Ellis Driessen

Ellis graduated from the Maastricht Institute of Arts in the course autonomous art in 2020.

We were especially fascinated with her work and it was always a pleasure peaking through the window into her studio space. Earlier this year we reached out to her and asked if she could give us a little Interview about her practice. Enjoy!

TUA: What do you create?

Ellis: I make many different kinds of work; spatial work, paintings and drawings. In addition, I write about, among other things; artistry, own observations and the vulnerability of humans.

TUA: What does your studio space look like?

Ellis: Due to the Corona situation I had to leave my studio at school quite abruptly. which meant I had to continue my final exams in an alternative place. However, I found a new studio pretty quickly. Now, I have a studio in Heerlen near Lima Ateliers, part of the independent art platform, Greylight Projects. This is my current workplace and will remain so for the time being. Originally, the building was an alternative school that has been empty for a few years. In total there are four studios rented out to artists from the region. There is a lot of space and light because of the large windows.

TUA: How do you work?

Ellis: I'm a morning person so I mostly work in the morning until about past noon.

At school, I was always one of the first in the building. I love peace and quietness, especially when I'm at work. I usually work long and intensively simultaneously on one or two works. I work with different materials on different carrier mediums, I deliberately switch, in order to prevent monotony and repetition. One of the most important things when making work is 'taking distance'. This was taught to me by my painting teacher, in the second year of my studies. I have a tendency to work too long and without taking distance.

For my visual work, but even more so for my writing, I use strolls as inspiration. I wander almost every day. It offers me distance and relaxation and at the same time, during these walks, I reflect on myself and my work.

TUA: What materials are you using regularly?

Ellis: My use of materials is very diverse. What I mainly use for paintings and drawings is acrylic and spray paint, pastel chalk and charcoal. For my spatial works, I use natural materials (branches, stones and earth) mixed with, among other things; processed textile, rope, plaster and pigment powder.

TUA: Are you studying and/or working at the moment?

Ellis: I just graduated from the Art Academy in Maastricht. Now I am in my studio almost daily. In addition to working in the studio, I am looking for a suitable part-time job that I can combine with my artistry.

TUA: What is the story you are trying to tell when you make art?

Ellis: I'm fascinated by the physical presence of humans and their relationship with the immediate environment. I challenge myself to visualize the interrelations between recurring themes like impermanence, vulnerability and the physical. Aesthetics play an important role in this. By transforming humanlike shapes and colours into images, I play a game of recognition and alienation at the same time, all within the same physical being.

TUA: You have a colour palette that is used often in your work, where do you think your inclination towards these colours came from?

Ellis: They are mainly shades of (human) skin in combination with red shades derived from blood. Later on, more natural colours like; brown, green, and shades of blue found their way into it. This is because nature and the environment have become more important within my artistry.

TUA: Do you feel that you are the only person who can truly understand your work?

Ellis: I believe that I am the only person who can truly feel/understand it exactly the way I do, but I don't see that as something negative. With every form of art, I think there should remain space for one's own interpretation. Someone can see or feel something completely different in or through my art, but this is a good thing, I think. Wherever my work touches people, my intention has succeeded.

TUA: What do you want your work to evoke in the viewer?

Ellis: Mainly the question 'what do I actually see?' In most of the images (especially my earlier work), there is a thin line between the lugubrious (*1 editors note) and the aesthetically visible. I have investigated this in the second and third year in a visual way. Through the colours that I use I also hope to evoke some recognition of one's own being and besides that in an aesthetic and open way to highlight vulnerability and impermanence in the image.

*1: Lugubrious is an adjective used to describe the state of melancholia. Wikipedia: (Melancholia... is a condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and sometimes hallucinations and delusions.)

TUA: What is your relationship with your work while you're in the process of creating it?

Ellis: Very intense. Once I'm working on a piece and I see potential in it, I can continuously work on it for hours. I'm rather meticulous and I prefer to depict things in exactly the same way as I've got them in my head. I also almost always take pictures when I finish a day of work in the studio. Later I look back at the photos and I'm already working in my head on what I could adjust the next day.

TUA: Once the work is finished, has that relationship with it changed?

Ellis: Yes, quite a bit. Once a piece is finished, I can take a distance from it. I definitely attach less value to it in comparison to while it is not finished yet.

I don't have a problem selling work, because I actually feel I have already distanced myself from it once I applied the last lines or brushstrokes.

TUA: Where can we find you? Do you have a website or any future projects you are looking forward to?

Ellis: Yes, I have a website ( and an Instagram account @el__sd.

I keep both up to date to give a nice overview of both my completed works and the works in process.

I hope to be able to do a Master's in a year's time. I have now caught my eye on a Master's degree: Fine Arts in Antwerp. In the meantime, I hope to be able to participate in projects and residencies in order to expand my visions and improve my skills.

Translated from Dutch into English using, edited by David Egert.