Johan Potma


Track # 10) Francebit

Music from Fernando Poo and Thomas


Dutch artist Johan Potma: between marketing and idealism.

Illustrating a different world.
(Interview featured in 'Goon' magazine)

I have always sympathised with the ugly and odd.
Maybe this is some sort of rebellion against the ideal beauty forced upon us through the media.

Looking at the images and illustration of Johan Potma one notices a strong connection between youth culture and art. The 33 year old Dutchman, who has been living in Berlin for 5 years, was introduced to painting and drawing through skateboarding and the visual world strongly connected to this scene.

His work is very much based around characters. Strange but endearing fantasy creatures with human and animalistic features This subject focus immediately leads one to consider the artist primarily as a character designer. Johan Potma, however, wont be labelled that easily.

First and foremost, I'm an illustrator. My work is character-based, but the character is placed in visual context through which the concept or story is communicated. I think it is much like making music - you start with a small melody and keep building on it until it is relatively finished.

Potma studied advertising as well as illustration at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen, Holland. Until now, this largely shaped his career. Among his clients are numerous magazines and publishers worldwide and several advertising and marketing agencies. He is also a member of the Dutch illustration collective, S.M.A.C., with whom he published several underground books to promote his own work, as well as to create a platform for unknown illustration talent.

Having the talent to create images is just the beginning; says Potma. We published the books with our own money and sold them at comic fairs. It was during that time that we realised an artist has to do a lot of work to be seen.

A big part of his income is generated by illustration work. More specifically, illustration inspired by concepts - visual solutions communicated to a certain target group. It's important to communicate the idea through the visual elements used in the image. I try to convey the crux of the message via visual emphasis. Part of the reason I work a lot with characters lies in the fact that people can identify with them. A lot of the other elements have a supporting role in communicating the message, but not always. Often I'll use something just because it looks nice - a flower motif, for instance.

Potma feels that the longer he works on an image the more it loses its spontaneity and power of visual communication. This belief and the inspiration from comics and animation explain the collage-like and everyday irony in his work. Idealism is also a strong motivator for Potma. Every Sunday he is found at the Boxhagener Platz flea market selling his artwork together with the insanely talented mateo.

The one thing he wants to communicate more than anything else. One should never forget to have some fun.



- all content ©2008 - JopRec - MKZWO - BlueCraneMedia - original artists -