Vincent Bakkum

What inspires you?

I'm in love with the "object" woman, her graphic qualities, I fall for her outlines, her bone structure, the shadows under nose and lips, the knuckles of long slender fingers, the lightfall on her calves, pitch-black, cheek-brushing eyelashes. The person behind the "object" leaves me uninspired. In real life, I love women for what they stand for, but in depicting them on canvas they are reduced to colourful graphic images only. The beauty of a woman to me is closely connected with the fruit, dead fish and stuffed birds I also enjoy painting—death and decay is another undeniable source of inspiration. Beauty doomed to rot. Colours bound to fade away. Something that conforms to the Dutch tradition of still-life painting, I guess. A ripe and blossoming apple is already decaying. Although there's no thin line between flourishing and decaying, I still try to catch that moment. I'm desperately trying to save what there is left to save. Since death is also a source of inspiration for religion, and I'm stuck with Roman Catholic roots and a coquettish interest in the symbolic circus, I once in a while like to enrich my paintings with these symbols. Two more sources of inspiration are the hidden sensuality and thick outlines of the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha and the strong contrasts of the gentle black-and-white photography of the sixties. One could almost call my art a hybrid child of both art forms and periods.

Are you interested in fashion?

Fashion as an art form, as a way of enhancing female beauty, is followed by me. But I'm more interested in the end product than the mere garment or accessory itself. It is the collaboration of stylists, make-up artists, photographers, illustrators, models, etc,, that can make fashion exciting and interesting.

Describe your work.

Colourful graphic images of the female, footwear, fish, fowl, fruit and the feast of life, David Bailey's and Alphonse Mucha's delirious baby.

Which media and techniques do you use? Acrylic on canvas or plywood. Nothing more, nothing less.

What, for you, makes a successful fashion illustration?

The lines have to feel good. There are many ways of drawing a shoulderline, the fitting of a skirt, or the necklace over a collarbone, but there are only a couple that feel, and therefore are, good. The brush, the stroke, the paint have to do the talking. A fashion illustration is the depiction of a mere split second that you must experience in the illustration.

What artistic training have you undertaken?

I haven't got any decent schooling. It has been a lonely search for beauty in my studio without any authorized guidance, I trust my instincts and my sense of beauty. People like Gruau and Mucha and Warhol have been my unpaid tutors. I did modelling for about 15 years and gathered a lot of inspiration by being part of the scene and going through the magazines.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student, what would it be?

Stay true to yourself. Steal as much as you like from your artistic idols. In the long run you will build up your own style anyway. You have to start with what history has left you with. Just a starting point for a long and, hopefully, fulfilling journey.

Describe yourself and your greatest achievement. Beauty is my goal, laziness my motor. Man, if I could be a bit harder on myself! I believe the invitation to be interviewed for this book is one of my greatest achievements. Still a student myself, I'm all of a sudden giving advice to other students. Eternal students we are ...

Vincent Bakkum Paintings

HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY FASHION ILLUSTRATION â–  -

Contemporary Fashion Illustration
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