Right now, my job role describes me as visual artist and interior designer, who started his autonomous art path in 2021 after more than 30 years of practical experience. But this section asks me for my biography, so here is my (life) story.
Where the Story Begins: From School to University
Already all those years ago, I had been drawing and tinkering, but it was my art teacher in school who encouraged me to switch my main practical subject to art. Back then, I tried many things, e. g. fashion or car design. I even painted a mural with "Disney" characters for a local orphanage. Despite many people's voices urging me to do all kinds of things with my talent, I found myself studying fine arts and illustration in Liège, Belgium.
I will be blunt: I didn't know what to do with it. In the classroom, I adopted a painting style between realism and caricature where I preferred swinged brush strokes and overly sized human body parts. You can see an example in section image 1.
Section Image 1: "The Witch" was painted with Ecoline colors for a task given by one of my university professors. The task was to create a painting containing only one light source and to apply respective shadowing.
Outside of the classroom, I created advertisement and event materials, menu cards and more for a hotel.
How I Became Involved with Interior Design
After graduating from university in 1987, while I was still seeing myself illustrating books or trying caricature paintings live on the streets of Liège, I stumbled upon an opening in a newspaper searching for mural painters. Guess what? I got the job. For two years, I would paint realistic murals.
Then I found that one of the firm's products wasn't performing very well. For example, the photo paper that was used was fading out sooner than expected. So I proposed a solution to the management. Instead of trying to fix the damages over and over again, I would design and create something entirely new for the clients concerned.
My credo became to design unique art that meets the needs of the clients and creates a holistic atmosphere for their interiors.
Not only were the clients overjoyed with the results, I also got to satisfy my constant hunger for new challenges. This way, I became the lead artist in the firm.
What Made Me Independent
Many projects later, I had already taken on so much responsibility that I was ready to found my own firm. In 1994, I made it happen and put together a team. Under the firm name "BelArte," we brought various projects to life all over Europe from designing and painting swimming pools over diverse living rooms to entrance halls of other companies. Section image 2 shows you an example.
Section Image 2: In the Netherlands, my team and I painted the swimming pool of a mansion. For the murals we referenced the lake Lugano in Northern Italy, which was the clients' favorite motive. In order to match the motive, the ceiling was made to be a day sky. However, the sky was splitted open to give way to a starry sky where we captured the star signs of the clients' children.
After 14 years, the team broke apart and I wanted to spend more time with my family. So I took the path of solo freelancing, taking on interior designs as usual, but also commissoned orders for paintings and sculptures. In some ways, I became the guy you would go to when others were at their wits' ends.
Long Story Short: My Transition to Autonomous Art
Maybe it was age or maybe it were the troubled times we are currently facing that woke me up. In any case, I was prompted with the realization that nothing is set in stone. You don't have to get going like you did before and you certainly don't need to bend to others' ideals. Life is about choices and if you want to make a difference, then simply don't leave any stone unturned.
As an artist, there is nothing you can't do. A rock gets in your way? I'll make it a sculpture. In fact, I may even decide to give it a role in my paintings.
If my (life) story was not what you were looking for, perhaps you would like to view my career path on LinkedIn? Connect with me!