DOES recently sat down with Dave Aalbers from VICE for an exclusive interview.
"For me, DOES is like a fairy tale, a second person in my life."
In the studio of Joos van Barneveld the spray cans, brushes and markers lie unordered on his worktable. Against the wall is a large canvas with one of his artworks, and there are several Fortuna Sittard shirts that he has designed. His cat is sleeping peacefully, and when I walk in, he continues doing so undisturbed.
Van Barneveld started making art when he was a footballer. He played in the National youth teams of The Netherlands and was a promising talent at Fortuna Sittard, and no one at the club knew that he regularly sprayed graffiti out on the streets at night. Due to injuries, his career ended early. His art, on the other hand, can be found all over the world: for assignments he regularly flies to places like Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Dubai.
His art is currently exhibited in Miami and Dortmund, and more than 180,000 people follow him on Instagram. In the world of art he is known as DOES. He does not appear recognizable in his account and also for this interview he would rather not have his face on the photo. I visited DOES in his studio in Geleen and talked to him about his new life, being caught by the police and working in the Brazilian favela.
VICE Sports: Hey Does, why don’t you want to be recognized on pictures?
DOES: I would like to show my work, and not necessarily the person behind it. Because of my background in football, it is of course more difficult to keep it completely separate. The footballer Joos van Barneveld also feels a bit like a previous life. During my career everything was very structured, and I wanted to be myself more. I was looking for a kind of liberation. For me, DOES is like a fairy tale, a second person in my life.
When did you begin to feel that your passion is also in art and drawing?
I remember well that in the youth academy of Fortuna I was always looking outside to tags and other drawings while in the bus to training sessions and games. I was very much attracted to graffiti on the streets. I then started in anonymity at a certain point and that felt so good. Besides two good friends, nobody knew that I was walking around the neighborhood to put my tag.
What was it like to go out and put something that first time?
Super exciting of course. I was about fourteen and went with my spray cans to an electricity house in a park at daytime. Those two friends were on the lookout, the operation had been planned well in advance. I can still remember how it felt when I had finished: wow, I had put my first work. I will never forget that moment again. At the time I was also selected for the Dutch national youth team. I really started to notice that I found two things very interesting: playing football and putting graffiti on anonymously.
Have you ever been caught by the police?
Yes, I was painting a wall along the railway track with my girlfriend and a good friend. A car arrived and that turned out to be the police. We jumped over a wall and I wanted to race away as fast as possible. I saw my girlfriend alone in the bushes, she was petrified in one way or another and stayed in those bushes. She did not follow us. Then another friend on a scooter went to see what exactly was going on, and he saw my girlfriend sitting in the police van. I felt I could not leave her behind and get away with it myself. That same evening I went to the police station, where I had to stay in a cell overnight.
What did Fortuna Sittard think of this?
At the club they did not know anything about my second life at that time. I played in the Premier League with Fortuna, so I begged the police to not make this public. I am so grateful to them that they kept it quiet. I got a fine, which I could pay off with money that I received for the travel costs of the KNVB. My girlfriend and friend did not have that money, so they had to scratch chewing gum of pavements for some hours. I thought that was pretty silly.
How did you feel when you had to give up your football career early because of injuries?
When I was young, football was always completely natural. I did not have to bother with it and it all went well. But due to serious knee injuries I ended up in a deep hole. I asked myself: why is it not all that good now? At that time I was really in a conflict and still wanted nobody to know what I was doing with regards to graffiti.
My wife then convinced me to do what I really got energy from. Gradually I started to draw more and paint on canvas away from the illegal. Fortuna meanwhile got relegated, so when I could play again that was in the First Division. Then I got injured again and I had to rehabilitate for yet another year. My football careert actually went downhill slowly and ended up as a night candle at FC Eindhoven. Apparently I have not finished it completely, because I still regularly dream about football.
What do you dream then?
