Ronald, have you always wanted to be an artist?
That’s a good question. I went to the art academy, and I asked myself: “Can I make a living out of this?” With that commercial outlook I initially started working as a graphic designer, but always had a wish to create something of my own that I could turn into a business. I explored furniture, accessories, clothing… It’s funny in hindsight because while I was busy exploring opportunities, I painted, but it never occurred to me I could turn that into a profitable business. After a while, I recognized that it could work, and although some would say I was crazy, I decided to sell my art. But although I create art all day, I don’t see myself as an artist, but more as art entrepreneur.
You have a background in graphic design, how does this influence your work?
Graphic design plays an important role in my work. I like to experiment with shapes and typographic form. Take for example my pop art portraits: The way the lines alter how we experience the face is interesting to me. I want people to experience the image as a whole, but also the interaction of colours, shapes and portrait.
Due to my background in graphic design, I know what colours work well with each other, and what mood or energy they evoke. I have specific ideas about the use of light and dark in my work. And bright neon colours (that I used a lot as a graphic designer) are often part of the colour palette.
You specialise in abstract and modern paintings, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?
I like to work abstract and modern because it gives me a lot of freedom to experiment with form and colour. One of my previous jobs was as an interior designer and salesman for a furniture store. In this job, I was constantly combining colours and shapes for all different kinds of people with all different kinds of taste. What I learned as an interior designer is that you should not look at one item but keep the complete picture in mind. I felt an artwork should be part of this whole. I think the biggest challenge for me as an artist is creating an artwork with minimal image but with a maximum of possibilities.
How would you describe your creative process?
As an artist, I think it’s important to have your signature style. Although there is a lot of freedom in creating abstract & modern, I create my art according to a set of rules, they give me guidance in what I want to make. Ideas for art come to me throughout the day. Ideas grow, and some I will work out in my mind. And since I have done so much already, there are many paths I can follow to make new things, based on previous work.
Tell us a bit more about your ‘Panels’ series’
The Panels series holds a special place in my collection. It is inspired on a large wooden table I used to work on in my old studio. The table was covered in paint, and a customer one day remarked that it was an artwork in its own right. That triggered me, and I wanted to recreate the feeling of the table on canvas. With the varying colours and textures, it turns out to be an endless source of inspiration.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I think the Panels series proves that inspiration is everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open. Also, the years I spent as a graphic designer is a huge source of inspiration for me.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Being an artist is a job for me, and that means I create art every day. I like to make an early start and work on a tight schedule. It is often a schedule that is impossible to meet though, and if I get half of it done, I am happy. Since I sell most of my work online, in the mornings I usually am behind my computer. Then, after a few hours of painting, I schedule the time to try out new things, new techniques, styles.. This will sometimes turn out fruitful; my latest ‘Islands’ and ‘High Rise’ series is the result of these ‘experiments’. But, of course, experiments don’t always work. I think it’s important you are not too hard on yourself when something doesn’t work, and just start over.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
While I have been influenced by many people, most of them come from a different style and work. Off course I admire artists like Mark Rothko & Gerhard Richter but I’m probably more inspired by people like Stanley Kubrick & Pablo Picasso, who try to reinvent themselves over and over again.
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
Yes, I always listen to music when I paint. It depends a bit on the time of day, I like to listen to the radio in the morning and switch to my own playlists in the afternoon. I have these favourite genres that I keep on coming back to (80s/90s, alternative music) and my playlist switches depending on the band or singer I just (re)discovered. Currently, I listen a lot to Cigarettes after Sex, Lonely the Brave, Slowdive. But just yesterday I rediscovered the iconic album ‘this is Hardcore’ by Pulp. That’s the fun of working alone, you can listen to whatever you want.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
It depends on what kind of artist you strive to be. For me, it’s important to create something that a broad audience wants to own. Therefore my paintings are reasonably priced, and the purchase process is transparent. I started small and worked my way up. I often see artists offering their work for a lot of money, but haven’t made a name for themselves yet. I think it all starts with a good name and reputation. Knowing how to tell your story and be able to engage people.
If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be and why?
Certainly Stanley Kubrick, I have so many questions to ask him. In fact, I think I will need all night for this, so those other guests would have to wait until another time 🙂
What does the future look like for you?
I have no idea what the future will bring but I’m sure I will continue creating art in all different ways. The problem is, I have so many ideas and so little time… certainly in the next few months when there will be a little artist coming along 🙂 (we are having a baby in May!)
View Ronald Hunter’s full gallery here.