Hi! Could you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi! I’m Maartje, I’m 21 and live in Utrecht. I think you can call me a graphic designer even though
I still don’t know what that means. Through my work I try to make the world a nicer place.
So Maartje, how is the whole ‘graduation experience’ doing it
It’s less stressful than expected! I haven’t even done an allnighter yet and only had the occasional ‘oh my god, what will i do with my future!’–panic attack. It’s fun. And I really like the free printer in our own classroom. Also the plant.
Would you tell us about your research project?
I’ve researched the impacts that our society would suffer if we’d go from being a welfare state to
a participation society, as our current government would like. As a response to the things that would deteriorate, I’ve come up with inventions. They’re products that help people participate in society, Dutch citizens can build them themselves with the manuals I produced. The collection of inventions is shown on a website* and will keep growing with suggestion that people can submit themselves. During the graduation expo I’ll show all the products that have been invented till then.
What were some important influences for the creation of your project the way it’s constructed currently?
I think ArtEZ itself was a big influence. I have never really found my way in graphic design… aaand… the school has shown me that as well. I’m not just that into typography and ‘contemporary design culture’. I’d decided I wanted to make something fun and I didn’t think school was fun last year, so I took a big leap and made my most non–graphic design project ever and that really worked. It’s what I want to do. My internship** has been another big influence, over there I learned how to make art projects real and get the public to participate in them.
** Circus Engelbregt
Does your graduation, to you, feel as like it’s your ‘Mona Lisa’ of work so far?
Nope, very much not the Mona Lisa in terms of aesthetics. It is my most real and accesible work so far though, and since that’s what I aspire I guess you could say it feels like my best project.
Ok, well let’s go to another topic. Could you briefly inform us on the subject of your thesis?
I could! My thesis is about aesthetics in grapheme synesthesia–visualisation, which probably makes most people none the wiser. Grapheme–synesthesia is a condition which I have that makes people read in colour: all digits are connected to a specific colour in the mind of a synesthete. For example, in my mind I see the letter A as a forest green, and the number 3 as orange.
This has helped me a lot with learning languages and could help people that have trouble with reading and learning languages, because it adds another factor to help remember words. People have tried to visualise this experience in both science and art for ages, but it’s never exactly right. In my thesis I look for a way to visualise this form of synesthesia on the border of art and science. The thesis is a source book for typographers who wish to make a coloured typeface that can visualise synesthesia and in that way help people with readingproblems.
So yeah, it has absolutely nothing to do with my research project.
Has your thesis had a certain influence on deciding on the research assignment?if yes, in what way?
It hasn’t had any influence. I briefly thought about making a synesthesia–font as my research assignment but then I remembered that I don’t really like typography and that there are people around that are way better than me at that, that’s why it’s a sourcebook.
To what sense would you like your this project, and the methodology used, to correspond to your practice after graduation?
Oh dear, here come the future–questions, I’ve been trying to avoid them for weeks. I do think about them, there’s just so much I want to do!
I would like to make more projects like this one. I’d like to work together with people who care about the same things as I do, and create things in which people can participate, and projects that get their own life after they’ve been introduced to the world.
Where did you do your internship?
At Circus Engelbregt, former EGBG, the studio of Martijn Engelbregt in Amsterdam.
In what way has the experience of doing an internship changed you, or, your (design) beliefs or (work)habits?
I have learned so much during my internship! It was an amazing experience. I’ve come to realise that a lot is possible if you just act like it’s a normal thing to ask, do or make. I still have the same ‘designbeliefs’ but they’re expanded to the belief that I can do whatever the hell I want if the story’s good enough. Spoken and unspoken design rules are very breakable if you break them consciously.
Also: yoga and holistic worldviews!
Did they serve avocado during lunch?
Hahahaha. Yes, all the time. I’ve come to appreciate avocado very much.It’s the ultimate designerfood.
Onto another one of the projects of graduation: could you inform us on your partner, client and type of assigment for the practical assignment?
I worked together with Vincent Hammingh for the IABR (via Catalogtree), we made a publication about Carbon Added Tax, a great solution for climate change problems.
The corporation went really well, I think we complement eachother well in our work! (Fortunately, Vincent is very good in typography and I in turn can handle lots of data) The assignment went great and smoothly. Besides that, it was about saving the world, or at least the climate, so that’s great anyhow.
We had a lot of fun (Oh! And if I can I’d like to thank Walter from the printing work place here for his patience with all our weird printing technique–wishes).
Five years from now, you’ll be doing what?
OH DEAR LORD REALLY?
Okay… I’ll either be singing in a traveling folkband in Scandinavia, or be chained to a tree somehwere, or be making extremely succesful art projects or I’ll have written ten books and will live in a castle with all my friends and adopted pets and actually I have no clue whatsoever, but I hope I’ll be saving the world in some way.
And last but not least: any tips or advice for upcoming graduate students, or new students?
Run away, run away! Or the all–time favourite: be yourself, or at least try to find out who you are and what you want and don’t let anyone tell you that that’s not enough. And be healthy, sleep and sanity are more important than good grades. If anyone says otherwise: screw ‘em.