I often dream about situations that I used to find very annoying. Sometimes I forget my boots in the locker room and then again I am kept on the bench while all my teammates are playing football. I also work with a mental coach, who has been helping me for almost ten years now to turn the old into positive energy.
As a starting artist it seems tough to make ends meet. Did it feel like a gamble to go for art fully?
My football career has actually flowed quite naturally into the artist's life. Through former Fortuna star Mark Burke I became part-time talent scout for Aston Villa's renowned Academy for two and a half years. That gave me more security and in addition I was working on my own company. I soon noticed that playing football for me is much more interesting than scouting talents. Of the ten youth games you watch, nine are pretty boring. As I was driving from match to match by car, I often thought: Oh man, I wish I was in my studio now.
Meanwhile, your artworks are now on buildings and exhibitions around the world. What is the coolest place you have ever made something?
I do not really care about the place. More about the people I know and who take me through their city. I therefore come to places where I would never come as a tourist. A boy from Rio de Janeiro took me once through the favela where he lived. At the top of that favela I have been allowed to put a number of works, which are probably still to be seen today. Because of those trips with local boys, I sometimes come to places where I do not want to come again.
Right on the top of that favela was a hole between the rocks. The boy I was with, immediately indicated that it was better not to look into that pit. There were also birds of prey flying around. "They fly here to find leftovers," he said. People were regularly liquidated there. In the lampposts you could still see the bullet holes, that was pretty gruesome to see. Ecuador is perhaps also a good example.
What did you experience there?
I flew from Dubai, where I was in a super luxury hotel, directly to Quito in Ecuador. The contrast was so great: I ended up in a hotel somewhere in a ghetto. That hotel was so rancid, man. After two days I asked those people at the hotel if they could replace my sheets. When two women were doing this, I actually saw an enormous dried out blood spot on my mattress. I had already slept on that for two days. In the same trip I was not allowed to leave my hotel once because there was a stabbing at the door. Things like that are awesome, but they are the stories I never forget.
When abroad for a job, do you sometimes secretly set out to do something?
If I have extra time that sometimes occurs. I try to do that in a special location. In China, for example, it was once in an old school from the communist era. I often do that with local boys, because I do not want to get caught in those kind of countries. It is often something small and simple, but secretly creeping in somewhere gives me a bit of that feeling of the past.
Why do you almost never have time for that?
I now have two children and then try to stay abroad for up to six days. Even if the job is in Australia, I am only there for a very short time. Then I get off the plane and I blast full, just to speak in football terms.
Fortuna was always at the top of my list of potential parties to work with. When they were still playing in the Eerste Divisie, I had a meeting with owner Isitan Gün about designing a shirt. The moment I started the project, I never dreamed that they would get promoted back to Eredivisie. It is special that they play Ajax and PSV in my shirt.
So the two worlds that kept you normally separated suddenly came together.
Yes, exactly. As a five-year-old boy, I was already in the stands of the old stadium the Baandert and I had all the shirts of Fortuna. I found it most special to have my own shirt in my hands for the first time. I have experienced the process of designing the shirt very intensely. I also have a season ticket, but because I am abroad so much, I have not had time to pick it up. That will certainly happen this season. I have a season ticket behind the goal between the fanatic supporters. I still think that's the best way to watch your favourite team.
Are you happier now than as a footballer?
Football has shaped me, but I think that the current individuality fits me better now. I now also work together with a number of people, but that is different from constantly being in a dressing room with 24 people. They will always remain two worlds. I actually feel Joos 2.0 now. I work hard for it and can now manage and support my family. Money is not the most important thing in life however. Leaving something behind in this world is much more important to me.
Where does the feeling come from that you always want to leave something behind?
That is a good question. Via Instagram I recently received a photo from someone who had found one of my works right next to his office. That makes me very happy. That I can reach people and make them happy with colour and positivity. It will always give me a kick that I have done work worldwide. I can show that I have not been idle in life. It may sound a little crazy, but I want to show to myself that I exist.