Alewijn Don A.K.A. Don Drawings is an Amsterdam based autodidact artist and conceptual designer. As a visual artist Don is always looking for strenght and tensions in forms, images and compositions, which he uses as vehicules of his expression. This way he creates abstract drawings and paintings that harbour contradictions and balances at the same time. He is always looking for the perfect combination of aesthetic, emotions and symbolism, being inspired by the relations between the perfect and the imperfect.
His neat and defined geometrical style allows him to simplify or minimalize the world around us. The emphasis lies on lines, forms and colours. Following his own intuition he endeavours to move his audience by using these basic and strong visual elements. In this process he challenges you to recollect your basic visual recognition.
How did you start making art? Why do you make art?
I used to draw a lot in high school but ended up on the other side of the brush, so to speak. After high school I started the studies History and Art History at the university. During this period I developed my own taste in historical art styles and I got inspired by the great avant-gardists of the early twentieth century. Especially the constructivist movements started to draw my attention and this is where my first inspiration came from. In the end I developed my own style from this starting point onwards, using a self-constructed and basic visual language.
Why I make art? Because of several reasons. First of all I have always been interested in visual aesthetics. And what is greater than creating your own beautiful world, in which you have all control? Secondly I feel that in this modern world a lot of visuals are too perfect nowadays, because we are able to construct art with computers, scanners and printers. I feel challenged to make neat and almost perfectly constructed art, but with ‘classical’ media: the pen and the brush. It harbours a contradiction, also because in handwork minor mistakes are inevitable. This is partly what makes my work exciting. And thirdly, but oh so importantly, I create artworks because I love to move people. I like to create works that get people excited and make them look differently at the world around them. Especially in my commissioned works I endeavour to play with emotions using my own visual language.
What are you known for?
My friends would probably say I am a nit-picker. Especially when it comes to language, I can be quite annoying sometimes correcting people haha. But on the other hand I think this quality certainly helped me get to where I am now in a way. In my visual language I am very precise as well. I try to perfect my visual story for every artwork I make.
What my artworks are mainly know for? I think it is mostly known for my strong visual representation of the things around us. I use geometric forms and vibrant colours to portray all kinds of concepts, from emotions to events in life. In my commissioned works I really stand out in a visual representation of the clients wishes.
What inspires you? What inspired this piece/idea?
Visual inspiration is mostly in the everyday things around me or as mentioned earlier in great artworks by my heroes of the early modern art movements. Mostly I try to cheat on life by simplifying things as far as possible, in that way simple objects and colour schemes also inspire me greatly.
When it comes to the business side of my art company, the ‘artrepreneurship’, I find great strength with my girlfriend Marlies. She really helps me reach for higher goals by supporting me and by holding a mirror up to me from time to time. I am really grateful for her loving support. And I must mention my other two muses as well, Bobby and the other Don, our dog and cat. With them I talk about the direction my art is heading, they offer me great advice or just a simple nod.😉
What item here (in your atelier/workspace) would you be lost without?
My ruler and compass are the most important things in my tool box. The visual element of the pre-drawing is the most important part of my creative process. During this stage the story or concept meets the visual representation for the first time. The first drawing is formed using these two items and the colours simultaneously present themselves in my mind without physically being there yet. When this phase is over and the pre-drawing is finished, I know which direction the artwork is heading. Without these tools I couldn’t make the pre-drawing and so there would be nothing to create.
Is there an artwork here you are most proud of?
Well there is one of my ‘Swift Series’ I am proud of, because it was a great hit on national television. But to be fair, I only present the works to the outside world of which I am really proud. So I am quite happy with all the finished works actually. Mostly my favourite artwork is my current project, because I keep on developing from work to work. Right now I am making a rather great diptych that is turning out to be a real stunner, if I may be modest 😉
What’s your favorite part of the process?
In the end I think presenting my work to the client is the most satisfying part of the process. I get to see a real reaction to my work and I can release it now. I always keep finished works in my living room for a couple of weeks, to really enjoy its aura for a while. After selling it, I can finally release this aura and I am always satisfied it has finally found a new home.
If you weren’t in your profession, what would you do?
When I am not drawing or painting I am a co-worker of a large auctioneer in antiquarian books and fine arts in Haarlem, Bubb Kuyper Auctions. So I am always working with art!
Any habits before/while/after making art?
I clean my working space and wash my hands once every 10 minutes. I am like a professional chef that way. I just never make a mess. I don’t understand why many artists have paint all over the place. Mostly I wear my everyday cloths, no special jumpsuit or old t-shirts. Maybe that is the OCD’ish side of me…
Can you elaborate on the designs you made for Collect?
Yes I feel that these designs are applied arts in a way: very summerlike, fresh, vibrant and exciting. Exactly what you need a t-shirt to be with the upcoming festival season!
Anything else you’d like to mention (about yourself) that we didn’t ask?
Maybe fun to mention some of the other projects I am working on at the moment. I’m going to make some fresh artworks on customized hats for my friends of Old Habits Die hard. I am also working on making some prints and posters of my works. Furthermore I am working on a few large pieces for private customers, to portray their lovely current home situations. Also one of my works was presented in a styling job on national television recently, that was quite exciting too! And many other projects are going on at the moment. I started this art business by the end of last year and already I find myself buried in great opportunities and assignments. I count myself blessed!
What is your artistic outlook on life?
Keep on selling freakin’ large pieces to people who yearn for aesthetic inspiration and visual guidance in their lives, but just as important: in their interiors.