Utrecht Kunst

Interview. Roos van der Meijs

Roos van der Meijs is a visual artist from the Netherlands. After graduating with a BS in Creative Media and Game Technologies, she swapped her drawing tablet for oil sticks. She explores the intricacies of her own mental health journey.
Roos van der Meijs

This results in vibrant compositions in which childlike elements are combined with surrealistic portraits within an explorative space tinged with subtle darkness. Roos invites viewers to a realm of introspective play and exploration, embracing the coexistence of sadness and joy.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became a painter?
I’ve been drawing and creating for as long as I can remember; it’s a core part of me, and very early on, I knew I wanted to pursue a creative career. However, for a long time, I wasn’t entirely sure what that would look like. I thought pursuing a career in the game industry would be a fitting way to put my art skills to use. Unfortunately, this caused me to burn out. I realized that using my art skills in a very corporate way wasn’t going to make me happy. While recovering, I spent time figuring out what made me love art in the first place. It was a journey of reconnecting with my childhood and figuring out what it was that I loved back then. I felt a strong need to reconnect to a core part of myself in a world that felt chaotic. Because I wanted to feel more grounded in myself and my practice, I decided to eventually switch my digital drawing tablet to more traditional media. Experimenting, exploring, and getting messy with paints, oil pastels, and eventually oil sticks It was a journey of healing and rediscovering my love for creating that I eventually found in painting.

Are there specific themes or subjects that you find yourself drawn to in your artwork?
In my practice, I’m exploring subjects close to me personally. I like to call my works „inner spaces“ because the things I make reflect how I experience my internal world. One of the things that drives me most is my childhood. As a child, I was caught up in my world as well as games, movies, and TV. I used those elements and put them together in my drawings without thinking, I didn’t feel the need to make things prettier or more refined. I try to use that approach in my art nowadays as well, resulting in a combination of childlike elements in contrast to my love of drawing portraits. Another thing that heavily influences my art is my mental health journey. From a distance, my paintings appear very bright and colorful, and they are, but there’s also always a bit of sadness or anger in them as well. I like to explore the coexistence of happiness and sadness in a world where we’re often supposed to only show a bright side. I strongly believe that to be happy, we need sadness, and vice versa, they complement each other. In a way, it’s also an exploration of me coming to terms with my imperfections, that things don’t need to be one or the other, they can exist together. Even though I find that hard to come to terms with in real life, I like to explore the nuances of this in my practice as well.

As an artist from the Netherlands, do you find any cultural influences or elements from your surroundings that manifest in your art?
No, I’m not specifically inspired by the country I live in. However, I am deeply inspired by the fusion of the real world with the digital world that we start to see more and more. As a child I used to play a lot of games, I also used to make up worlds inside my head and then there was of course the real world. In my work, I combine these three spaces, the digital world, the inner world, and the outer world. I’m constantly exploring all these worlds and in my work, I pick out and play with elements to create compositions.

What role does experimentation play in your artistic process?
Experimentation is what drives my art. I used to be very afraid of trying out new things, but by doing it a lot and often I’ve become more familiar with the process. I think experimenting is also what thrills me about making art. It’s being on that edge of not knowing what the work is gonna look like that makes it exciting. I also can’t be in my comfort zone for too long, after a while it makes me restless. I think I automatically gravitate toward experimentation no matter what because it keeps things fresh and exciting.

Artist. Roos van der Meijs

How do you use social media or online platforms to showcase your art? 
Social media plays a big part in my presence as an artist. I love how it makes art accessible to almost anyone. It’s also a great way to connect with my audience. I don’t just get to share my art but also a part of me as a person, of my everyday life. It feels very personal and close. I don’t want people to see art as a big intimidating thing. I want them to see that art is supposed to be fun, an exploration and adventure that literally anyone can pursue or enjoy. I think it’s a great way to connect on a deeper level. Because of my autism interacting with people in person takes up a lot more energy, with social media as my main platform I’m able to have a connection with my audience in a way that works really well for me.

Artist. Roos van der Meijs
Artist. Roos van der Meijs

How important are exhibitions for your artistic career and development? Are you planning more exhibitions in the future?
I think exhibitions can be a great way to have people interact and see my work in real life. However, I don’t see it as a main part of my practice right now. I love focusing on my online presence while I’m still exploring what it is that I love to make.

Roos van der Meijs – www.roosvandermeijs.com, www.instagram.com/roosvandermeijs/