A quick word with Niels Shoe Meulman

Niels Shoe Meulman – in town for the first Designers Speak event of the year tonight – talks art, design and integrity.

When did you arrive in NZ?
We arrived on Saturday and we’re planning to stay for one week.

How are you finding it?
It’s beautiful, we’ve already made lots of plans including a visit to Waiheke, and I need a break after all the painting I’ve been doing recently.

Do you have any local favourites, artistically speaking?
Max Gimblett, who has gained international recognition for his work.

How has your design background influenced your art?
Art and design aren’t very different from one another. As a designer you have a client who you communicate with, in order to create what they want. As an artist you create what you want. I’m my own client as an artist; I think less now about what the public want to see and more about what I want to see.

What was the catalyst for making the transition?
I’ve always been an artist, ever since painting on the streets of Amsterdam as a teenager. As I got older I focused more on graphic design. It was around my 40th birthday I decided to go back to my other passion, calligraphy. I did a couple of things, they looked great and I went on from there.

What do you consider the core differences between design and art?
The client would be the main difference. There are a lot of designers who are artists, when you are a designer you must compromise and give the client what they want. When you are an artist you stay true to yourself and what you want.

Talking about Calligraffiti: Are you more inclined towards typography or graffiti?
I can’t say, they’re both very dear to me. It would be like choosing a favourite child.

How would your describe your style or philosophy?
It’s abstract expressionism with a calligraphic origin.

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