Featured Artist: Sjoerd Provoost

Nitram Charcoal (NC): Tell us about your background. Where are you from? Where have you studied? Sjoerd Provoost (SP): My name is Sjoerd Provoost. I'm a 19 year old student from the Netherlands, currently taking classes at the Edinburgh Atelier of Fine Art. I've moved here because it was hard to find similar education in the Netherlands – I wanted to better my technical skills before venturing into the world of freelance artistry.

NC: What is your workspace like? What inspires you in the studio? Messier than I'd like it to be! There's definitely merit in keeping your studio as clean as possible. I wish I was organized enough to keep it tidy, but I think there's also a kind of charming quality about the messy look that my studio regularly adopts. One thing I am very fond of in my workspace is the slowly expanding collage above my desk. I've taken souvenirs, cards and art pieces that all have some kind of personal value to me and stuck them on the wall. Looking at it every now and then definitely powers me back up, and I still remember every piece's reason for being on there.

NC: What is one thing you cannot live without in the studio? That's an easy one – music. Although I sometimes like to have a bit of quiet for thinking-heavy work, art becomes so much more enjoyable to do with some tunes playing in the background. I regularly enjoy a quiet soundtrack as accompaniment to my drawing process, but just as regularly, I have metal blasting out of my headphones. Weirdly enough, both help me focus.

NC: What is your creative process like? How do you seek creativity in your work? It's very intuitive. When something feels off, I try to pinpoint why I don't like it as much as I should, rather than methodically construct an improvement. Sometimes that causes me to go back and forth a few times, but when I do ultimately feel happy with the result, it's extremely satisfying.

NC: Where does your inspiration derive from? I've always had a great love for escapism. Anything that temporarily transports the viewer away I have a soft spot for. In my opinion, after the invention of photography, art's greatest strength lies in capturing what isn't actually there. You can apply that to both representational or imaginative work.

NC: In your opinion, what sets charcoal apart from other artistic medias? It can handle many different applications. You can achieve a great tightness of rendering quite quickly, while more expressive and swooping lines get a lovely chalky texture to them. It can also go very dark very quickly but still come back just as easily. That makes it a great medium for working fast.

NC: What is the greatest challenge to working with charcoal? Any time you go over something you've already touched, you will place, remove and smear charcoal all at the same time, giving it a certain unpredictability. That has its own appeal, though – it gives charcoal works a very human aspect.

NC: If you could hang out with one artist, living or dead, who would that be? What would you do? Probably Nathan Fowkes. I'd simply want to see him work his magic on his charcoal portraiture or his plein air painting. ...And maybe have him explain his process in that amazing voice of his.

Sjoerd Provoost is a young upcoming artist focusing on portraiture and illustration. Currently focusing on gaining a strong understanding of the craft, he's hard at work every day to develop strong technique to assist in creating works infused with powerful escapism and narrative. Experimenting with new mediums regularly, his art and preferred style are developing rapidly, but his mission remains the same: to create artwork that whisks the viewer away, even if just for a short while. Be sure to Follow Sjoerd on Instagram to stay up to date on his latest endeavors!

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