Chris Versteeg (Project C)
Chris Versteeg is a Rotterdam based designer, illustrator and painter. His studio, Projekt C, was founded in 2003 as a company for clean and simple graphic design but grew into so much more. In 2017, he poured the unique Arttenders workflow into a good-looking infographic. That’s where the Tyrannosaurus Faye was born that later turned into a fashionable pin.
We talked with Chris about his career, inspirations and dream projects.
Can you tell us more about how you got to Arttenders/We Serve Art?
I had heard about Arttenders and some of the projects Faye and Siobhan had done, so one day I sent them a message, proposing to have a cup of coffee together. We were close to neighbors and already knew each other by sight. Rotterdam actually is a small village and used to be very unattractive; there used to be few options to go out, so people with the same interests ran into each other quite quickly.
When we met up for coffee, I took a present with me: a print of one of my works with a pink background. We clicked immediately. Both Arttenders and I want to make nice artworks, not too pretentious, but fun. We simply have the same work attitude.
The Tyrannosaurus Faye is funny, stands out and breaks the ice between Arttenders and their potential clients.
How did the Tyrannosaurus Faye Pin come along?
Not long after our first encounter, Faye and Siobhan asked me to make an infographic about Arttenders workflow, which was a nice challenge. Infographics are usually rather dry pieces of information but in this case, I got the chance to make it a lot more playful. And the color pink was a requirement of course.
That's how the t-rex came about as a means to depict the managing and surveilling role of Arttenders in their collaboration with visual artists. A role that commits Faye and Siobhan to act as stern but just generals because otherwise, the work wouldn’t get done. Artists are really the kind of people that you have to brutally remind of their deadlines. A bit of carnivorous energy is needed for some people (laughs). Just someone who keeps an eye on everything.
The Tyrannosaurus Faye is funny, stands out and breaks the ice between Arttenders and their potential clients. It's an anomalous image that triggers the conversation. I was quite surprised when Faye let me know that they wanted to make a pin out of it. I really like the result!
The Tyrannosaurus Faye pin, in this picture used as a pendant.
How did you turn out to be a visual artist?
I’m an artist by accidence, one could say. It’s a hobby that got out of hand. I used to do rather simple graphics stuff only: corporate identities, magazines, books and all that kind of sleek design. When the TU Delft asked me to design infographics, I have taught myself through online examples. It's no more than visually rearranging deadly boring data and making it readable, but I kind of liked it.
Even though I had been doing graffiti since high school, I didn’t really see myself as an artist. That was until the moment one client asked me to draw little puppets. The client was happy with the result and me too, and I loved adding more humor to my work. That’s where I started developing my own style as an illustrator, and that’s what I’m doing for fifty percent of the time now.
In your artistic work, where do you get your inspiration? Who are your big examples?
That's shifting all the time, to be honest. I don’t have one big hero in art. One of the first artists I loved, must have been Escher. As a kid going to art school, actually, you rather think of the Old Masters as rubbish, while today I highly appreciate their skills.
For me, inspiration comes from everyday life. It depends on what crosses my path. A car with a nice color or shape can inspire me, but a simple bug can just as well do that, or super ugly city structures that turn into something beautiful by looking at them a bit differently. It all depends on the way you look at, sometimes strange, things. It’s about being stubborn and unique in your way of looking at your surroundings, and let your own imagination blend with what you see.
Een Kilo Bananen.
You also started the graffiti-magazine SAM, why is that?
I’ve been designing books and magazines for twenty years now, the vast majority being not very spectacular in terms of content or design. In order to let my creativity run wild at times that I was a bit frustrated about the restrictions attached to assignments that paid the bills, I decided to start a magazine myself. I could simply make a magazine that was about a passion of mine, poured into a form the way I wanted it to be.
I found a distributor and spread the word online when the first edition was launched in 2014. Now we're already at number twenty. I spend a lot of my spare time on it. As my own customer and critic, I want it to be perfect. It has taught me to look strictly and think efficiently, and there is room for experiment. It most certainly has made me better in everything that I do.
What is the project of your dreams?
I already did a lot of things that were beyond my expectations. I once had the idea of designing beer packaging and labels. I started collaborating with ROTT. Brouwers and now I never run out of beer. That’s a nice side effect.
I designed a pair of shoes and eight skateboards for Vans, did t-shirts for Rotterdam restaurant Rauwdouwer and clothing for a small Austrian company as well. I like getting to know a company or brand and to give shape to this information in 3D designs. It’s also pleasant to know that people are walking around, wearing your designs. Spreading the word, so to say.
Next to that, I was happy to do some huge scale work for The Flying Dutch, a dance festival in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven. In 2018, I designed three stages, referring to Dutch culture, using a giant windmill as eye-catcher.
The Flying Dutch is not the type of event I would normally attend, but it’s nice to see your artwork printed this big. That’s why I put a lot of time and energy in it, I didn’t want to make any mistakes, as the huge scale would only enlarge them. You want to avoid that at all times.
I love all the work I do, but big commissions like that are the icing on the cake.
Beer labels for ROTT. Brouwers.
Big Blue, Chris Versteeg at work for Vans.