Artist Interview | Tom Herck

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

I grew up in a creative environment, my father is an artist. I was raised by my single mother in a neighbourhood with a high blue-color crime rate and not a lot of opportunities. In my mid and late 20’s I had a leading role in the underground football culture, arranging illegal group fights in streets and forests. Attracted to ‘outsider’ cultures I was active in the illegal graffiti scene as well, which formed my artistic foundation.

In search of my identity I started to travel all over the world. In the beginning I combined my travels with graffiti actions around Europe, painting metro’s and trains over the continent. Highly motivated though almost broke, I was forced to sleep in trains and sometimes on the street. One of my highlights in this period was going to New York to paint the subway system. Due to some legal issues, I stopped my illegal activities and started to focus on murals, later my desire grew to evolve to a more sophisticated art form. Nowadays I’m most famous for big installations in public space.


How has the pandemic affected you, your artwork and day to day?


I believe as a professional artist you are always in one way or another in quarantine and disconnected to the world. The big change for me is that some exhibitions got canceled and I wasn't able to create large-scale outdoor installations where truly makes my blood pumping and heart beat. But creativity thrives under hard or uncertain conditions.

If you have a will, there is always a way.

The first summer of the pandemic I threw quite some -small!- BBQ’s and maybe had a few too many drinks. Now, I’m spending more time in nature.

There is a positive side to everything.


How has your working process changed during the pandemic, what is your working method?

I love to generate huge projects with a lot of people involved, going from architects, engineers and entrepreneurs. I turned further into “myself”now. Because my work is multidisciplinary -ranging from drawings and paintings to sculptures and installations- I currently concentrate more on studio works.


I reflect more on that side, take my time and dig deeper into my indoor work.

My Decay series evolved a lot because of it.



Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work


Vanity, Decay and nostalgia are recurrent themes in my work, reflecting both on our past and our present society.


Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? What is your most essential tool?


My brain. I like to delve deep into concepts. I like to spend hours thinking and walking around in my studio visualising projects and works, and try everything within my reach to realise my ideas. My brain is active non stop. I like to dig into history, the human condition and politics. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts at least 6 hours a day, often while I am working in my studio, it gives me insight and inspiration.


What do you feel the role of artists and photographers is in society?


As visual artists we play with the visual. Our job is to make people “look” at things in another way. To open up the mind by creating our own vision and language.



Exhibiting artwork physically is currently a challenge, have you any projects or goals you are working towards?


I’m opening a new 1250 square meter studio in the place where I was born. It is going to be a “level up” in my career, I’m quite busy with that at the moment. Also for the future I am working on some international projects.

Several exhibitions are coming up in the next few months, and I’m going to present a Bronze statue in collaboration with my gallery, which I’m working on for some time now.


Another piece of monumental size will be released soon as well. For me personally this piece takes my work to another symbolic and technical level demonstrating high technical skills using non-traditional materials never previously used.



http://www.tomherck.com/decay-works-2016

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