The Amsterdam based visual designer Tjitske Oosterholt has been working for a wide range of clients in the electronic underground music industry. Her beautiful mystical artworks mixing analog and digital techniques caught my eyes for a while now.
Her mysterious abstract works made me curious, so I got in touch with her to hear more about the stories behind her work and how life has been while the music industry has been on hold during these strange times.
You have an intriguing selection of clients. How did you become a visual artist for the underground music industry?
I’m gonna have to give credit to social media here I think haha, or just synergy or fate. All the people I’ve worked with I didn’t know before, but they found me somehow and felt there was a great connection between either their music or their vision and my work, and vice versa. When I was younger I used to make a lot more music than I made art, and my work method feels closely connected to the way musicians work, so in that sense, it just feels very logical that the music industry is where my visual work ended up as well.
As the music industry has been put on hold I was wondering if this has also affected or influenced your work?
Some things got delayed, yes, but I definitely haven’t been sitting still. Together with the team from ISOTOOP (one of the music platforms I have been working with a lot since last year) we’ve started an experience design studio, for which I’ve mostly been responsible for the whole identity. It’s good to see how such a weird period can also be a time to start something new! The past few months have also been for reflecting, as for many probably, and I feel it’s time to make some changes in the way I work. I’ve been wanting to work less digital for a while now, and get back to the physical aspect of creating things. I’ve just moved into my new studio and feel like I’m finally ready to dive into this new direction.
As a visual artist would you describe yourself as a visual storyteller?
Not really, I think. I actually try to stay away from figurative references as much as possible. To me, my work is an interaction between me and the material and a very intuitive process. I do not want to think beforehand about what the end result should be. So in that sense, it doesn’t feel like I’m telling a story, because to me that implies that I would know which direction I am going to. I do set a stage, or create a vibe, that can add to a certain idea or feeling – especially when it comes together with music. Although perhaps in a way that is visual storytelling, just not a story that can be translated to anything linguistic – it’s more a story that only exists in matter, and is a thing on its own.
Portrait by Keng Pereira
Can you tell a little about the stories that you create merging analog and digital techniques?
It’s all about trying to push all fields to their limits, trying to recreate or mimic natural processes and to add things to it that make them feel unreal, confusing the viewer, and hopefully make them look over and over again. I always start out with analog materials, which I then digitally manipulate, sometimes a lot, sometimes only very little. It’s a tribute to nature and the question about our role in altering it. I think it’s important we become more aware of our position towards the natural world, as being part of it rather than living alongside it.
Your work has a very significant style although your color palette is quite diverse. What would you describe as your signature style?
I find this very funny because this is something I’ve heard since the beginning of art school, but it’s definitely not something I intentionally do. I think the most significant thing about my work is that I always want to develop myself and work with techniques, colors, or materials that I don’t know yet. To me, it’s important to keep changing and experimenting, on the one hand, because I don’t want to be an artist that’s known for just one certain type of thing they do, but mostly because in this way I can keep myself intrigued. It’s more about the mentality than the actual recurring technique that makes it a signature. The fact that it’s me making it will always be clearly present, I guess that’s something I can not do haha.
Can you tell a little more about the process of developing your own style?
Having studied graphic design, which is actually quite a concept based field, I see the development of my work as kind of a counter-reaction to that. As I said, I like this space where I don’t know what’s going to happen, which makes me more aware of what’s happening right in front of me, and able to react to the used materials. This also means a lot of the things happening I didn’t foresee, and I don’t always feel comfortable taking credit for my creations. As I always like to say, an artist is not a mastermind, just someone who’s endlessly curious. In the development of my work, I think it’s important to take this humble position. Even though I know I’m the one making the work, I still feel like I’m continuously learning from the work.
Are there any collaborations that you would like to pursue in the future and with whom would that be?
I’m very excited about this project I’ve done with fashion label Pinkorangeclub for their SS21 collection. They want to use clothing as a way to showcase art in a more accessible way. I’d love to develop collaborations with fashion brands and textile more in the future. I’ve already been looking at possibilities to start making my own woven artworks. With my work, I always try to find a connection to daily life, to something that’s close to us as human beings, which made my interest in useable pieces of art grow. I also have been taking some ceramics courses which I absolutely love, and would like to see what I can do with glazes as well. I’d be interested to discover how my experimental and ever-changing work method could connect to these types of practices. To find a way to connect production processes with materials that have their own life, so to say.
Do you have any projects you are working on or planning for 2021, that you would like to share with us?
I’m not much of a planner, to be honest, I like to take things as they come. So other than loads of dreams there’s nothing, in particular, I can tell you about, unfortunately!
I would like to thank you for taking the time to take us into your creative world and thoughts. As the link to music is so strong could you name a fitting soundtrack that portrays the last couple of months for you?
I’d have to say ‘Phase In‘ by Winterdagen (love his name by the way). He contacted me earlier this year for the cover of his newest EP and I instantly loved his music. There’s so much to hear that I immediately can ’see’, and it has so many layers ranging from very calm and warm to cringy and rusty that the artwork just came very naturally. His music also feels like a combination of slowing down and anticipation at the same time, which feels very suitable to the last couple of months. Ambient, in general, is just great music to work to by the way, it can zone me out completely and for some reason, the work made while listening to it always has a certain pure quality to it.