Wouldn’t it be awesome to be an artist? No dusty office with a nagging boss, but inspiring colleagues and a cool studio. Marte Haverkamp (31) is an artist and with her studio situated in the building of ‘De Bonte Zwaan’, she fits into this idyllic picture perfectly. When I arrive at her studio – which overlooks the waters of the western banks of the IJ – I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t exchange their uninspiring office for a life full of creativity and freedom. But like every other story, there is always more than meets the eye.
One thing I’d love to know about her work is how these beautiful pieces were created. What happens inside the creative brain of Marte? “It’s very difficult to explain what exactly happens inside my head when I’m creating new pieces. Different thoughts cross my mind at certain moments, but it is hard to remember them all, as they’re constantly tumbling through, over and sometimes even into each other. The work from ‘HOOFD STROOM’ (BRAIN FLOW) – a series of 100 collages – is exactly about this string of thoughts. The collages of these series are consist of different layers, just like my thoughts do” A glimpse into the mind of Marte shows me that artists have a lot of brain flows that tangle up sometimes. The way she manages to transform these into some fine pieces of art however, remains to my opinion an art in itself.
A small corner in the room she shares with other artists is where you’ll find her workplace. The amazing collages, big and small, aren’t the only objects you can find here. Marte’s studio is filled with fabrics, patterns and inspiring pieces of art. One thing that can’t be overlooked is the ‘hotel’, simply constructed out of cardboard, which stands on top of her desk. “I created these two first,” Marte explains while she points at two stuffed animals shaped like the shadow of a rabbit. “I soon realized however, that although the animals were a great alternative for the fluffy puffy pink and blue ones we mostly see, the ones I made were too big. Such a big, grey rabbit didn’t make sense lying next to a small baby.” Marte decided to create smaller pieces too and ended up with the great idea to give these ‘Stuffed Shadows’ a home in the form of a hotel. But the animals are now ready to be ‘checked-out’ and leave the hotel with their new owners.
Talking about the creative process of her work, Marte is clearly the passionate artist that you would expect her to be. But there also exists a bitter truth of reality in the romantic life of an artist. Never knowing how people are going to respond to new pieces and series can be scary sometimes. And the same counts for promoting yourself and your work. “Facebook is a great way to overcome this fear. I can put something online, sit down and wait for the reactions to come up. But I can’t deny that it can be quite painful when I end up waiting for ‘likes’ on my post that never actually come,” Marte says laughing. “At the same time however, I can’t imagine a world without internet. How would I promote my art otherwise?”
Isn’t it true that meeting with people in person is still very important these days? “Sure! A lot of people like to know the person behind the product. And I’m just like them. I mean, I never buy something online. Ever. That is also one of the reasons why I came up with the idea to sell my ‘Stuffed Shadows’ at the Local Goods Market. I visited an earlier edition of this market and there I realized that my products are not going to sell themselves.”
Artists, and other creative people are often not very good at selling ‘themselves’ and their work. Being a salesman or an artist usually is a very different field of work. “A totally different field, yes. But it is funny that I actually manage to do these kinds of sales and marketing things for other people. When I am not working in my studio, I work at a wine bar. Here I ‘buy’ myself the free time that I need for creating my art. For this bar, I am responsible for the Facebook page; I come up with events and even make flyers to promote them. So why can’t I do the same for my own creations and products? While learning, I am already more capable of looking at my own work from more of a distance than I was before. This helps me to see and create the right strategies I need to sell and promote my art. Furthermore, I told myself to just say ‘yes’ to the requests that I often get from colleagues and friends. Even when I have no idea if I could actually do what people ask me to do. I rather lie awake at night, figuring out how to do it, than say no because I’m insecure about my capabilities. I’m constantly searching for the best ways to live my life as an artist. It is hard some times, but I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m still learning every day.”
This Saturday (November 8th, 2014) you can find Marte and her ‘Stuffed Shadow Hotel’ at the Local Goods Market at De Hallen. Pakhuis de Zwijger organizes this event, in association with Indie Brands and the platform Made in Amsterdam. Make sure to visit her website www.studiomarte.nl as well, to see the other amazing and inspiring pieces of art that she created!
(Photos: Roeltje van de Sande Bakhuyzen)