If you fancy a bit of eye candy, Ace & Tate’s new Antwerp store is the place to be. Dutch illustrator-slash-painter Jordy van den Nieuwendijk is the creative mastermind behind the revamp of the new Belgian hotspot, co-designed by Standard Studio. With aspirations of foregrounding the “painter” in that slash career, we believe this mural will prove he’s more than worthy. Classic, minimal eyewear and liberal amounts of multi-coloured illustrative genius—we have high hopes for this dreamy collab. We caught up with Van den Nieuwendijk to discuss his inspirations and love/hate relationship with Frank Zappa.
Could you tell us a bit about your collab with Ace & Tate? What motivated this partnership?
It started with Mark [De Lange], the founder of Ace & Tate, showing an interest in one of my prints. We started emailing a year ago to see if some kind of collaboration was possible, but we kept cancelling each other’s appointments because we were travelling or out of the country. Now that Ace & Tate is opening new stores in Europe, for each store they’re working with a different artist. They had me in mind for the Antwerp store, so this was a great opportunity to finally work together on a project.
What can we expect to see? How would you describe your vision for the space?
They asked me to do a mural, and I also did little pops of colour all over the store. The shop is based in Antwerp, and just as many cities have a symbol, Antwerp has the hand. So I made two hands that form the shape of glasses. That’s the sort of theme that’s running through the store in different places. It’s simple but fun.
The setting provides a much larger canvas than you’re used to working with. How did you alter your working process to adapt to this?
As a teenager I did a lot of graffiti so I’m used to doing murals! It’s nothing new; I’m not scared of a size like that.
Does this hint at the possibility of future interior design prospects, or is this strictly a one-off project?
I wouldn’t really call it interior design—although I wish I were in charge of the plants and the tables too. [Laughs] I enjoy that you can walk around in a physical space; I like seeing my work in 3D instead of flat. I’m always working with depth to make the work pop out, and if it really pops out in a space—that’s exciting stuff to play with. Everybody has dreams, and one of mine is to design sets for a stage play in a theatre. Maybe in the tiniest way possible, this is an entry point to that…
When we tried to reach you earlier this week, you mentioned that you were teaching. Can you tell us a little bit about that and whether it influences your work?
Helping and teaching students to learn their strengths and weaknesses is interesting for me. I think when I was studying graphic design at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague I wasn’t the best student. I had talent and I used that talent in the way that I did my assignments the night before deadline—we’ve all been there. Teaching at the KABK now is an opportunity to make up for not being an excellent student. I mean, I’ve used all the excuses; it’s very hard for students to come up with new ones that I haven’t used myself, so I enjoy that bit too. [Laughs]
We hear you’re a David Hockney fan. What is it about his work that you find so inspiring?
When I was studying graphic design, I had teachers telling me loads about websites, typography and basic composition, but slowly in my spare time I started to discover the work of Hockney. I bought a book of his and thought he was so articulate, so good at storytelling, and it was just a pleasure to read about him, his work and his interests. He sort of became a mentor without knowing it. I might have overdone it a little bit; I think I now own 56 of his books. He’s definitely an influence on my work, obviously I try not to copy but if you stare at someone’s work all the time, it must influence you and your way of thinking.
Do you listen to music when you work?
Yes! Right now I’m working on 40 new paintings for an exhibition at Kunsthal Rotterdam, which is opening 1 October. I must admit, Frank Zappa is back again. I love his music and I hate his music; sometimes it’s just fucking annoying. Some songs are on repeat all the time—like Peaches En Regalia. That can be on repeat all day; I’m just really going strong on that one.
If there were one thing you’d like to achieve with your work, what would it be?
At this moment I’m an illustrator who also paints. In ten years from now, I would like to be a painter who also does illustrations. Changing my focus to painting—I think that’s the next thing that I am really diving into.