Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Interview with Gaby Zwaan, Dutch Artist

Gaby Zwaan is a Dutch painter from the Netherlands who currently lives in Bussum. He surprises people constantly with his unconventional style using various colors of paint, glue, stitches, drawn art and his favorite drink, Diet Cola to step outside the barrier of conventional art. Today I interviewed him via Skype; his complete bio can be found here.

Okay Gaby first question – How long have you been in the game and which came first, sneakers or sneaker art?

I liked sneakers my whole life, when you’re a teenager they are pretty prominent and I’ve been wearing them ever since – and I only started painting two years ago and I made a career painting really fast – so its only been two years since I started painting sneakers. My Sneaker Art is only 1/4th of my painting life though.

What would you enjoy more, drawing new Sneaker Art or buying a new pair of Sneakers?

Well, I guess for the short term I would like it better to buy new sneakers and wear them, but for the long term I like painting sneakers and seeing people enjoy them. If I had to choose I would only paint sneakers.

What’s your favorite medium to use?

Well I paint on cardboard (old bike boxes) and then put them on a canvas …so street meets gallery.... for now that is how I like to do my work.... come and see it the 8th in Brooklyn if you’re interested ;) I also have also got an Arttoy Collaboration coming out in September by the way.

Will do! Can you hint can at what you’re working on?

It will be a 12 piece series.... inspired by the 80's and sneakers... it's going to be really fun... I can’t tell you more yet though.

Okay, I’m definitely looking forward to that! Gaby, were you born, rather, have you always lived in the Netherlands?

I was born in the Netherlands and I have been here the whole time - I lived abroad for a bit though and I lived in Paris and the Bahamas, but mainly my base has been Holland.

What have you done recently and what’s your plan for the upcoming year?

My first thing is to come to Brooklyn to do a sneaker show on August 8, and then after I plan on going to the fashion trade show in Vegas, and I just got back from France where I did a painting for the Livestrong foundation on the final climb on stage 16 for the Tour de France - I had to be there 5 in the morning! It was a real adventure (chuckles) - they really loved it so they put it on their website.

Gaby hard at work...

Dirty art hands!

And the finished product!

Oh wow – that’s impressive, stage 16 in the Tour de France is pretty intense let alone painting on it!

Yeah it was really cool. In the upcoming year I have three other shows planned, one in the United States and 2 in Europe and I’m basically painting all the pictures for that.

I’m sure you were aware of the Stages pack coming out (Nike/Livestrong)/what’s your take on it?

Yes I'm aware of that. I also saw the Stage show pictures – the show was just in Paris. My take on all this is that I think there are too many Livestrong/Nike sneakers coming out.... way too many.

So you would say it's being overdone to an extent?

Yes I think so...I do like the Futura/Dunk that came out (below).... but way too many Livestrong/Nike sneakers are coming out.

Ok I have to ask this question, what’s your favorite sneaker?

My favorite sneakers are anything that’s Nike dunk - my favorite one is the Nike Dunk Hi - I like all black all white, all purple colorways.

So you like solid sneakers?

It’s not only in sneakers – it’s also in my fashion but yeah I’ve started to be less colorful fashion wise but more colorful in my paintings (chuckles)

It’s a tradeoff of sorts then!

Yeah - id rather be screaming on my paintings rather than the things that I’m wearing.

I suppose that makes you seem like a very unassuming guy when people view your artwork - but it adds to the shock effect.

Yeah it does - they think I’m this quiet little guy in a corner and then they see my paintings and go oh wow! - im pretty colorful on the inside though.

In the last two years out of all the paintings you’ve done what’s your favorite piece?

Probably the creative people reading will understand this - but always the last painting is your favorite you know, because when your working on it it’s really fun, and then when it’s done, it’s part of everything else I’ve done. So it’s always the painting I’m working at the moment that’s my favorite.

Who inspires you artistically?

Well, I don’t think there are any people that inspire me, it’s more the….the… city and nature. I like big cities like NY and when I’m there I get inspired by everything I see, buildings and what people wear so it’s not people that inspire me , but more what people did.

Citymove, a piece by Gaby Zwaan

So you just take that all in and absorb it?

Yeah I guess (chuckles), I just take it in like a sponge and absorb it and all of a sudden sometimes I go “OH I saw this there and there” and that inspires me. There’s actually one person I find very inspiring though – the person I think is very inspiring – and I’m actually going to do my next project for him is Tinker Hatfield- He’s from Nike and he’s their head of design there. He did Air Max and the Air Jordan’s and my next project is going to be about him.

I’ve seen a picture of your tattoo on the inside of your arm it looks pretty dope – what does it mean to you?

Well it’s the bottom of my favorite sneaker - the Nike Dunk – So it’s actually the sole of my shoe on the sole of my body. They say that your veins link you to your soul - so I put it where my big vein is on my arm, so it could connect to the soul of my body.

That’s intense - how long have you had it?

I’ve had it for three years - it was a birthday present from my girlfriend.

Is that the only sneaker related tattoo you have or do you have more? (chuckles)

No it’s my only one. (chuckles)

Is there anything else you want to say before we wrap up?

I would like to say to all the people that I would love to meet them, I don’t know if there’s anyone in Brooklyn that likes sneakers but if they do I’d like to invite them to come and drink with me (chuckles). I would like to invite everyone in Brooklyn and NY to have a drink with this Dutch man. (chuckles)

(chuckles) Ok Gaby - thanks a bunch! I hope to see you in NY!

Okay – I’m coming in on the third so I’ll see you soon!

Gaby Zwaan will be attending our Sneaker Art event on the 8th of August. Thanks Gaby!
-Taylor Gimbel

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