A rigorous Dutch
high school education, heavy with the academics necessary to prepare
one for university, but lacking in the arts, still left me at a loss with
what to do with my life. A few years of part-time jobs while I studied
drawing and sculpture with local artists, helped me decide to use my best
talent to make a living:
I would pursue something arty.
Having no wish to be a “starving
artist”, the pragmatic path was to obtain a
degree in Commercial Art. During my studies, the flying logo on the intro
Night at the Movies” mesmerized me. I wanted to make things move … in 3D.
portfolio in hand, I was able to land a job with a firm that had what I
wanted: a computer. This was the age of Genigraphics, a turn-key computer
system used primarily for presentation graphics in the corporate world.
Many years of long hours and tight deadlines, producing the bread & butter
graphs, charts and copy slides followed. The perks were the occasional
magazine cover and movie ad, converting an abstract concept into a picture.
Squeezing art out of a vector-based machine that could only display 256
colors became the classic right-brain / left-brain challenge.
But the 3D
world remained elusive.
My search started
for a company with a bigger computer. Disney had some.
Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida wasn’t interested in my
previous experience; they only wanted to see drawings. A new portfolio
with sketches, secured me a spot in their 3-month internship, a crash course
in animation designed to measure your talent and mettle.
My successful completion
of this internship was awarded with an offer for a full time position in
either character or special effects animation. The latter was my choice,
since this road was at the time, the only road to 3D animation.
I had the
luck and privilege to arrive on the scene just at the start of the Second
Golden Age of Animation. My work started with traditional effects and character
cleanup on none other than “Beauty and
the Beast”. After “Aladdin” and
Roger Rabbit’s “Trail Mix-Up”, I started work in the 3D realm on computers
running Unix. I finally lived in the world of CVs and pixels! This led
to credits on “The
Lion King”, “Pocahontas”, “Mulan”, “Dinosaur”, “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother
The work was challenging and rewarding. You could go from positioning
a character in a single frame to choreographing hundreds of riders on horseback
while animating a camera to reveal the start of a pivotal battle (Mulan).
In Florida, the close-knit team of artists and technicians made the impossible,
possible. Animation is hugely collaborative and thus in turn becomes the
greatest education anyone could wish for.
Walt Disney Feature Animation left Florida in 2004. It was time
to unplug and invest in myself.
A year off rekindled an old interest in
small squares. Not pixels this
time, but tesserae. The seed planted long ago during a class on “how-to-glue-broken-tiles-to-a-pot”,
started to grow. Scavenged broken tiles quickly gave way to more refined
materials and methods. It was crucial to retain more control on the final
product; I wanted the expressiveness and design of the underlying drawing
to shine through. In mosaics I actually found an art form that can be even
more tedious and time consuming than animation.
Stacks of books initially
helped me get started experimenting with various materials and techniques.
Though the medium was new to me, the underlying principals of my previous
work for design, composition and story telling still guide me in every
piece. Valuable hands-on instruction with mosaic artists from the US and
Europe continues to enrich my knowledge.
Looking at what has come before
is of utmost importance to me. Studying the ancient works is primary in
order to learn the language of mosaic. As I continue to build my own body
of work, the techniques I use become second nature and my own voice and
style comes through.