In the studio
Den Bosch, NL
Thomas Trum works on the intersection of art and design. Most of his work revolves around the innovative research into paint and techniques. Using the studio as a place for experimentation, he researches unconventional ways to paint on paper, canvas or walls. For example, he uses a super-sized felt pen, a machine for road line marking and brushes attached to a drill.
His way of working is often based on trial-and-error: the results of his actions are never pre-determined, keeping enthusiasm and velocity part of the result.
The AkzoNobel Art Foundation celebrates 25 years, today - the 1st of June - a new group exhibition opens in the Artspace in Amsterdam: 'Reflections beyond the Surface'. Thomas Trum made a beautiful presentation with recent works. A cabinet full of radiant works presented on walls with his signature marker drawing.
We asked Thomas about his work, his studio and the wonderful edition.
Where did you study?
I grew up in Den Bosch and studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven.
How do you start a new work or series of works?
New works emerge from inspiration that I get from new techniques or materials. Two years ago, I spent a day with a team of road markers, which was a starting point for working with road marking machines, which I used for this AkzoNobel edition. These processes are often quite long, and this knowledge and inspiration is always of use to me for a new work.
Do you have a daily routine and what does it look like in terms of schedule and activities?
I try to keep a tight schedule when working. When I have the time, I aim to start the day by going through my mail at 7h30 in the studio with an espresso. Then I spent the rest of the day in the workshop, often until 18h00.
Can you describe your studio for us?
My studio is a large space with different places connected to each other. It is an old 180 m2 warehouse with large windows on the west with late afternoon sun. In the back of my workshop I built a storage with shelve units as well as an office for computer work.
50m2 Of my studio is working area. I always prefer to work on one project at a time, which means that I often must clean up properly. I prefer working in an empty space. Fortunately, my girlfriend Mieke helps me with that.
The act of painting, spray paint or applying ink is central to your work. How did this come about?
I think it has to do with my background of graffiti and house painting. I have always been interested in making tracks and looking at tracks of large vehicles.
Painting tools obviously have certain properties that generate a specific track. I think the tools I work with have been carefully curated and developed for the image I want to create. Ultimately, my works emerge from very quick and simple actions consisting of very few lines.
When is a work finished for you?
A work is finished when a certain amount of perfection is attained, it needs to look simple and minimal. There are a lot of works I make that nobody ever sees.
Can you tell us something about Two Curved Lines (2020), the series of 75 works you made for AkzoNobel?
This is a series of works consisting of a continuous line that changes color, where one line passes over the surface twice.
I make a lot of works with squiggly lines that create circles, which I make with felt-tip pens. This series of works uses a modern airless spray-paint mounted on a tripod. The surface then rotates while the spray-paint remains in the same place. This is how these perfect curves are created on paper.
Can you tell us something about the working process?
The lines within the work are all connected, which makes it an interesting series, I think. The colors are made with a mixing paste including pigments called Acomix from the Sikkens mixing machines.
Do you think it is special that AkzoNobel employees will soon have your work on their walls?
Of course; I’m quite a paint geek myself, so imagine how I must be feeling when the largest paint company in the world is interested in my work. What a compliment!
Is there something you’d like to say about the AkzoNobel Art Collection?
It is one of the most interesting corporate collections I know with many great exemplary artists. Of course, this is driven by my interest in painting, and the collection contains great works. Think of Robert Zandvliet or Bernard Frize.
What are your plans for the near future?
I'm thinking about taking a snow shoveling course. It seems like a fantastic side job to me, in the winter, clearing heavy snowfall in a formation of several snow ploughs on the highways. Basically, ultimate line drawing!
In addition, I want to work on larger scales, so I’m looking to see if other elements such as aerial work platforms or assistants could help with that. Think of a minimum of 10 m2, really pushing the boundaries.
Thomas Trum, Two Curved Lines (2020)
spray paint on paper
edition of 75, 71 x 52 cm
special AkzoNobel price: € 475 | Framed € 700
Thomas Trum graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2014 and was a resident at the Calcutta Art Research Foundation in 2016. He has had exhibitions in Het Noordbrabants Museum, Mini Galerie, Galerie Vivid, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Gerhard Hofland Gallery, De Kunsthal, The Hole Gallery (NY), Designmuseum Gent and later this year at Galerie Conrads in Berlin. His work is represented in a lot of collections.