From childhood it was clear that creativity was in my DNA. At the age of four I was already making drawings that didn't fit my age. I was inseparable with my paper drawing pad and pencils which I took everywhere I went. When I was 15 years old, I discovered oil paint and linen canvases. At my parent’s house I was fortunate to have a studio at my disposal. When I wasn't painting, I could be found in the shed where I made sculptures out of wood or transformed old bicycles into strange looking vehicles. At the age of 18 I participated in several exhibitions with my paintings and drawings, but despite sufficient recognition, my perfectionism always stood in my way. By the time I was 20 I could never look at my own paintings because every little mistake in the smallest detail frustrated me so bad. I then decided to sell all my painting equipment and decided to never paint or draw again.
The years that followed were anything but creative. After serving in the military for 9 months, and then in a regular job as an electrical engineer making good money. I was affording a comfortable life and you would think everything had worked out just fine. But nothing was further from the truth. One day I suddenly realized that this lifestyle made me unhappy. I had to follow my heart because something inside of me, my creativity, screamed for attention and expression. In 1999 I decided to quit my job as an electrical engineer and took the plunge with all its insecurities.
A former friend, and DJ, was organizing Dance Parties and was looking for someone to decorate his parties in several extraordinary locations. I accepted his challenge, and after some beautifully decorated parties, other organizations discovered my creativity and offered me the same opportunity to decorate their parties. However, sometimes the locations were so big, and the time I had to decorate them was very limited. I had to come up with a more efficient way to do the job. Armed with an industrial sewing machine and airtight fabric, I sewed complex calculated patterns together to eventually create huge inflatable 3D objects which could be inflated by using a small fan.
Soon I became responsible for everything related to entertainment, and started booking artists such as dancers, drag queens, and all kinds of animators and performers. A director of a well-respected nightclub in the region was impressed by my work, and invited me to organize theme parties with entertainment and decorations on a monthly basis. This was a wonderful creative responsibility, but in the entertainment industry I sometimes missed a certain vibe, something magical, something new and refreshing, something that gives you goosebumps. So in 2003 I founded my own theatre agency named Theatre Vistazo to fulfill my desires.
I bought my first pair of stilts in the US as they were not available in Europe at that time. I wasn't yet sufficiently practiced in stilt walking, but luckily my first performance went well, and several bookings followed. I soon bought a second pair of stilts, and together with my girlfriend at the time, performed on a weekly basis in many various discotheques, dance parties and company parties throughout Europe. At one point I received a significant budget from a Dance Party organization for a major outdoor production and I accepted the challenge. I bought another 4 pairs of stilts and had to create many more costumes and mobile inflatable objects. Several new actors joined us who we taught to walk on stilts in just a few weeks. And boom! a real theatre collective was born. In the years that followed we performed with several stilt acts at all sorts of events.
And then…. there was fire.
I was always fascinated by artists who could perform with fire. It's just mysterious and magical at the same time. Especially if such performances take place in the darkness of an evening. That's how I discovered the fire arts of the New Zealand Māori Tribe called Poi (Fire Dance) and Siva Afi (Fire Knife). Together with some of the actors we mastered this art in just a few years by rehearsing on a weekly basis. I proudly dare to say that we have mastered this art at a very high level.
I was also intrigued by large street theatre shows, where hundreds of spectators gathered in a square to watch a show. In 2006 I came up with the idea to turn our fire acts into a spectacle. To realize such a spectacle, I wanted to build large burning metal vehicles that could drive through the spectators to create interactions and with unique costumes. I met a great costume designer who was willing to realize this passion together. To make the metal vehicles and the metal props I ended up at a metal scrapyard. I was allowed to temporarily set up my workshop on the condition that the premiere of the spectacle would take place on their premises. And then it happened. In 2008 the spectacle Magia Del Fuego (The Magic Fire) premiered on their scrapyard. This was the perfect location for a fire spectacle because of the unique backdrop of a gigantic mountain of metal scrap. After that premiere Magia Del Fuego performed for several years at various events.
During two years of producing Magia Del Fuego a close relationship developed between myself, the workers, and the owners of the scrapyard. I was invited to continue my work at their location after the premiere. By then, I had extensive experience working with metal, and since I was amongst the source I started experimenting with creating art from recycled metal scrap. In the beginning and still very basic, my signature style was clearly recognizable and could be classified as Steampunk Art. I developed a very distinct art form that sometimes led to conversations particularly with use of taxidermy in a project called The Alchemy Project. However, this controversial project had contributed to my fame, and some artworks from this project were sold all over the world. In a very short period, I had over 40,000 followers on social media. Furthermore, I specialized in working with a plasma cutter, which led to an ambassadorship of Hypertherm, the global market leader in Plasma Cutters.
And then fate struck, or so it seemed at the time. In 2016 I had a work-related accident where I got stuck between 400kg of metal plates in the back of my van. As a result of this accident, I ended up with a stable vertebral fracture. After a period of recovery, I could no longer perform my work as a full-time metal artist due to persistent physical discomfort in my spine. I discussed this regularly with a good friend and a respected tattoo artist, who suggested to teach me the profession as a tattoo artist in his studio. Fortunately, he had enough faith in my creativity, and I just had to learn the skills to draw on skin.
In January 2017 I started drawing again and so the circle was complete. My creative journey started with drawing as a small child. I was reunited with my paper drawing pad and pencils. In the tattoo studio, I learned the tattoo skills under supervision, and soon made my first small tattoos on customers. It turned out that tattooing suited me very well. Especially when you consider that as a creative person you always need to stay challenged, otherwise you will get bored. As a tattoo artist you're apparently never done learning.
During the conversations with some customers, it was regularly mentioned that they would never consider a skull tattoo because of the negative associations. At the beginning of 2020, during the first Global Corona Pandemic lockdown, and whilst stuck at home, I had plenty of time to change that perception. Meanwhile, the paper drawing pad and pencils were replaced by an iPad on which I created all my designs. I designed a few nice little sweet creatures with skulls that were way too big for their body's. These cute and innocent creatures became so popular with my customers that I soon had to design several more and more....and more. Those designs were so unique that it became my personal tattoo signature called SkullyTattoo.
So here we are in 2023. A tattoo artist, and to a lesser extent, an active metal artist. I also don't exclude the possibility that I will produce a new performance as a theatre producer in the future. But for now, this is how my creative journey has evolved. If you've read my entire journey so far, I thank you for your attention, and who knows what the future may bring…
My creative journey from 1999 until 2009.
Some last words for your consideration.
I believe everybody has the capability to live a life filled with creative freedom, joy, and true authenticity by expressing their creativity to the fullest potential. Whether you paint, sign, tattoo, act, design, sculpt, write, compose, bake, or construct…with a creative mind-set you can create the meaningful life you want.
As a professional artist I’ve been there, suffered it, and found solutions that really work. Because I think, and have experienced, it’s just a matter of believing that anything is possible when you put your mind and effort to it and seize opportunities as they cross your path.
Don’t let bureaucratic issues hold you back to fulfill your dream but challenge them and overcome these obstacles because it’s all part of the game. Stay focused and every small achievement is one step in the right direction to achieve your goals. Embrace your creative potential and developing a creative mind-set is the key to your own success.
Deal with criticism, rejection and other setbacks. Attract an audience and customers for your work and explore opportunities who can help you on your creative journey. Find alternative paths and encounter plenty of challenges along the way. Cut through the demands and distractions, and make creativity your number one priority. Use the internet, social media, your network and your creativity to attract those people who can make your dreams come true.