“Digital Does is one of the latest artists I’ve had the chance to talk to after coming across his work on instagram. Immediately I was drawn in by the clean and colorful designs Digital Does incorporates into his throws. His strong grasp of design puts most of what you would find in fine art galleries today to shame. Just a cursory glance at his instagram tells you that this guy is always looking to puts his creativity anywhere he can whether that’s in the amazing murals he paints all over the world from Mexico City to Melbourne, Australia, but also his illustrative work and canvas paintings that he shares online from his studio. Does was nice enough to step away from the canvas to answer a few questions about his career, including his original love of football and his process for creating art.” Wesley Edwards
First off I want to say thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with us. Can we begin by you introducing yourself. What originally inspired you to choose graffiti as your medium of choice?
My interest in graffiti became serious when I signed my first contract as a professional football player. I needed a certain relief from all the routine and discipline and I slowly developed a second life, a life outside the public eye. When I travelled to the training ground my eyes were always drawn to tags and throw ups and at some point I discovered a hidden tunnel next to the train line. This place opened up a whole new world to me and I went there to do my first piece while my two best friends were patrolling for me.
In a previous interview you mentioned that you were trying to pursue a career in football before turning your full attention to graffiti and art. Do you think that if it wasn’t from the knee injuries you sustained that you would have still pursued graffiti? How close were you to doing football full time and do you do graffiti full time now?
If I hadn’t been forced to stop due the injuries, I think I would have played professional until about 35, this is the typical age for football players to ‘retire’. I turned 35 earlier this year, so that would have been this year. If this would have been the course of my life, football would have probably consumed most of my time and I would definitely not have been able to develop my skills as an artist to the point where I am today.
Football and other athletics are about discipline and training. Athletes develop training programs, eat right and maximize recovery to improve their performance on the field. Did any of that thinking carry over into art? If so what kind of training did you put yourself through to get better at art?
The disciplined lifestyle is definitely something that has been engrained into my life and this characterizes the way I go about my daily activities and work. What has worked well for me in developing myself as an artist is to practice my drawing skills on a continuous basis and always keep at it even if I am in a less then positive mood.
For artists that are looking to step into working commercially what do you recommend for them to do? Did you offer your services up for free to local businesses in the Netherlands when you were starting out to gain a reputation? What was your first job and how did you negotiate it?
When I started it was never my intention to make a living as an artist, I already had my income through football. Because of that I didn’t feel the need to offer my services to anyone and I focused mainly on developing my own style. If you are starting out and want to gain a reputation, I don’t think it would be a great idea to offer your services for free as this sets an example and it may then become more difficult to move away from that. I do think it is crucial that you have a good spot that you can use as playground, preferably with peers.
In an interview with wadezig.com from Indonesia you said that you and your girlfriend were in a earthquake in New Zealand! What happened, were you working at the time?
That is an experience I will never forget, terrifying. We booked a 2 week trip to New Zealand when we lived in Australia; we started in Auckland where we met Askew, PhatOne and Berst and then we took off on our road trip which ended in Christchurch. When we arrived I was already a little bit on edge as the town had suffered a severe earthquake just a few weeks before, several buildings had collapsed and a big part of the city centre was not accessible. After our first night there sleeping in the back of our van we went to a grocery shop and then it suddenly hit, for about one minute it was as we were on a ship conquering a rough sea. And then that happened again when we arrived at the home of the people we were meeting, I saw their house sway. After these big aftershocks, 6.8 and 5.4, many smaller aftershocks followed. I didn’t really catch any sleep that night !
Have you ever had any run ins with the police?
Run ins yes, I only ended up in a police station once. My girl and I went out to do a piece together, she got herself arrested and I got to play the hero by giving myself up and save her.
What is your favorite and least favorite place to travel?
I don’t have a favorite or least favorite place to travel, I love the variety of the places that I have been able to visit so far. The possibility to travel and meet new people is a true privilege. You can basically go anywhere in the world and there will always be a writer that is willing to show you around town and have you over for a few days. Traveling has broadened my perspective and the experiences on my travels are a great source of inspiration.
How did you get to the point of being able to travel and paint in different places around the world? Do you just reach out to people in New Zealand etc. and try to find work or did you gain a reputation from your work in Netherlands that opened up opportunities for you elsewhere?
I have never reached out to people to try to find work, that is not really in my nature, I am an introvert. When I started out I sent photos of my work to the various magazines around the world and soon after that I started sharing my work through social media. It is mainly through social media that I was able to reach a big audience. Now I still devote several hours a week to updating my website and social media channels.
What kind of books, music or movies inspire you today? Is there any artists that you are a fan of today and what inspired the style you use?
In the morning, I now listen to the music my two little ones (3 and 1) like to put on, such as ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’. When I am in my studio I listen to the radio as I like to hear the news, keep myself updated on what’s going on in the world. I have never been a big reader so I can’t name any books that have inspired me and the same goes for movies, although I can really enjoy an episode of Planet Earth.
Any shout outs you would like to give? Where can people follow you to see what you are up to today?
Shout out to anyone who has been following me over the last 20 years.