Laurens de Nil

Updated: Apr 20

TUA: Where and how did you grow up; did this affect your ability to connect to and enter the art world?

Laurens: I started out in Oudegem, which is a small town in Dendermonde, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

I and my two younger sisters grew up in my father’s bakery; my mother and he had to work hard all the time.

This meant that I was spending a lot of time with my grandparents; I’ve always felt a deep connection to them because of this.

From a very young age, my grandfather took me hunting, whilst my aunt competed with him to take me to church instead. I often reflect on how those things thematically return in my artwork.

My grandmother on my father’s side introduced me to painting. She was the most amazing and caring person I’ve ever met and if I ever felt any stability growing up it was with her. I sign my artwork the same way she did; using another colour to add highlights to my signature.

When I was 7 years old my parents got divorced and my sisters and I swung back and forth between neighbouring towns.

It never felt right to leave the bakery.

I never got along with my stepfather.

In total, we moved to 5 ‘new homes’ while growing up.

The word ‘home’ lost its connection to the word ‘house’ for me.

"Home is just where I paint now."

Even though my parents surely are creative in their own way, they lifted little to no cultural baggage onto me themselves.

My family allowed me to go to after school art class at KASK Dendermonde. But in their minds, art would never be more than a hobby. So nothing was really pushed or cultivated. There was no way they would have supported me going to art school or take up art for higher education.

But when I was 16, at the height of my teenage angst, frustration and instability I took up the brushes again and it became a great road to personal empowerment and a constructive way to deal with all my anger and frustrations.

At that age, I had a lot

I still have.

I wouldn´t say I that I was put on a fast lane to being an artist, but my situation growing up did give me the fuel to be as productive a painter as I am today.

TUA: Would you say your art school was oppressive?

Laurens: I never in any way felt that learning things in art school was limiting or oppressing.

The only thing that’s limiting is ignorance.

TUA: What would you tell your younger self before entering art school?

Laurens: I would tell my younger self to try to convince my parents way harder to get a real education in the arts. It's a fun mental exercise but I don’t want to live in the past too much.

I’d rather focus on what I can learn, or who I can meet today.

TUA: How old were you when you started higher education?

Laurens: I was still 17 when I started studying to be an art teacher. Looking back I was too young to do either: Teaching or Art.

It didn’t work out but I did pick up some more artistic skills along the way.

After that, I studied Social/Cultural Work. It definitely made me a better person to start with. Besides that, the social, psychological and philosophical insights I gained definitely make returning appearances in the subjects of my artwork.

And I can boast: I have met some amazing, kind and artistic people there.

Because of my studies I have worked at a homeless shelter, a prison and now a library. Great places to draw inspiration from; each in their own way.

TUA: Do you think it is an artists responsibility to write about their work; why? -Do you think anyone, especially curators and art critiques should write about Artists or their work; why?

Laurens: Although there is a lot of thought behind my work, I seldom write about it.

I’m a painter, so I’d rather paint.

To be a good writer is another skill entirely and I am very grateful to the people who go for those careers in the art world. We need them badly. Same goes for galleries, technicians and people with great organizational gifts. Everybody plays their part.

TUA: Where would you ideally see your artwork exposed? -Is being an artist a full-time profession for you? -At this point, could you live off only your art? -Do you think you will ever be able to live off of only your art?

Laurens: The next step for me would be to connect with a gallery that’s a good fit, someone to grow with.

TUA: Maybe that could be us, we are not there yet but our goal is to establish an online as well as later physical gallery ;)

Laurens: I’m interested. :)

TUA: Is there a project or artwork you have in mind but fear you will never execute because life is too short or money too little? -Do you want to explain it?

Laurens: I always wanted to make an animation movie with my paintings. I thought I would never have the time. But now the pandemic came and I actually got time to do some tests. You can find the result on my Instagram Page “De Vlucht”. So never say never.

TUA: I would like to connect you with my friend Patrick Herrig from Berlin, he is a great painter and illustrator. He experiments for a while already with animation. Maybe you guys can share some tips and tricks. Find him on Instagram: @Herrig

TUA: Is there a difference between art and design; what is it?

Laurens: Art needs no utility, design does.

Find Laurens on Instagram and his Website: