Nominee Henri Winkelman Award 2020
What is your occupation now?
Right now I occupy the left side of my couch and I can’t move to the right before cleaning up the mess that occupies the rest of it. An empty coffeecup, tobacco, letters of the belastingdienst (Dutch Tax Office), a funeral card of my grandmother and four drawing books are spread here.
To understand occupation as the things I do for my work is a bit weird for me. I don’t feel like occupying, although I do rent half of a studio space, where I create and I do take a seat when travelling by train. So maybe I do occupy…
Studio space, Hans Schuttenbeld & Jilles de Man, project ‘Quarantaine’, Rotterdam, 2020
In that studio space, I draw, practise calligraphy, paint, make calligraphic design, and explore the shared creative process with our State of Mind collective. My love for collaborative creation is also practised within our High on Type collective, which emerges from researching the possibilities of the letter.
In that occupied train seat, I mostly draw. These drawings are together with other creations published under my pseudonym Hennels Buchstadt.
Drawings 10, Jul-Dec 2019, A5 drawing-book page, Hennels Buchstadt
What did you gain from your study at WdKA?
The belief that taking your pleasure seriously can unlock paths full of wonder.
My bigger compliment to the academy lies in the given space to experiment, try and thereby develop. While the structure and organisation of the study were constantly changing, I felt how the management and tutors were in the process of developing something. Understanding this made me try to do the same; to change and develop something. In order to do so, taking my pleasure seriously was very helpful.
As a result, I have grown an understanding of how everything is a process and a subject to change. I still don’t know if I agree with Willem de Kooning's quote ‘I have to change to stay the same’ but at least I find the choice to put this on the academy's facade a good one. It makes one contemplate on the concept of change.
Favourite WdKA memory?
A small conversation with Lauran Schijvens (Design research tutor) during some kind of an organised informal drink. We were staring out of the window, observing the streets. He started telling interesting details about the streetlights on the other side of the water. I completely forgot what exactly he was saying, but it made me realise how curiosity and interest can shape a human being into a person that has many things to share. And since sharing is one of the more important human needs, it might be good to follow curiosity and interest.
Dream a Little, a page from Drawings 05 sketchbook, March-May 2018, Hennels Buchstadt
What is the future of your profession in your opinion?
I would consider ‘artist’ my profession. Thereby I keep it wide and open, which will hopefully lead to an insecure and beautiful future. What the future of artists will be, might not radically change in the upcoming times. We will bring reflections, critics and (alternative) perspectives to our surroundings. So I assume the future will be enriching.
You never leave your house without…?
Well, if I bring a bag, the big chance there is a well-filled etui and an A5 sketchbook in it. Drawing is such a beautiful yet simple act that I enjoy a lot while travelling by train, being on the waterfront or in a weird corner of the city. Thereby I agree with David Lynch who finds it important to always note the ideas. (And don’t judge them before writing them down).
Any words of advice to future students?
- Try. Don’t try your best since that will probably lead to disappointment. Just try.
- Share. Although the system still doesn’t understand it (it will give you a personal diploma) we will have to do it all together. So share. Share your creations, share the creation process, share doubts, frustrations and joy.
- Reflect. What I consider helpful is to reflect and to give space to the reflection of others. And again, share. Exchange reflections and open yourself to the perspectives of others.
- Be sensitive. That helps to experience any process and to reflect on that experience. Our senses are extremely intelligent. And one can train to connect with them.
And..."The only advice you’ll ever hear is something you already know, and it just gets confirmed." William Kentridge
Zwaartekracht wordt overschat (Gravity is Overrated), High on Type, poem by Derek Otte, project: Opperclaes XL, Hofbogen Rotterdam, 2019
The world is now trying to cope with stress and anxiety caused by COVID 19 pandemic. Everything and everyone seems to undergo radical changes. How does the present situation influence your mindset and your design practice?
Just as in any other situation, you can work on your mindset, and so I try to. This is an activity. For every person, there will be another way to actively work on this, but I think it is divided into two kinds of action: choosing what you do and choosing what you won’t do.
