Interview Lara Deutz: ‘The Story Behind’ by LisaMarCom

It’s pouring cats and dogs outside when I walk into the famous artist area Nieuwe Binnenweg in Rotterdam. Slowly an old-timer car follows me down the road. I ask myself “are they after me?” I decide to cross.

I’m meeting my friend Lara Deutz a.k.a. Jazzalara (a multitalented artist and musician) to talk about her artistry and exhibition “Space Girl”. Her atelier is based in an old primary school building from 1881. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her parents, who are both artists of the Fine Arts, are born and raised in Rotterdam. The atelier is her second home, and I’m very excited to meet her there.

As I ring the bell Lara opens the door. She’s wearing a shirt twice her size and a big smile. She lights up the room. This is typically Lara, because she has a compassionate personality. Together we walk through the long and dark hallway. The building gives off a certain energy.

The light shines through the high windows. It makes the atelier feel warm and cozy. Classical music is playing in the background and the smell of fresh paint welcomes you. We drink herbal tea together and share some food that I brought.

1. MEET THE ARTIST

Lara, I have the honor to know you for many years now. For me it’s totally clear who you are – but can you introduce yourself to the audience?

“At this moment I’m 30 years old. I’m born and raised in the historical part of Rotterdam (Historisch Delfshaven) and still live in this beautiful area. I studied Media & Entertainment Management and graduated in 2014. At first, it was hard to find a relevant job. I did some modeling, hosting, and customer service jobs. After six months I found my first full-time position as an Online Marketer. Very cool, but from this moment on my two biggest passions slowly faded away.”

Can you tell us more about your passions and hobbies? You have a lot of them!

“I realised I was missing creativity in my life and said to myself: I don’t want to lose that ever again”. Creativity has always been an essential part of me and remains an important drive in my artistic development. Today, I still work as a Marketeer, but I make less hours. This way I can spend more time on my own projects. I like my job but creating art gives me more energy.

Besides art and music I also love all kinds of sports! I exercise in the gym, run, swim, do yoga and recently I started Krav Maga [1]. I’ve been doing Krav Maga for four months now and I’m preparing for my first practical exam. I’m very excited!”

Sounds cool. A real tough girl! Any other sports?

“From time to time I also like to try other kinds of sports, such as climbing, bouldering, skating and surfing. SkyDiving is on my bucket list. I never get bored, but sometimes I need to take some time for myself and meditate. There’s so much going on in this world. When I’m meditating I feel connected with myself and the universe. That feels so good! Sometimes I get new insights and inspiration while I’m meditating (which I use for new artworks and/or songs).”

Can you share with us which artists and art styles have influenced your work? And under which art style(s) do you classify your work?

“Speaking about inspiration. Artists such as Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring inspire me enormously. In my art you can identify the art styles abstract expressionism, pop art, and line art.”


What is the history of your artistry?

“I think creativity is part of my DNA. In this artistic family we have a lot of room for creativity. My brother share the same creative genes and has fulfilled his dreams in the movie scene as a 3D animator (Ziggy Animation) By the way, my parents are also active on this platform: Lynda Deutz and Alex Meidam.”

What’s the history behind your musical career?

“Music has been my biggest hobby and passion. For years I had piano lessons and from my thirteenth to my nineteenth I played piano in a jazz band. One of our highlights: a performance at the North Sea Jazz Festival. I will never forget this. I was nineteen when the band broke up, I started writing my own songs and started singing. Later I took singing lessons and formed a duo with my boyfriend at the time. After we broke up, I decided to work on my solo career. Currently, I’m working on a new EP together because it’s time to release some new music!”

2. THE STORY BEHIND

What’s the underlying story behind the atelier / workplace itself?

“My parents own this workplace. Prior to being a home for artists, it was a girls school / domestic science school. This is a very unique place. It feels like home to me. I have been coming here all my life. Besides that,  I have all the space and materials for my artworks, and of course, my lovely parents are also present. They are so sweet, adorable and they know everything about art and so much more! The studio is part of SKAR [2]. This organization rents out studios and rehearsal spaces to artists and performers.”

What are your resources of inspiration? How does music influence your work?

“I get inspiration from my personal environment, but also from nature (Planet Earth and space) and social themes. The lyrics I use in my artworks could appear in songs or vice versa. Yoga is something I integrate in my Space Girl project. With this I want to convey zen-ness/calmness. There are so many types of stress in the world we live in these days. For example, certain stress at work/in your private life, traffic and social media also put pressure on your mind and body. I wish everyone good health, mental and physical peace. Hopefully my work will be an eye-opener for those who are online 24/7 and/or constantly pushing themselves beyond their limits.”

3. MEET THE ART

Can you show us an overview and the story of the featured artwork? How did these come about?

Drippings:

“I started dripping after the break up with my boyfriend. They symbolize my emotions. I use a lot of blue, because I feel attracted to this color (or maybe I’m feeling blue when I’m dripping). The dripping technique feels good because it’s totally outside the comfort zone. Because of this feeling I like to create these types of paintings. When I start a new one I have absolutely no idea how the final picture is going to look like. I like surprises. The way the paint “drips” is out of my control. The final painting is a little surprise every time.”

Pop-art:

“Since I was young I’ve been inspired by pop-art. When I was following art class in high school, I had to pick one favorite art style. For me that is pop-art. For my graduation and final exam, my project got a nine out of ten This style inspires me because it’s modern (50’s/60’s) and it’s a reaction on abstract expressionism (1946 – 1960) – just like my drippings.”

Line-art:

“This style recently caught my eye. It’s impressive how just one line can show you what the image is all about. Less is more. Besides, comics and illustrations always inspire me. You can create your own character and tell a story. Of course, you can do this with another style as well, but with line-art it’s easier to do this. For example my character Space Girl.

