Dutch artist Jacco Bunt talks about how painting inspires his client work
Jacco Bunt is an illustrator based in Rotterdam. He graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy in 2015 and has worked on a diverse range of projects ever since.
With his work, he tries to capture the essence of our daily life and translate this into colorful and balanced compositions. Influenced by early 20th-century art movements he devoted his work to creating posters, illustrations, and paintings and not be limited to a certain medium.
Can you share the story of where you grew up, what your early interests were and how you became an artist / illustrator?
I was born in a town within a hour south of Amsterdam called Alphen aan den Rijn. When I was younger I was only focused on football but that changed when I was 14/15 years old. Thanks to new friends I got in touch with different things. They were heavily into skating and I got introduced into a new world where there are no limitations. Everyday became an adventure to push boundaries and try new things. Everything related to skateboarding is graphically orientated like videos, music, posters, shirts, graffiti, and because my friends were already into drawing I wanted to try that out too. So, that’s where it all started for me.
What drives you as an artist? Can you tell us about your inspirations and ideas?
I starting drawing around the age of 18 and got accepted to art school when I was 21, I had the feeling I had a lot of catching up to do compared to my classmates. That idea of catching up is still the biggest driver to push me to create every day, to learn and try out new things, and to keep progressing my work.
Most of my work is like a visual diary and is a reflection of what sparked my interest in that moment in time. Series of food, architectural forms, stories, music, etc. For a long period of time I used to reflect on my daily life with a drawing to push myself to create and practise my skills.
When did you first get into painting? How does painting inform and influence your commercial client work?
I started painting during my studies. After experimenting with drawing, different ways of using colour and compositions, I tried to translate my digitalised work into paintings. Starting out small but eventually trying out bigger and bigger canvasses. Scaling up your work to the biggest size possible gives you different possibilities of composition and use of colour. The way I use acrylic is actually the same as using the brush/bucket tool in Adobe Photoshop, only difference is now when you want to paint yellow you have to paint it like 5/6 layers for it to become the bright yellow you had in mind.
The different techniques and experiments I tryout in my free work always influence my next commercial job. Basically, in my free work I fill up my bucket of ideas and inspiration from which I pull in my commercial work. I can’t do the one without the other.
In my free work I fill up my bucket of ideas and inspiration from which I pull in my commercial work. I can’t do the one without the other.
How does the Berlin lifestyle influence your work? Do you enjoy being there?
Working from a different place than you’ve lived most of your life can be hugely inspirational for everyone. I know it is for me. After doing a residency in Berlin I decided to stay a bit longer and explore the city. Somehow a little longer became two years but I still travel back and forth between the Netherlands and Berlin pretty often.
The city has a lot to offer when it comes to culture and history and has hugely influenced my work in the last years. Creatively and personally it changed me and there is still a lot to enjoy. So for me Berlin is the best place to be at the moment.
Do you have any creative heroes? Writers, artists, musicians, family members or friends who influenced you as you were growing up?
Everybody has heroes or people who they look up too while they grow up, to develop your taste, to expand your views, and to learn and adapt from others. For me for example Piet Parra was such a mythical guy growing up . His posters and t-shirts made we want to do the same things as he did. Below is a random list of people/groups who influenced me to do what I do in different stages of my life; Bauhaus, De Stijl, Italian Futurism, Piet Parra, Piet Mondriaan, Sol LeWitt, Pablo Picasso, Tal R and Juan Gris. These are only visual creatives but there are plenty of movies, books and especially music that made me who I am today.
When you’re not working, what’s your favourite way to spend the day? Where do you like to hang out in Berlin or farther afield?
Either I spend the day with my girlfriend walking in our neighbourhood getting coffee and snacks enjoying the streets of Berlin. Usually in the neighbourhoods Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, Kreuzberg because they have most to offer food/drink wise and there are beautiful parks. Or I’m back in the Netherlands hanging out with family and friends.
Where do you go to escape and get some thinking time? Has this changed since lockdown?
Being a freelance artist/illustrator you’re often working by yourself, you’re the only one making decisions and you have to figure out what the next steps are going to be. So lockdown wasn’t that different for me except the stores were closed. Every day I would go for a walk in the park close to our house like normal. I think for a lot of people lockdown changed their whole life but being a creative working from home or having your own studio this is a reality, so emotionally we were prepared for this!
How do you create work? Can you tell us about your working process – what materials do you like to use?
Everything starts out with small little sketches of compositions with or without figurative elements. This usually revolves around something I watched that day, encountered on the streets, found on Pinterest or a meal or snack I had. After filling up some a4 papers with different elements and compositions I choose the best ones to finalise. I usually do this on grid paper and after the sketch done I trace the final drawing on a Lightbox with pencil. I colour the scan of the final drawing digitally in Photoshop. These steps are the basis of every work. For a painting I take the same steps but after finishing the colour digitally I will transfer the sketch onto canvas and use the digital file as a reference while I paint.
Can you tell us anything about the projects you’re currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a project that will result in some A2 risoprints and a small risoprinted publication of 120 pages. This publications will show lots of different line drawings and elements I’ve used in my work lately . This project is a collaboration between Paris based publisher, printing house Quintal editions, and me.
Most of the project I’ve done recently finished last week so now I’m waiting on some pitches to get a green light before I can start working on them. Alongside commercial projects I try to experiment on my own and work on things like coloured pencil drawings and small paintings.
Where do you see your work taking you in the next decade? What kind of projects, collaborations, experiences do you hope to cultivate for yourself?
In the coming ten years I would like to establish myself as an artist and therefore I want to create a good work environment in a studio where I can do all the things I want. Part of growing is experimenting and learning from others, so in order from me to do that I would like to do more residencies in parts of the world I’ve never been and where I can learn from different cultures to become a better person/artist.
I can do all the things I want. Part of growing is experimenting and learning from others, so in order from me to do that I would like to do more residencies in parts of the world I’ve never been and where I can learn from different cultures to become a better person/artist.
Something I want to improve in is for example using different materials like ceramic, woodcuts and sculptures to visualise my work. And for me to establish this I want to work together with inspiring people and learn from them. Hopefully my work can also make it possible to work and live in different cultures like Korean or Japanese and work together with creatives from there. I believe working together is the best way of learning and creating visually innovative work.