Tuesday 30 April 2013

Tell All Tuesday ~ Featured Artist: Misja van Laatum

Hi guys...I'm back, that means TAT is too, and I'm really excited because having recently been under the creative weather lets say I found this weeks artist a truly interesting read of new perspectives...just what my arty doc would order. If I had one, anyways. I'm betting. Yeah. For sure. Anyways, enjoy =)

Tell us a little bit about yourself & what kind of artist you are.
My name is Misja van Laatum and I live in a small city in the Netherlands. I've been a creative tinkerer for as long as I can remember. I grew up drawing and painting, building, reading and exploring. This was largely due to the good example my parents gave me: my mother was a teacher and my father an administrator (for the same school no less!) but both were great artists in my opinion. However, the economic situation in the seventies meant that becoming professional artists and starting a family was pretty much an impossible combination. Nevertheless they both kept painting and drawing in their free time. My father switched to mostly assemblage and collage in the eighties.
I'm no professional artist either (well – not in the traditional sense anyway); I finished art school as a digital designer and I work as a freelancer doing all sorts of graphic work and game design.
Art-wise I like to use a lot of different techniques: I enjoy drawing, painting, bookbinding, collage and (some) etching but mostly I'm into mixed media and assemblage. My works are usually small. I work with boxes, found objects and ephemera. There are many, many artists I admire but some of them are truly inspirational: Joseph Cornell, Carel Willink, Nick Bantock, Giorgio de Chirico and Lisa Nilsson to name but a few.
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it?
There's a number of challenges I face as an artist (and I do think they are the same hurdles that most – if not all – creative people face) but it's hard to arrange them 'smallest' to 'largest'.
There's the very mundane and down-to-earth practical side of if: I'd love to spend a big portion of my time in the studio but until I've figured out how to make an actual living out of it, my art remains a glorified hobby. And I'm not even sure that's a bad thing; it means that 'studio time' is essentially 'me time' where I get to make things I truly like, at my own pace and to my own standards.
I find a bigger challenge in the doubts that pop up regularly: is what I'm making relevant? Do I even like my own work? Will it ever be 'good enough'? How do I keep myself from re-hashing the same ideas over and over again? And these doubts can be really hard to overcome... they can be crippling from time to time. Stepping away and doing something completely different does help: go swimming, take a long walk, play video games, hang out with friends. Doubts never last (or they haven't until now!) and I always find they're outweighed by the pleasure of creating.
What is your heart’s greatest desire for your life as an artist?
Good question, and a really hard one. My 'heart's great desire' suggests that there's some goal I'm working towards and that's not the case. I'm still learning and I fully expect to keep learning as long as I keep creating art. But there are certainly a number of things I'd like to accomplish in the (near) future; I enjoy working in cooperation so I'd like to participate in (more) group exhibitions and possibly – once I feel I'm proficient enough – organize workshops or courses. I enjoy writing so 'publishing a book' is one of those long-term items on my bucket list.
Furthermore I would love to set up a museum. And fill it to the creaking rafters with nonsensical objects, weird art and strange books. Admittedly this is towards the very-unlikely-to-ever-happen end of the spectrum, but who doesn't like to dream? I wouldn't be the first however, take a look at these for instance: Nick Bantocks 'The Museum at Purgatory' (http://goo.gl/1Bxxs), The Museum of Jurassic Technology (http://mjt.org/) and more.
Do you ever lose your mojo, and if so, how do you get it back?
It happens from time to time, but not that often. Thank goodness.
I'm very much a 'picture thinker', so usually when I start working on an object it's the culmination of a much longer process that has been going on inside my head – sometimes for absolutely ages. The actual 'making' of an artwork; the collecting, arranging, painting and assembling is – usually - just the final stage.
So to keep making art I need to keep feeding my head (heart? soul?) new and exciting titbits of the world around me. We all do this, all the time: you watch films, read books, meet people, travel the world. Keep an open mind, open your eyes wide, listen, taste and feel. All the time.
But I do lose my mojo every now and then: usually when I'm over-burdened with work, or when I'm worried or sad. What do I do when this happens? First of all: don't panic. I trust that inspiration, creativity and ideas come back as soon as I've made room for them. They never leave, but sometimes you stop listening to them...
Secondly: kick-start the creative process. After one of these "dry spells" I've made a habit of visiting a place that's new to me: a museum I haven't been to, a city, park or forest I haven't seen yet, etc. I'll take my time; take pictures, make sketches, search for anything that might be useful in my studio (you know: leaves, seeds, pebbles, second hand books and postcards, etc.).
And finally: start working without a plan. I sit down, grab whatever comes to hand and just start making stuff. Painting, drawing, writing, anything. It doesn't have to be 'good' or 'pretty' – getting back into the flow is what matters. Sometimes the end results are surprising, sometimes they're horrible, but they always get me going again...
Tell us where can we find out more about you & your art?
My website – which is very sparse at the moment, but I'm working on that – can be found at: http://www.misjavanlaatum.nl It's all in Dutch for now, but the relevant bit of it (my portfolio) is a Flickr feed that contains just pictures and comments in English. I also keep a Flickr set with works in progress - it can be found at: http://goo.gl/g8YYN

Thank you so much Misja, I love that you don't think you have something 'big' that you're working towards but have such awesome bucket list desires - as you say you're working towards something when you create without even realising it, so all your desires are undoubtedly coming nearer to you too =) Reading your interview was very refreshing to me and I think you have unknowingly made me recognise something I've wanted to do for my art, for myself, for a while but never consciously acknowledged so thanks =) I guess we'll see if I do it if I do a near future post on it...

Email me or click the link to find all the details here =)
Much love


  1. VERY much enjoyed today's TAT and meeting Misja van Laatum! Always am interested when its an artist from the Netherlands since I have family in Friesland and feel a special kinship because of that. Misja's art is so different from the norm and very exciting because of it. I visited his site and looked at the gallery -- like the shadowbox pieces especially.

    Thank you for sharing another TAT with us Jenny! ((hugs))

  2. Another inspiring TAT, Jenny! I immediately fell in love with Misha's creative art form! Thanks you both for the time and sharing!


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