Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, whose eye-catching paintings explore fundamental objects of everyday life, is a man on a mission. One look at his vast body of work and it’s obvious he likes to keep busy. Often walking the line between charming and mature, Jordy’s work is underpinned by an underlying optimism that is assuredly refreshing. Working predominantly with primary colours and simplified shapes, the Dutch artist—currently living and working in Melbourne—talent lies in breathing life into his subjects.
Tasked with designing and painting a New York-inspired mural for the rag & bone Newsstand in Incu Chadstone, Jordy illustrated a fresh take on The Big Apple and all of its spoils. Below, take a peek inside Jordy’s world, get a feel for how his mural came together and learn more about his approach to art.
You can find his painting at the rag & bone Newsstand for the month of June at Incu Chadstone.
Hi Jordy. What’s new in your world?
After a year-and-a-half of working from home in Fitzroy, I recently settled in a studio in Collingwood. It’s a small place, however filled with light. From here I will work on my paintings, so that’s exciting. Our dog Bell had her haircut today. A full buzz cut; they trimmed a few years of her age.
If you could only have three things to create art, what would they be?
What I enjoy about my practice is that I can basically draw with anything that leaves a mark, on almost any surface. However, having said that, to me there is nothing like drawing with 1.) a Lamy ABC Fountain Pen (maple wood and shiny red cap) in a 2.) Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook (plain) while 3.) drinking a flat-white, (get the heart rate going).
Make work. Show work. Talk about your work. Money comes and goes. Clients come and go. However your portfolio will never go. Keep adding to it. Your portfolio is the real capital.
What pushes you to be a better artist?
The insecurities, the doubt, thinking I’m still not there yet, anxiety, trying and failing, the usual when it comes to being a freelance creative/ painter. I don’t congratulate myself too much, and always try to follow my gut feeling and instincts. Trust my sketches.
Do you work in silence or does something have to be playing in the background? If so, what’s playing?
I do love a bit of Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Harry’s (my brother-in-law) Country and Western playlists, and to be honest anything from the 80s that includes nasal voices and synthesizers. I'm trying hard not to say glamrock.
Your works are playful, yet disciplined and contained. You’ve referred to this in the past as ‘new purism’. Tell us more about your style.
I see a challenge in trying to capture a subject in a few lines. Like when you play Pictionary and your parents have one minute to guess what it is. I myself see the playful curliness and use of colours in my work almost as celebrating drawing itself. However friends of friends have described it as childish “in a good way” and decorative (Ouch!).
How do you know when an artwork is finished?
This is the hardest question, are you ready for a vague answer? I start with an idea, and try to translate this to the plane; the rectangle as you will, keep adding, composing, adjusting, removing and then suddenly, the work feels finished. It's quite peculiar. Then the next day, it gets itchy… Is it finished? Ugh.
Talk to us about the New York-inspired design you created for the rag & bone pop-up.
New York is a place we have all seen on TV, the news, movies or real-life. I enjoy how a few icons can instantly say ‘New York’, a yellow cab, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, a hot-dog or pizza, even just an apple. Maybe all I had to do was capture these icons in a composition. They are already so strong on their own. For example; It would be hard to draw Marseille or Brighton in a few icons.
You and your partner Kate seem to be quite the creative powerhouse. How do you draw inspiration from one another?
As Kate is often, if not always the first person that sees anything I make, I value her unsalted opinion. Sometimes I get defensive as I’m emotionally connected to the work I make. Sometimes it takes twenty minutes for feedback to settle. In the end it’s like any little argument; I hate to admit it, but she’s always right…
How has Melbourne been? In your blog, you once wrote about a possum infiltrating the home. Does Australia live up to the perception of creepy crawlies in every corner as the outside world sees us?
When walking our dog Bell at Yarra Bend Park in Melbourne, I mostly focus on the tall grass near the Yarra River; waiting for a snake to jump out. When I hang the washing on the drying rack in our garden I carefully inspect the clothing pegs basket before I put my hand in there. Every evening while watching Hard-Quiz a mouse pops up in the corner of my eyes. And yes, I do shake my shoes before I put them on, even in Fitzroy.
I’m slowly getting used to the 'slanguage'. A friend ended a phone conversation with “see you in the Arvo” and I had to ask him ‘where’ the Arvo was… thought it was a pub. Kate called me 'Muffintops' on the beach, I still don’t know what that means.
rag & bone prides itself on a commitment to authenticity and living out personal truths. How does this relate to you and your work for the upcoming pop-up?
Drawing and painting are both very intimate, very personal. You can say drawing is like handwriting. It's this output of my head, heart and hand. Authenticity comes in when I paint solely what I feel like painting, follow the gut feeling, the instinct, the enthusiasm and mysteriousness around a certain subject, a fascination with an object. I try to stick to what interests me. I hope in a way, because of this, there is a personal truth in my work. I couldn't be more vague in this answer.
For any aspiring creatives out there, what piece of advice would you give to them?
Make work. A lot of it. Show work to others. Learn from it. Talk about your work. Payments come and go. Interest in your work comes and goes. Clients come and go. However -> your portfolio never 'go'. Keep adding to it. Your portfolio is your true capital.
What’s on the horizon for Jordy van den Nieuwendijk?
I am dabbling in the moving image. Trying to add time-lines and story-lines to the coloured-lines. I'm trying to figure out how VR can bring a new dimension to my work. I miss my family and friends in Europe. It's a little lonely sometimes. I’m hoping to do more studio visits. Try to be social and leave the house instead of bench-watching 'The Secret Life of Us' with a hot water bottle. I have met a lot of kind and sweet people here in Melbourne so far! Besides maybe this one older lady on Brunswick Street who screamed 'Harry Potter' at me. I think she had a few tinnies.
Discover Jordy's work here