Rick Berkelmans aka. Hedof is an illustrator and printmaker living and working in Breda, the Netherlands, where he runs his one-man design studio.
He has a love for printing techniques and his work consists of a vibrant mix of strong shapes, weird characters and bold colours.
He raised his profile on an international level by doing a combination of commercial projects, exhibitions and clients, which among others include Anorak Magazine, Computer Arts Magazine, Heineken, Nickelodeon, Kangaroos, Sony Playstation, KLM Airlines, IKEA, Google, Red Bull, Casio G shock, Red Cross and Facebook.
Hedof was an artist at Trailerpark Amsterdam in 2015 and has done various illustrations for ArtRebels over the years.
Conversation with Hedof
Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I live and work in Breda, a small city in the south of the Netherlands. Kind of lived here in the south my whole life (grew up in a small village just outside of Breda, so all not very exciting hahaha.) Kind of regret not traveling and studying abroad, but on the other hand I am pretty happy with my house, girlfriend and 2 year old son here. Not too many distractions in such a boring town.
When did you become an artist and what was your first project?
Well I guess I always was a creative kid growing up. Always playing outside, building crazy things, playing with my food and stuff. When I grew older I got into skateboarding and later graffiti, so from there I kind of found my way into art school, studied illustration and completely sucked at it hahaha! I was just so distracted by all the fun things other than the courses. But a few months before graduation, I discovered screenprinting and fell in love with print making in general. This really sparked my interest in pursuing a serious creative career. I graduated and started doing a lot of self initiated projects, mainly producing a lot of cool screenprinted illustrations and from there small commissions started coming in. You know, gig posters, t-shirt designs, that type of stuff, which led to bigger things later.
Did you study art in school, if so where?
Yes, I went to art school, and "studied" illustration. But the courses where absolutely rubbish and I was the worst student ever. I just wasn't interested. So it was great being in a creative environment for a few years, and I learned a bit of conceptual thinking, but other than that, it could just as good have been any kind of other education. It was really uninspiring. Such a waste...
What inspires you? Any particular artists?
I know this answer is super lame but; Everything! I really like to push myself by picking the most boring thing in the room, draw it, flip it upside down, and go from there, let my brain do the work, draw, trace, redraw, turn around, erase, throw away and start again. It takes a while to train yourself this way but it is such a great feeling when you create something from within instead of scrolling down tumblers and Instagram feeds.
As for sources of inspiration, I always try to look for things that aren't too easy and obvious. I try to choose the road less traveled and this way I discover more interesting subjects, executions and results. I like to flip through really odd books about religion, supernatural, biology and classic arts. But also in my mothers lady magazines or the latest H&M catalog. Besides that, I also see a lot of references from my childhood: cartoons, toys, animals, nature skateboarding, DIY culture, mid century design, and a naked lady every once in a while
What are some of the ideas behind your work?
I always see my work as a mix of 75% decorative and %25 conceptual. The main thing for me it that it looks good. But I always start with a theme, an idea, a problem or at least a list of subjects I want to touch when I'm designing an illustration.. Like I mentioned earlier. I always look for subjects less obvious and a bit weird and off and execute this in a personal way that interests the viewer. I always try to produce high quality illustrations that are well executed illustrations but also nonchalant and fun. This is a hard balance to find but I think this is the main returning thing in my work.