We both stood with cake on a paper saucer in our hands. Around us colleagues were having animated conversations. For me this was a familiar situation. Being a Freelance UX Designer for 8 years now, I had many of these ‘thank you and good bye’ occasions here.
"What are you going to do?" the Director Online asked.
"I would like to devote more time to my art", I replied.
"Can you show me your work?"
I grabbed my laptop, connected it to the brand new super large tv-screen and typed the URL of my online art portfolio I had quickly and silently launched two months before. While I was in the middle of giving a brief introduction to my plans and notes on old work, the Managing Director interrupted me.
"What should such a work of yours cost?”.
No prices where shown on the website. I mentioned a global price.
“Ok. I'd like to have one for the department. But make sure it has something to do with KPN.”.
I just witnessed my very first painting being commissioned.
In March 2015 I left the UX design project I had been working on for almost a year, to spent more time on my art. To thank the KPN ‘Mobile Sales’ department for their trust and confidence in my abilities as a designer, I bought pastries. But the very last thing I expected was to walk out the door with a commission for a painting.
The following weeks I sketched as if my life depended on it, regularly sending updates to the client, neatly presented in a PDF. As Mr. Upside I wanted the painting to convey a positive message. Out of two possible options in the first round, the client selected the ‘Ecosystem’ theme. And added another of complexity by adding three extra keywords.
The telecommunications market, a large organization like KPN and especially the Mobile Sales department I worked at, are shown as living and growing ecosystems. It is a life cycle in which screens or communication are sold 24/7. KPN does not actively recycle any products but every sold ‘screen’ adds to the ecosystem by providing an opportunity to buy even more screens. In the painting the staff is symbolised by a warm and friendly female person who is connected to her colleagues by head phones. The head phones symbolise the focussed listening to clients. Who on their turn are represented by bees.
To keep the work accessible and approachable, I chose an illustrative and figurative form. During the sketching phase it became obvious that to accomplish the desired symmetrical and graphical look, the illustration had to start in a digital form. This would allow me to quickly select the proper color combinations and easy compositioning.
It did not always go as smooth as expected though. One of the things I did not assess well was the opacity of some acrylic paints. Which resulted in covering most parts of the painting with three layers of acrylic paint. And my pursuit of a clean illustrative style ensured that I sometimes got lost in the details.
Despite the very extensive process I am very grateful for the rare opportunity of being commissioned to deliver such a large painting in such an early stage of the my art career.