All things change and we change with them. This is the leading idea behind the collages for Zart by Esther Vreeland, aka Pochemuchka Design. Pochemuchka Design is best known for her collage art. Vreeland is not too fond of the label ‘artist’ but would rather be seen as a designer. Together with Zart she also started to produce what could be called integrated design concepts. Integrated design is a term borrowed from architecture referring to a collaborative designing method that requires multidisciplinary teamwork. From beginning to the end, all stakeholders are involved in the design process. Vreeland is a master in remixing all kind of elements into one total design. The product, formerly know as artwork, can be a large visual or a room. In the end, it is the juxtaposition of smaller design elements that tell a story, make up a collage.
Catchy Sketchy Style
Is there a Pochemuchka style? ”I do not have one way of working”, Vreeland says,”although I do have to admit that I often use simple cut and paste techniques. I take cut outs from drawings. Somehow that feels a bit mysterious because you do not know in advance what story will come out in the end. What remains to see after the cut out process is just one isolated part of the original image. If you assemble all pieces into one new work, it resembles a sketch. Vreeland reaches a sketchy effect or ‘look and feel’ if you want, by adding (hand) drawn elements to the collage”.
Vreeland’s collages work might best be seen as a remix of little stories. Like a DJ mixes records into new tunes, Vreeland mixes visuals. She singles out a story line, cuts it up and remixes it into a new form, a new scene. Being born and raised in Amsterdam Vreeland saw some big transformations. The process of change is one of growth and decay, of construction and deconstruction. Vreeland:”I was born in the Runstraat. One of the Nine Streets and have seen the city transform. When I used to live there, it was a working-class street. There were a grocery and a druggist and we had the milkman downstairs. Many people still used coals. Now the Runstraat is one of the Nine Streets. The grocery is is some posh beauty parlor. Everything has changed, of course. If you look at our constant changing world as a story, it becomes a tale of continuously constructing and deconstructing all kind of things. Many things happen all the time and these events leave their traces.”
Vreeland picks up traces everywhere. Elevation Montage is full of such traces. “Sometimes I peek through a window and I wonder what is happening inside” Vreeland starts to explain the origins of this work. “And so many things happen. Behind every door and window a story unfolds. There is a scene everywhere. A city is a place of coming and going of people. It has a history of many things happening. Now and in the past. I used to live I a house where someone hanged himself. One of my friends was scared to come and see me there because of what happened. I felt that was nonsense because good and bad things have happened everywhere all the time, for centuries”.
“Every window tells a story. I wanted to breathe life into all the little houses, so there would be a small face everywhere”, Vreeland continues. Since one can’t go around and take pictures of people in their homes, Vreeland just looks for pictures on the internet that somehow grab her attention. “Like this man’s letter” she says while she points at the small image in the top left corner of Elevation montage. “Who is that man? You can look at it and make up a story. This gives me a feeling of adventure and traveling without GPS. As if anything can happen. If you would place all the small images in another context, you will get a completely different story ”.
A Panorama for the Zuiderbad
To Vreeland collage is the art of remixing daily life. Because there is so much choice –take a look out of the window- it is difficult to limit oneself. It is not a secret Vreeland prefers to make commissioned work.“I like a clear starting point”, she tells. In the image below is a work specially made for the Zuiderbad, the swimming pool situated next to the Museumplein. In it you can see how images and important places like the Rijksmuseum and the fire brigade, images from the past and present relevant context collide into an enormous panorama of 60x 1.80.
Red bricks and tourists
“The only guiding principle for creating this panorama, was the client’s idea about what should be in the image. The Zuiderbad wanted a large visual of the front of the building. So that is where I started. In front of the building”. Vreeland worked together with illustrator Steve Dumayne. “I usually work with preliminary study. Steve had the idea to go to the Museum square and to take pictures of things that happen on the square and the general surrounding”, Vreeland says about the working process. “
The Zuiderbad lies in one of the most touristic areas of Amsterdam so we had to get some tourist in, that was inevitable. But the old gangster car happened to be there as well”. When Vreeland and Dumayne started with their mood board, the first thing that jumped to the eye was the colour red. “If you sit down in the area you will see that all buildings are built with the same type of red stones”, Vreeland continues. On the corner is the fire brigade with its red cars as well. The red bricks form the unifying factor in the panorama”. Historical context “In our first draft”, Vreeland says, “we added some traces of history and superheroes to stress the importance of the surrounding buildings. The building on the right used to be the Velox cycling school. This is where people used to learn how to cycle. Now it is called the Veiligheidsgebouw, the House for Safety and Security”. In our first sketch, I put superheroes behind the windows to reach a sort of vigilante effect. This idea was rejected, unfortunately. So I replaced the superheroes for figures from Rembrandt’s Nachtwacht and this way kept the spirit of the Veiligheidsgebouw and at the same time linked it to the Rijksmuseum.”
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through the contact form. See work by Pochemuchka design https://www.zart.nu/portfolio/esther-vreeland/