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93 minutes w/ joëlle terlouw

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Could you introduce yourself?

Yes, I am Joëlle, 22 years old.

At the moment I live in Kootwijkerbroek (Gelderland)

How is the whole graduation experience doing it for you?

I think it’s all pretty cool actually. You get a lot of freedom and it seems that this creates much more opportunities… Choosing your own project instead of getting an assignment from a teacher is much more motivating somehow. You are really responsible of successfully finishing your own ideas. I find that exciting, good and very interesting!

Could you tell us something about your research project?

Yes, I’m researching autonomy. Autonomy is a much used word in descriptions of art and graphic design en is being used in many ways. But those ways are very much contradictive to each other. First, I researched the use of the term ‘autonomy’ in literature. I found all sorts of conflicting uses, which I think devalued the term. Which is a shame, because autonomy is such a beautiful, powerful word. In my research project I want to raise awareness for the ambivalence of autonomy, to revitalize the discussion on autonomy (like how this happened a few years ago with The Autonomy Project in the VanAbbenmuseum).

Autonomy is not something physical, or something tactile, and this is why there is so much to be said about it. For instance, on one hand you could say that autonomy is aesthetical, that is it about the beauty of something, or the use of materials and the experience of that. On the other hand, you could say that when the aesthetical values of an artwork are playing a too big role, this artwork cannot be autonomous anymore.

This is just one of many discussions which is involved when it comes to autonomy. That discussion, ironically but serious, is something which I want to bring to the surface and show. Doing that, I will stay neutral. There is already so much said about it, I don’t feel the need to add another opinion to that.

What were some important influences for the creation of your project the way it’s constructed currently?

By having talks with teachers, other students and the authors of the articles on autonomy, I found out that the autonomy of art is comparable with the ‘Is there a God?’–matter within religion. Doe autonomy exist or not? Autonomy is, just like a God, physical, not touchable. Everyone has their own opinion on the (non) existence of it. This creates an endless discussion which also applies to autonomy. I found this quite exciting, it motivated me even more to research all the facets of the autonomy discussion. That is how I realized that autonomy is a sensitive subject. Which I had to approach rather seriously, with some irony. Because the discussion on autonomy is absurd, but because of that, very interesting as well.

Does your research project, to you, feel as like it’s your Mona Lisa of your work so far?

It definitely is a project which is close to my interests. In that sense it feels more ‘balanced’ than other projects. And the assignment is not officially given by school, but by yourself. That feels kind of awesome… This project is among other things based on research, which I like, and now you’ve had the time and space for it. That deepness is what makes the project really interes– ting. It contains a certain urgency, which makes this project more valuable than other past projects.

Could you tell us something about your thesis?

My thesis has the same base as my research project. Like I said before artworks are often labeled ‘poetic’ or ‘autonomous’. In my thesis I focus on poetry. What is poetry? Wat does poetry mean in this period of time and how can a graphic designer insert poetry in his or her design?

This thesis has a basic structure of a gradient. It begins with the poetic text (a poem), then fades into visual poetry (words and letters poured into a certain shape), and from there it fades into the poetic image (images) and eventually this all comes together in a poetic design. A graphic designer uses words and images as base material. Poetry communicates in a very special and often ambivalent way with these materials, what can be very interesting for a graphic designer!

Has your thesis had a certain influence on deciding on the subject of the research assignment?

The subjects are relatively close to each other, and the starting point of both subject is also king of the same (the question of what the word actually really means and how it’s been used in the world of art and graphic design). The way of looking at and researching of the subject in both projects have definitely influenced each other.

To what sense would you like your project, and it’s methodology, to correspond to your practice after graduation?

I find the research minded approach very important and valuable. I definitely want to continue that, but than maybe in way that is even more combined to my personal style. ArtEZ has a very own style, throughout the years you certainly pick up on that a little. But I want to emphasize my own style and combine this with a research minded approach. Enthusiasm, focus on a certain design and studying while researching.

Where did you do your internship?

My internship was at Buro Reng in Groningen.

Buro Reng does both commercial as self–initiated projects. I find that to be a very pleasant combination, because I wanted to learn in both fields. Hans Gerritsen and Pascal Rumph are the owners of the studio. At the moment they work a lot on websites and other digital applications.

 

In what way has the experience of doing an internship changed you of your (design) beliefs or (work)habits?

Communication is a very central thing at their studio, and they’re very good at it! They are honest, open and direct. They have definitely inspired me as to becoming aware of words. And they also encouraged me to keep doing what feels good to me. It’s less stressing for both yourself and in the communication towards the client.

Did they serve avocado during lunch?

Haha, NO! not even! They did have a lot of other good food though!

Could you inform us on your partner, client and type of assignment for the practical assignment?

I did my practical assignment in collaboration with Britte Hietkamp. This collaboration went very well and the assignment that we got was very cool. We had to make a design for a graphic design file catalog. Beautiful posters! Very nice material to work with, that alone made the project just awe some to work on. What became kind of an interesting matter was the fact that the Stedelijk Museum really wanted us to make them a very basic research document and that our guiding teachers at ArtEZ wanted to see us experiment a lot. After a lot of considerations, we found a good and cool compromise, which of course was kind of exciting during the final presentation. We showed them the final publication and they loved it!

What will you be doing in 5 years from now?

Very likely I will be doing a masters or working at a graphic design studio to gain some working experience, and next to this I will probably be working on self–initiated projects.

Any tips or advice for upcoming graduate or new students?

Let yourself be guided by the teachers, but mostly: stay true to yourself and your own ideas!