In choosing what you do I find multiple possibilities in me and my friends: to work in a garden, to dance, to draw, to walk, to meditate, to observe, to open to poetry, to be in nature. Recently, I learned a wonderful exercise: you just lie down on the floor (on your back), close your eyes and try to relax. Imagine the print your body makes on the floor and with every exhale try to increase your body print. Amazing!
Exercise 052819, May 2019, from the continuous series Exercises
In choosing what not to do, here are my few examples: have many potential distractions while working, watch the news, scream at people, own a smartphone, look at your phone in the morning, spend too much time on (social) media, believe what media tells you, watch Netflix series, hurry, think that you need pressure, believe there is only one truth (and that you have it).
They are all choices and I am not telling anyone what to do, I just want to share the idea that people can actively work on their mindsets by making choices. Which might be more important in times where manipulation and deception are quite present.
Personally, I reacted strongly on the first day I travelled by public transport when the masks were obligatory. The situation I experienced reminded me too strong of George Orwell's "1984".
All of a sudden there were lots of stickers, stencils on the floor, big screens, voices from the speakers, tape on the floor and stairs, and even people holding signs. They all contained commands and orders about how I should behave. Do this, do that. It did not feel right, my body reacted strongly, I wanted to scream. I did not scream, held the anger inside until I entered the forest, where I started to run. When I got tired and stopped, I saw a beautiful blossom, stood still and cried. There I made space for natures’ beauty to enter my body.
Untitled, from Morning Meditations series, 2020, Hennels Buchstadt.
I needed quite some time and conversations to understand that my inner frustrations and anger were not going to change this immediately. I had to get back the confidence that creating can change the world in a way, that making art equals making the world. As a human being and as an artist, I do have the ability and possibility to express and to communicate, which is very rewarding. This understanding slowly came back and I could work from love again. From love, I actively talk, create, share and thereby give something back to my context. Actually just as I would do before this incident.
So do we talk about radical changes? In my case actually not. The situation does have an influence but it does not change my fundamental values.
I hope that we experience the poetry that everyday life contains
Name your favourite recent project.
Together with Vincent de Boer, the initiator of the project, we have been working on an animation film based on a brushstroke. London jazz formation Ill Considered will be improvising inspired by the animation. You can understand it as a video clip in reversed order. First, the animation is created, and then, the musicians improvise, while watching it.
The Stroke, work in progress
We have been working on it for months, drawing every single frame of the film. It was such a wonderful process full of learning moments, shared joy and surprises! Soon we’ll travel to London to attend the exciting moment of the band seeing the film for the very first time and play the music for it.
The Stroke, a pile of the finished drawings
For me, this project is a great example of how doing new things (together), while leaning on existing skills, is so valuable. In this project, I was following the advice I gave to the students above. We tried, shared, reflected and worked a lot with our senses.
The full project will be presented later this year. Check out Vincent de Boer and/or Ill Considered for the updates!
Future plans and hopes.
Developing my artistic practice (with the help of MF), collective working, publishing more, connecting research and creative process.
For the upcoming months, I will continue developing my artistic practices. Since my practice is funded by Mondrian Fund's Emerging Artists stipend, I have time and space to do this.
Some concrete plans:
- With my friend and studio partner Jilles de Man we did a self-chosen creation-quarantine in our studio that will be exhibited during the ‘Groot Rotterdams Atelier Weekend’ in our studio at the Vondelweg 87.
- With the State of Mind collective, we are progressively working towards our first exhibition, which is very probably going to happen in January 2021, in WORM, Rotterdam.
- I’ll be teaching experimental typography with our High on Type collective on the HKU.
- Under the name Hennels Buchstadt, I am going to publish several booklets which shows a selection of drawings from the past years.
- I am working on a few series of abstracted calligraphic work that will be shown under my own name Hans Schuttenbeld.
About hopes: I hope that we experience the poetry that everyday life contains.