Jim Klok’s drawings are the perfect balance of expression and refinement
The Amsterdam-based artist creates works which feel like a still frame from something moving, compiling imagery from his everyday life.
- Ruby Boddington
- 6 February 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
As a child, Jim Klok recognised he had an interest in illustration, “because people’s styles are easy to recognise,” he tells us. “It’s sort of a language you start to learn.” Having grown up in a small provincial town in the Netherlands where “there was quite a scene of people that got into skateboarding, graffiti, hanging out outside – all that good stuff,” he now lives in Amsterdam, and is due to graduate from the graphic design course at the Gerrit Reitveld Academy later this year.
Despite his early interest in the medium, Jim doesn’t describe what he does today as illustration. “I always feel I’m just compiling imagery that comes from different things I’m doing. Sort of like a collage,” he says. This collaged feel is only furthered by the fact that Jim often switches between materials and media. “I very much enjoy switching between analogue and digital ways of working, and trying to combine them,” he adds.
This comes from an interest in “the way textures collide.” By working with myriad techniques and media, Jim creates dynamic pieces in which shapes fill the frame, almost spilling off the edge of the paper. “In my drawings I’m really focussed on the flow, the rhythm, the energy and creating a certain movement,” he says. “For me, an image is successful when it feels like a still frame from something moving.”
In terms of its themes, Jim’s work has its roots in pop art and he often references logos or cultural tropes. “The challenge is just to obscure them so that they all fit together,” he says. “It’s like trying to overhear a specific conversation within a big group of people talking. All the little conversations people are having make together this mess of sound.” In turn, there’s a certain familiarity to the drawings Jim creates, balanced perfectly with a surprising and fresh aesthetic.
Recently, he’s been working a lot with pastels, too. “I never used them before, but I always loved how they looked so I figured that I should just try it,” he says. Every day, he starts without a plan and works on two to three drawings at one time with them spread out next to each other on the floor or the wall. This way, he can keep switching between the compositions, getting some distance from one and coming back to it with fresh eyes.
As someone currently studying graphic design, Jim’s more expressive and abstract works sometimes blur into considered graphic works. For example, when creating a poster for his class’ exhibition in Zurich, he created a custom typeface and used a set of Illustrator brushes he was developing at the time. “For me, it was a nice synthesis of making something very applied but using my own tools,” he says. “I used to have this thought in my head that I could never have autonomy for something applied like an event poster, but this experience helped me think differently about that. It’s a great feeling to use tools that are still experimental and unfinished for projects like this.”
This sentiment seems to encapsulate what is so unique about Jim’s works: there’s a looseness to them but, at the time, they possess a sense of control and refinement. And while he clearly exhibits expressive and potentially disparate elements, there are clear and plain ideas at play, providing a succinctness to Jim's portfolio, a thread to follow throughout his works.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.