art scene, a whole new world opened up for me and then it really started.
4- When did people start noticing your work on the street?
About 5 years ago in the year 2013; In the beginning I cycled around the streets looking for walls that could use a lick of paint. Then I called the owners to ask them if I could paint their wall. I always carried a portfolio with me my work. Many said yes and that’s how I painted many walls in the beginning. It cost me a lot of money as I had to pay for everything myself, but it was my passion and nothing could stop me from painting. The more walls I painted over time the more I got asked to paint walls. Before you knew it people knew my work from seeing my work in the streets of Belgium.
5-How would you describe your murals? And where can we find them?
My murals are graphic and black and white (usually accompanied by a background color) My figures are figurative and a bit cartoonistic. I use thick outlines to shape my characters. I like working on a big wall because that way I can put more detail into my work.
6- You also paint in your studio, how does your mural work differ from your studio work?
As I said, my work on the wall is black and white. There are many more colors in my canvases. That is the biggest difference. I use the same elements, and the same figures always come back but my work on the wall is cleaner, more delineated on canvas it is all a bit coarser and more spontaneous. When I paint a wall, I usually have a sketch that I take over. In my studio I start to paint, without knowing what the result will be. It is a different way of working. You only have one shot on the street and then you’re work must be finished. I can keep working on a canvas until I think it’s done. That sometimes even takes a few weeks..
7-Tell us a bit more about your art; does it include symbolisms, messages or repeated patterns? How has it evolved?
I have always been fascinated by life and death. The skull has become my logo over the years. If you pay attention, the teeth of the skull always return in my characters, you could say that there is a skull under every figure. In this way, life and death are connected in my work, without really going into that subject, because I love that my work is open to interpretation. Too much explanation can sometimes destroy an image, I think. That is why I do not like to talk about my work. I find it more interesting when people come up with their own story.
8-We saw “Till Death Do Us ‘Art” solo show in Brussels last year was a Joachim takeover! How does your London solo show “Born To Paint” compare/differ?
The title of the show in London (Born To Paint) already shows similarities with the title of Brussels (Till Death Do Us ‘Art) you immediately notice that death and life is a recurring theme. The show in Brussels was a real ‘take over’ I got the entire gallery at my disposal and was allowed to do what I wanted. It was a mix of paintings and murals, even the floor and the ceiling were painted! I wanted to give the spectators the feeling that they had ended up in a world of someone with too much paint, fantasy and caffeine! hahaa! 🙂 The show in London is, to say the least, also impressive, but in a different way, you are also overwhelmed by colour and image, but everything is presented cleaner and tighter. We have spent about a year working on coming up with a concept and making the works, so we have thought about it more, more attention has been paid to details.
9- ‘Born To Paint’ reflects your passion to create and paint, explain a typical Joachim day.
Contrary to what many people think, I also set my alarm clock in the morning to wake up! An artist’s life also requires structure, in a slightly freer environment of course;). In any case, I start the day with coffee and start working after that. When I work on canvases I stay at home, because my studio is in the same building to where I live. When I have to paint a wall, I’m gone all day and will be back home late at night. Sometimes I do not paint, of course, but I make sketches for walls or I am busy preparing projects, exhibitions etc … Everything I do has something to do with art. At night I even dream about it, sometimes I think I’m going crazy, but you’ve got to be a little obsessed, no matter what you do, to get somewhere.
10- How long have you been working on ‘Born To Paint’? describe your new body of works?
The GraffitiStreet team and I have been busy with all the preparations for a year. I started making work about 7-8 months before the opening of the show, especially for this exhibition. I always experiment with many techniques, but for the first time I have also used oil paint. Normally I do not use that because oil paint needs a lot of time to dry. I like to work fast and usually I do not have the patience to wait until my paint is dry. For this show I worked on several paintings at the same time, in this way it was possible to remain busy and to continue working. I really started to appreciate oil paint; because it offers you so many more possibilities. I could not live without it now!
11- We are loving the graff pink mini cooper covered in your trademark skulls! How long did this take to customise?
I painted the mini myself in the UK. When I arrived here the team of ‘GraffitiStreet’ had already made sure that the car was ready to be painted. It took me three days to customize the car. One day for the background and two days for the skull pattern. I did the skulls with a stencil consisting of four layers. so I had to wait every time until each late was dry before I could continue working. I already had an idea in advance of how the mini should look like, but the result is even better! I am really happy with it!
12- Colourful umbrellas and raindrops! Explain!
The umbrella and the raindrops can be seen in my canvases. It is also something that I associate with London or the UK in general. A figure that is walking with an umbrella in the rain. But I did not want to make a gloomy picture of it, it had to be positive, happy rain, you might say. That’s why I chose to display the rain in all kinds of colours in an installation from the ceiling of the gallery. There was a visitor who said that he felt that he had landed right in a ‘Joachim painting’ and he became happy! That was exactly what we were trying to achieve!
13- Do you have any murals planned whilst you’re in London?
Unfortunately no, I didn’t paint any murals on this trip. I’ve been busy with the show and the weather was really crazy! snow and wind in such an amount that even the most seasoned inhabitant of the united kingdom thought, whaahw! I’ll stay inside! Hahaa!! But no worries! within a few months I will come back to make murals!
Thank you Joachim! It’s been great to get to know more about the person behind such talented and inspiring works.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
Open daily: Friday 2nd – Saturday 10th March, 10:00-18.30 (Viewing by
appointment outside these hours).
Venue: Unit 11 Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London
– Nearest London Underground Station: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool
Official link: www.borntopaint.co.uk