Quin Scholten is a fifth year Product Design student at WdKA. Having a background in Graphic Design, Quin started off his time at the academy at the Illustration department. During that year he found out that he was more interested in 3d shapes and materiality, so he decided to switch to Product Design from the second year on. And now, years later, he is busy graduating. While most students graduate at the end of the academic year, Quin follows a different path by choosing to delay his graduation. In this article, you can read all about his graduation project.
What is your graduation project about?
“The idea behind my graduation project is to question the aliveness in the objects around us. The fascination for this topic started already when I studied Illustration in my first year. I was mostly focused at comics at that time. When illustrating, I was making inanimate things animate; making plants walk, objects smile, etc. When I switched to product design, this became harder. You can’t just easily make an object move from itself. This challenged me to explore other ways to bring objects to life and thereby make things we see as inanimate animate.
I did a lot of research into belief systems that see objects as conscious beings, like animistic religions. I wanted to apply this thinking to western society by questioning: Would it help us to value the objects around us more if we would see it as something that is alive? Is it possible to see them as such? How can a closer relationship with an object defeat an anthropocentric world view? Would this stimulate sustainability?”
What were the stages of your research and creative process? Where are you now?
“First I created this animated comic world based on the concept and research question I had. This world contains the shape language that now forms the basis of my design. There were no exact things I wanted to make yet, but I knew the language. From that point, I started creating. The objects turned out to be pretty big, I feel like this was necessary for me to show the aliveness in them.
I am now in the ending phase of the project. I made a lot of creatures, between 15-20. It’s a whole family already, I really see them as such. The idea of an object comes from the idea that we use something, I would want to see it preferably as a collaboration. That’s why I like to call the things I make beings or creatures instead of objects."
Why did you choose for this material?
“I chose ceramics as my material because it is a living material. You can build with it, but it also goes its own way while you’re working with it. Instead of sketching the objects first, I chose to form them while making them. I see my practice as a conversation between me and the clay. My work is a collaboration between the material, me and the surrounding.
Before this project, I didn’t have a lot of experience with clay. I only made small pieces before. So a lot of my time also went to experiencing with the material, but this went together with creating the objects. You can see this process of me getting better with the material in my sculptures. I think that’s a really interesting layer to my project, since it is questioning perfection. What is it? You can only decide if it’s good enough yourself as an artist. You decide your own standards.”
How are you feeling about graduating?
“I thinks it’s nice that you can choose your own project and I’m very happy that I can do this. A lot of students are stressing out about it, but I think it’s really fun and I don’t want to forget to enjoy the process. Graduating is also learning to filter the feedback of teachers, to distinguish what is useful for you and what not and most importantly to not lose yourself in the opinion of others. Making your own decisions is what makes you an individual / autonomous artist. So I feel like it’s a good thing to go against feedback of others sometimes, with a reason of course.
There is an idea that you have to decide what you’re gonna make beforehand, but I like to turn this process around. I just had a shape language and with that I started creating. A lot of people didn’t understand me, but I want to make my work speak for its self. When the objects took shape, more people understood what I tried to do.
I think more people should just start making and creating and get out of their heads. It’s important to not only feed your concept, also feed your visual language and balance the two out. Together they tell the story the best. An interesting story is nothing without the work, and the other way around.”
Why did you choose to graduate later?
“I just felt like my project was not yet completed in the end of the previous period so to me it felt more like a necessity. I had the idea, the comic with the shape language and some samples but no materialisations yet. So I wanted to focus more on bringing the idea and shape language to life by creating 3D ceramic objects. When I started working with the clay, I knew I had made the right decision to take my time to develop the clay characters.
I did feel stressed sometimes, because some people want you to be done and see results. I got more stress from others then from myself. A little stress can be healthy, but with this project I wanted to take my time and follow my own tempo.
My priority is to deliver work that is also valuable for myself. After school I also want to be an autonomous artist and so I need to to learn how to work in my own tempo, making my own deadlines. I am already doing that now. Creating restrictions for yourself but also giving yourself the freedom you need. Finding that balance is important for me."
Will you be presenting your work at the grad show?
“Yes, definitely! The graduation show is the most important deadline for me, since it would be a great end of my time here by showing the ceramics family I created. I’m not sure yet how I’m gonna present it yet, but I definitely will.”