fresh faces

This Fresh Faces is all about Vera Savelkouls. She is an illustrator and animator from The Netherlands. In the summer of 2019 she graduated Cum Laude from the Illustration/Animation course at AKV|St.Joost in Breda. In her work she likes to create worlds or make people conscious about current topics that are going on in the world. In her free time she draws plants and animals or things that inspire her in her daily life.

We asked Vera to react to three statements of artists.

“I think the talent of an artist very often and surprisingly does not lay in, “What was the idea and what artwork came out of it?” But the success of translating an idea into action is very often where the talent is to be found.” – Olafur Eliasson

The process of a project is very important, because that’s when the idea takes shape. Only then you find out whether the original idea actually was indeed a good idea. In my projects I prefer to start off with several ideas and pick one to develop further. I do however tend to overthink multiple concepts. But sometimes you just have to think: ‘fuck it’. And just start even though you might make mistakes. Sometimes it actually helps to let coincidences happen and to make mistakes. For example, there was a student at the educational program I work that painted a chair black for a project and accidentally left it standing outside in the rain. The rain ended up transforming the chair in a way she could have never foreseen. She hadn’t anticipated for this to happen, but it eventually worked out well for her final work. The same goes for the silkscreen process. You can never quite test on beforehand whether the colors transfer well. It’s always a gamble. But when it works out well, it’s a true gift and it gives a real boost. For example: printing two colors is always tricky, but when it’s not well aligned it sometimes actually ends up with a cool effect.  

 You discover so many different possibilities along the way. Results that you figured out on beforehand can end up differently. Sometimes you have to fully upset the concepts you came up with and kill your darlings. I used to hate that when a teacher told me that: kill your darlings. But during the rest of my time in school I did learn that it is good to take a step back from the path you are used to take and try something different. That stuck with me. Sometimes these different phases in the making process even become part of the eventual story. During the process you also learn the most. You can fully discover what works for you, and what doesn’t. When you ask yourself questions during such a process and talk to others about it, you will learn the most and will also grow as an artist. You need to keep reflecting on yourself. I do find it hard to say if you can see someone’s talent based on the process. A well thought process or idea can still result in something that misses the mark.  

“When I would see bands have to get up on stage and play songs that they wrote 30 years ago and pretend that they’re excited to play them… That might’ve kill me. But when you make a movie, you don’t have to perform that movie ever again. You get to put it away and then you get to restart and do whatever the fuck you want to do that represents to you at that time. I really liked that aspect of creativity.” – Mark Duplass

I would also absolutely not be thrilled making the same illustration or doing the same projects again and again for 30 years long, so I get where this is coming from. Each time I finished a project in school, I was so happy that it was over. During eight weeks you were so busy investigating and designing a story. All your free time was invested in the project, and it was always on your mind. This helps in discovering all the parts of the story you want to tell, which is exactly what makes art so interesting. As you are so intensively invested in something, it becomes a part of you. That’s why I think that art projects are most of the time very personal. It represents your thoughts and perspectives. I once made an installation called ‘Huis’ (House). This was my first installation ever. At first I started building because I felt like building something for a change. Eventually it became a very personal project, video mapping visuals of my feelings on a house. When I explained these feelings to the visitors of the exposition, many of these wereactually recognized. I think that’s beautiful. A project so personal but still very identifiable to others.       

I think that if you play the same song for 30 years, you will find a way to keep it enjoyable to play. I listen to music a lot. And I hear that live versions of songs are sometimes a little different than the studio versions. That trick might also apply to art. When you trace an existing illustration, it also always turns out slightly different. In time you start using other colors or techniques anyway. You will continue to grow as an artist anyway and keep looking for other forms to work with. Just take a look at the tree by Mondriaan. He painted the same tree over and over again, and it kept on turning out differently in the three years he did this. That’s what I find interesting about people: they always want to evolve. If you would ask a robot to make the same painting every day, he will do so. But is that fun? Definitely not. Change is wat makes live exciting and challenging.  

“Many events have killed the film industry: the 1918 influenza epidemic, the second world war, the invention of television, the invention of VCRs, the invention of the internet, 9-11, strike after strike after strike. And yet, like a phoenix, it rises, every time stronger than before. […] The business is built on passion, and that is pandemic-proof.” – The Guardian

When you are truly passionate about something, nothing can change that. I think you can take something, good or bad, from every occasion. Many people use art to process something. That’s what I love about art. Everything is possible and nothing is obliged. You are who you are and you can really show that. And because of that, art, and therefore film, is very agile. It can transform into anything and it is timeless. People will, although sometimes unaware, always need it. During the lockdown, Netflix even had to lower its image quality to prevent overloading the internet connection. Watching a film, you are not just sitting and watching. You also feel different emotions. Just like with any form of art. The world would be a dull place without illustrators, film makers, artists, writers, musicians, game developers, designers etcetera. They offer the tools to escape a world in which terrible things happen. In art, time pauses for a moment.

Learn more about Vera’s work: