De hele zomer is een deel van Rassionmag fulltime in de Rooms of Red Bull aanwezig geweest. We zagen vaker een gekke Engels man voorbij lopen met het allerschattigste accent ooit. Nooit wisten we eigenlijk wat hij er deed. Tot we er achter kwamen dat hij dus die extreem getalenteerde Joe Holbrook is die dit weekend een expositie heeft in de Rooms of Red Bull.
Tijd voor een interview dachten we. Op het moment dat we met hem op de comfortabele bank in de creation room gingen zitten waren zijn landgenoten Amsterdam af aan het breken.
Why aren’t you outside along all the other English geezers supporting your football team?
I hate football, I really hate it.
Oke that’s nice to hear, tell us something about yourself.
I was born in 1988 in southeast London; I’ve been arrested for graffiti so I couldn’t go to the university. I had to do 50 days of community service and just missed jail. I went to art school for a year; it was a waste of time. Somebody telling you how to paint.. you’ve got to teach yourself really, develop your own style.
So how did you develop your style?
I started with graffiti, but then my teachers at my art school were pushing me to use brushes. I first was like fuck it, but in the end I did it and actually enjoyed it! I was 18 when I started doing portraits of people in different angles. I try to catch people in their own environment. I took pictures of people in the nightlife and made paintings from the pictures. I always use my own pictures for my paintings expect for one time when my camera got stolen in Barcelona haha. People often ask me how do you get the paintings to be so modern? Well, I just wanted to capture my life. How could I not make that modern? My life is modern.
What inspires you the most?
I’m inspired by nightlife, just being a young man, a teenager. The whole nightlife really attracts me; pictures in the dark create a deep image. People live for the weekend. The more messed up people get the more I love it, I can relate to that. I can’t relate to people who are clean cut and boring. I enjoy capturing fun in a snap shot of the night, I want to capture the night in his peek. I never paint stuff I don’ t love and if you draw chicks the whole time somebody else is going to love it aswell haha.
You have been living in Amsterdam for a few months now, how did you end up here?
Jeroen Smeets ( hoofdredacteur RELOAD magazine red.) went to my first exposition in London and emailed me a week later with the question if I wanted to come to Amsterdam. A couple of months later I was in my car with some paintings on the backseat on my way to Amsterdam. I had a meeting with Rooms of Red Bull and now I just paint here and have an exposition this weekend. The first month I was here I only made pictures, in places as café Belgique, Bitterzoet and Winston Kingdom and I’m now making paintings from the pictures I made there. I’m trying to sell some work so I can stay in Amsterdam for another 6 months, this place is so motivating. You know, I used to be a waiter in a restaurant, but I don’t want to do that kind of jobs anymore I want to be able to live of my art!
What makes you want to stay here?
Actually I’ve been here like 3 years ago and I hated it, I had only went to the Red Light District and some other tourist crap. Now I see Amsterdam in a whole different kind of way though, I met a lot of creative people and cool artists. I like the atmosphere here, it’s very chill. You guys just take everyday as it comes where as in London people are stressed, running around, screaming and shit. Also in England there’s a big ego about art. If you’re not their friend you don’t get love. While here there is a lot of support from the art galleries and also from the government. The only thing I hate about Amsterdam though, is that the beer is so fucking expensive!
Who are the people on your paintings?
The people on my site are only people from London or Barcelona. I paint random party people, but I prefer to paint my friends so I can think about the night I had with them. I don’t like painting something that doesn’t mean anything to me. The painting on my site called “ Sleeping Beauty” is a picture of my ex girlfriend on her birthday when she was drunk as hell, that’s my favourite painting actually. She meant a lot to me.
How do you live your life?
I don’t take life to seriously, I just take as it comes. And it comes pretty well. Back home it took about 7 days to finish a painting, while now I work three days on one painting. Today two paintings got ruined , which would normally make an artist cry, but for me it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a pain in the ass.
So Joe, are you creative in more ways?
I’m always creative with my hands. I never buy anything, I always make it!
En dat hebben we gezien. Deze mooie kruising tussen een hond en een kat heeft Joe speciaal voor Rassion Mag gemaakt met een mooi hompje roze klei.
Joe heeft van 14 tot en met 20 Augustus een expositie van zijn werk in de Rooms of Red Bull op de Oudezijds voorburgwal 24. Deze vrijdag om 20.00 begint hij met een leuk feestje. Zorg dat je hem gaat bekijken, want de man maakt kunst!
foto’s door Cath