Laura de Wilde, visual artist

Laura de Wilde makes abstract collages and paintings. In her minimalistic compositions she layers and mixes a vast range of ingredients, playing on the most diverse effects and characteristics of the material: heavy linen, metal sheet, vintage paper, pigment powder and epoxy resin. For our interview, we met at her studio in a former school in Amsterdam Oost, where Laura arranges her art together with precious things and found objects to beautiful still lives. The building is run by a collective of artists, photographers and writers. 
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
What is your background?
After grammar school, I went to a teachers training college and university, convinced I would become a teacher. However, already during my studies, there was a shift to the visual arts and my thesis was about Artists’ Books of the 70s and 80s. My first ‘real’ job was at an English publishing house. I used to work as a photo and text editor for several magazines and was responsible for the overall look, always busy with the layout and giving directions to assigned photographers. If you look at my paintings now you can often see a grid, they tend to look a bit like layouts of magazine pages.

How did it all start?
Already from an early age on I had been looking at art and dreamt of making art myself. But only 10 years ago I made the switch and became a full-time artist. There were a few things that played a role in my decision to start a second career. After so many years of working as a magazine editor, I was kind of running on autopilot. I had three kids to take care of. When my mother became ill, it was finally time to reset my priorities. Of course, I had immense doubts to take the step. But I also felt that I needed to do it. In the end, it was my husband who convinced me to do what I had always wanted to do. 
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Can you describe your work?
I find it hard to label it but overall my work is minimalistic. You could say it’s bold, yet it is all about balance. My signature element is the cadre, often arranged repetitively and in several layers, monochrome or in contrasting colours. In my compositions, I try to achieve an ultimate tension, something that makes you turn around and look again. It’s an intuitive process where the emphasis is on the colour, structures, tactility, repetition and variation. And in the end, it’s all about emotion. The process and materialism are far more important for me than any reference to the outside world. It’s an inner world, my inner world.
My canvasses vary from tiny formats to huge sizes. I also work on paper and make collages.

Tell me about your material.
The material has a crucial influence on my work and I try to explore the broadest range of its manifestation: From natural tones and rough textures to ultra-glossy and fluorescent smoothness. I’m fond of gold and glitter. I use metallic sheet or even basic things like aluminium foil. Metallic pigment powder is one of my favourites. I add it to diverse mediums or simply mix it with water.
I love the combination of old and new. When it comes to material I am a true hoarder: I keep everything and I save up all the leftovers in order to reuse them for a new piece of work.
Experimenting is my way of working: A lot of things happen accidentally and I am often surprised by the result when I come back to the studio the next morning. The process and the experiment are crucial, in terms of material but also colour, texture, grid etc. At the moment I am experimenting with epoxy resin. I even paint with it! 
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
"In my compositions I try
to achieve an ultimate tension,
something that makes you
turn around and look again."
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
How do you promote your work?
I am not represented by one gallery but sometimes I am asked to exhibit my work. I also participate in so-called pop-up galleries. Luckily, I do have commercial skills to do my own marketing and sales. My publishing background comes in really handy I have to say. Here in the building, we organize a lunch every once in a while where we invite people to come, enjoy good food and have a look around. We also participate in Open Ateliers Oost. Then we tidy up the studios, display the work and set our doors open for the day.
I am quite active on Instagram. You won’t believe how much happens actually via Instagram! Social media, in general, keeps surprising me: customers that come to buy a piece and tell me that they have been following me already for years…!
Another way to show my work is with interior designers or stylists. They have used my work in photo shootings for various clients. Internationally my work can be purchased via online galleries such as Saatchi Online US and Verdigris Art in the UK.

A typical workday?
I work 5 days a week, 2 mornings I go to the gym. I am often en route to deliver stuff, buy materials and such. Sometimes I go back to the studio after dinner or at the weekend. I work "in my head" a lot, too.
In the evening I often work on my laptop. I do things like filing, social media updates, archiving, administration, etc. 
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
"The process and materialism
are far more important for me
than any reference to the outside world."
Your inspiration?
Even though my work is totally abstract, it’s often inspired by nature or the things I see when I bike through town or on a hike in the countryside. This could be anything; the layers of a rose, shadow-patterns on the street, tree trunks, dilapidated walls or a line in a novel, song or poem. Anything really. I make lots of pictures with my mobile of anything that catches my eye and sometimes just flipping through them gives me enough inspiration to start going. I will not reproduce any of it but these are starting points for me.

Which artists do you admire?
The list is endless but to name a few:
Richard PrinceChristopher WoolGerhard RichterCallum InnesHelen FrankenthalerJoan MitchellMaaike SchoorelCy TwomblyClyfford StillTàpiesDe KooningLucio FontanaJan SchoonhovenWilliam TurnerDonald JuddAgnes Martin,
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
Laura de Wilde, visual artist
You can find Laura's work here.
Follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

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