Other styles that inspire me are surrealism, op-art, impressionism and art nouveau. I think these types of visual arts are very interesting, but I’m not sure if I am going to experiment with all of these. Maybe I’ll experiment with surrealism later.”

Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis
Staring Eyes
Space Girl
This is Space Girl

4. MEET THE CHANGE: THE NEW ART 

The Corona Pandemic a.k.a. ‘The New Normal’ changed a lot for everyone. How does this affect you and your art?

“A lot of artists were hit hard by Covid-19 and also event organizations (and of course bars, restaurants etc). All posters in the city were irrelevant. During the first wave in Rotterdam the organization “Publieke Werken” developed an outdoor exhibition throughout the city. More than 400 visual artist, designers, photographers, image makers and illustrators were represented via posters. Simply to fill the void that had arisen and to show that imagination is better than advertising. First I thought that I had to wait a long time for an exhibition, but this was already in July – August 2020.

In this project, all artworks come together. All artists had a limited edition of 8 posters for sale. The public could choose their favorite artwork and buy an A0 poster from the artist for 35 euros. You can still take a look at all posters [3]. Maybe some artists still have posters, like me. I have three posters left. Below the image you will find the email address of the artist and you can contact the organization directly via the website.”

Space Girl
Space Girl’s Army

Tell us everything about Space Girl! Who is she and where did she come from?

“You would think that my Space Girl project has started during Corona, but I actually created the character before the pandemic. The world falling apart has been going on for a long time already. Climate change, global warming, natural disasters, wars, pandemics, plastic pollution and so on. End of December 2019 and in the beginning of January 2020 I came up with Space Girl, a few months before Covid-19 reached the Netherlands. At that moment I wasn’t aware it was going to be so intense. In fact, Space Girl was created due to the break-up with my ex-boyfriend. For his birthday I made an artwork about us as a couple dancing on the moon. The relationship ended two days before his birthday and I realized that it was going to be an awkward gift. I created helmets so our faces wouldn’t be visible, which would make the artwork universal as well. The new image actually appealed to me and I saw potential in this. The helmet stands for anonymity and I think it’s a theme that’s developing these days. Our privacy is less and less protected and the online/personal data is growing.

I’m also inspired by the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, where the main character never takes off his helmet (I definitely recommend this series). In addition to anonymity, I’d like to implement themes like escapism, space race and a little bit of feminism in this project. When I’m talking about astronauts, the first image you would think of is a male astronaut, right? But there are female astronauts too! The amount of female heroes is huge, but they have been whipped out of our history books. It is time for them to be known, and represented. We need to know these heroes. We need Space Girls!”

Did the lockdown have any affect on her?

“At first, I didn’t want to publish my artworks online until I would have an exhibition. After the opening I would put it online, that was my idea. Due to the lockdown, I launched Space Girl on social media on the 30th of March 2020. Covid-19 started spreading itself in The Netherlands that month and our national lockdown started. All exhibitions were cancelled and a lot of artists didn’t know what to do. Well, going online was the only thing we could do. Even my father started an Instagram-account!”

Cool! About his Corona Painting Project?

“Yes! He had never been active on social media before. He went online and showed the world his Corona Painting Project [4]!”

What about your social media?

“When I started sharing Space Girl, I created short comics that were related to Covid-19 every Monday. I already made a lot of artworks before ‘the launch’, but wanted to wait a bit more to show ‘the dark, black & white illustrations’. Creating comics was also a lot of fun! But the longer Corona lasts, the less fun it gets. The content of the comics slowly became just more about escapism and space instead of corona. Who doesn’t want to leave planet Earth right now to discover the universe?”

We do. What differences did you notice regarding the influence of visibility on the internet and social media in contemporary times compared to the ‘Old World’?

“Compared to the older generation artists and the artists of my generation I think networking via the internet is much easier. My father, on the other hand, is very good at networking and is very ‘visible’ in the art scene, offline. There’s nothing wrong with that and maybe it’s better. Offline contact is much more reliable, but putting your art online has a lot of advantages too. I know this because I’m working as an Online Marketer. My artworks are online for just a short time now so I don’t have a lot of experience in getting myself visible in the art scene. Space Girl’s Instagram is growing since March and now my website is online too!”

What are the advantages of being on social media as an artist?

  • “Your work is visible and available for the whole world (if your profile isn’t set on private).
  • People can take a look at your work just with their phone, wherever they are and share your artworks with their friends/network with one click (the share-button).
  • Another advantage of social media is the connection with your audience. You get likes and comments which gives you courage -and a little bit of dopamine- but you can also interact with your fans easily. You can ask what your audience thinks about your work and/or what they would like to see from you. It’s also good to get to know your audience better by doing this.
  • Another way to get to know your audience better is with the analytics tool. You can get a lot of interesting data about your audience, their behaviour and your content quality. You can see data of all your social media accounts if you have a business account and website (Google Analytics).
  • The analytics tool in Instagram is also interesting. This shows you which postings/artwork performs best (the most likes, the best reach etc.). You can use this information for future projects if you want to optimize for better results online. On the other hand, it’s also important to create artworks from your heart of course.

If you want, I can take a deep dive into the sea of data!”

Then she suddenly drifted off after three hours of nonstop talking, sharing and laughing and started singing from the balcony:

“… Lylylylylyly
Trust the universe,
Let go your fears
Trust the universe
Because Space Girl is here
Lylylylylyly
… “

The End

[1] Krav Maga is a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli security forces derived from a combination of techniques sourced from aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo, and karate. www.sportschoolhsw.nl
[2] Stichting Kunst Accommodatie Rotterdam
[3] https://www.publiekewerkenrotterdam.nl 
[4] https://www.alexmeidam.org