Leon Keer is mind-meltingly good at painting. His ability to paint such realistic 3D imagery both on a huge scale outdoors and much smaller scale in his studio is just astonishing. We’ve been fans of the Netherlands-based artist for a long time so we were really happy when he said he’d be up for doing an interview with us.
When you did your first 3D mural did you envision that 10 years later you’d be spending most of the year travelling around the world painting them for all kinds of people? Or that there was even a chance that could even be a job?
Traveling around the globe was always high on my list. Because I could have never imagined that by making murals I would also be able to see so many places, I actually studied Tourism instead of the arts. You never know which decision in life will cause the right effect you want.
How do you shrink your mind when you come inside from the massive pavement murals to doing studio work like the Dinky police van? Is it hard to think small?
Nice question, most people ask me how can you think this big and you are painting with only this sketch on A4 paper in your hand. For me it is equally balanced, I can set my mind to focus on a big wall or on a smaller scale canvas in studio. The only thing I need to do when I am in my studio for a longer period is the make sure I do some kind of sports activities to keep the body in good condition.
How does your style/technique change from outside to inside work?
My art outside, on larger scale murals or floor anamorphic floor paintings, is often only to be seen correctly from one specific viewpoint. My mind is also on that spot as my body is busy working on the wall or floor. I believe that’s all training. If you work more often like this, your brain and senses will adapt to that situation. That’s another level compared to the studio work where I can sit down and set my mind at ease.
What’s the weirdest commission you’ve ever had?
The job in Switzerland from last year. Maybe weird is not the right expression but that job definitely got stuck in my brain as a worthwhile memory. We had to hike 300 meters with all our scaffolding material, paints etc. to reach the 2500 meter high building where we had the nicest view of the Alps mountain range you could ever have while working. My jobs in Japan are always a bit weird. Every time I look up from my work there are lots of people staring at me. You can start to feel like you are a monkey in the zoo doing some kind of strange trick for them. There is an assistant there for everything, one guy will bring you to the toilet, the other will get you a sandwich and another one just busy not falling asleep.
How often do birds poop on a piece as you’re halfway through it?
I get the idea that birds love my work. They show their appreciation by flying around the artwork and observing from a distance.
Do you see yourself as an artist that’s great at maths or a mathematician who’s great at painting?
The maths is just a technique. Of course you need a big perspective on mathematics and need some spacial awareness but every technique can be mastered if you have the patience and perseverance to learn and evolve yourself. I use several perspective techniques to create my art, but the stories behind them are caught in my imagination and inspired from the the issues I have to deal with and happiness I encounter.
Where can we see more of your work?
The art I create on the street is temporary. I love it that way. You have to be there to witness why it is there. At the moment I am busy with a 3D mural in Bordeaux, France and after that I have a lot more explorations around the world. I still have another six of them to go this year. There is a map on my website, right here, where you can find all the spots I worked on some art. And for the upcoming art projects best to follow me on Instagram.
Interview: Josh Jones