What is it that you like about screen printing?
Esther: The technique appeals to me because it provides a way to divide your image into different layers. Layer by layer you can manipulate and add colors. My work is rather flat, screen printing gives it more dimensions.
Arne: In high school, I studied printing techniques. Afterwards I went to KASK to study printing, and I learned everything there, except for screen printing. Of course, my first prints failed, but they were all the more beautiful. I especially like reproducing photos with screen printing.
Senne: It’s a very traditional technique, more like a craft. The colors are brighter, and the mistakes that slip in are very interesting. You don’t get that result when you go to a print shop.
Esther and Arne, you both create your own visual artwork, but you also have a business together: webshop Puma Press. Is it difficult to combine those two?
Esther: The struggle is real, that’s for sure. We both want to be artistically engaged with our personal work and really dig into that. But sometimes we also want to do something more light-hearted, which works better in the webshop. The diversity makes it fun, although it’s not always easy to find the perfect balance.
Arne: Sometimes you’re worried your artwork is too commercial, and other times you’re worried your sweater design won’t sell.
Senne, do you share this feeling?
Senne: I consciously reject the distinction between commercial work and fine art. I studied Illustration, and my teachers always considered my work to be more fine art. But I didn’t agree, because I was also making prints with the idea of selling them. In my opinion, it’s possible to put your fine art on a sweater, as well as art can sometimes be made to sell. I’m trying to combine these two perceptions.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of your artwork?
Senne: In the end, it very often comes down to making money with your work. Although, challenging and continuing to amaze yourself is also important, in order to avoid working in a system in which you reproduce yourself.
Arne: You’re always on top of your game, and surrendering to self-reflection. You also compare yourself with others, for example when you visit a museum.
Senne: And there’s the struggle again. If you’re challenging yourself all the time, you’re less commercially interesting. In a commercial assignment for example, customers expect you to operate in line with your previous work. So you have to make more concessions. That’s why it’s interesting and fun for us to expand those borders during our residency at KOP.
What are you actually up to, at KOP?
Esther: Senne had the idea to use old school slides for screen printing, and project them afterwards. We happen to have three slide-carousels with 80 pictures each, so we’ll go a long way with that. In addition we will also show new and old artwork.
Have you ever worked with other artists in the past?
Senne: Yes, and it has always been a great experience. You challenge each other and you have to make compromises, which can be limiting sometimes. But you’re always looking for certain ways to cope with them. Furthermore, you don’t have to invent or do everything yourself; you have a shared curatorship. I always find it a good exercise.
What appeals to you in each other’s work?
Arne: The illustrations of Senne seem to be very much off the cuff. That’s something I admire and would like to be able to do myself.
Esther: Yes, and there is something playful and humoristic about his work. This is something I also want to generate. I want the audience to feel my joy in the process of creating, but also that I’m critical.
What are you critical about?
Esther: I’m concerned with how people show themselves, through images, to the world. The way people present themselves on Instagram or in advertising and media, it’s always the same. I find this very fascinating.
Arne: Most of my work is about reproducing images. First I leaf through old encyclopaedia. In my opinion, these books capture the world as it is at that moment. Afterwards I like to place the image next to my reproduction, and therefore see the change.
Senne: Very often I look into what is happening in the world right now. From a cartoonish point of view, I translate these events in my drawings. It gets very interesting when you compare these cartoons with something that is timeless. Then you understand how absurd, hunted or short-sighted current events can actually be.