Telmo Miel are muralist and image-making duo from the Netherlands, Telmo Miel is Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann. They have worked together since meeting at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam in 2007, officially becoming Telmo Miel in 2012. Their murals are both surreal and realistically rendered, with a tremendous amount of detail and vibrant color. Able to work fairly seamlessly, their styles have combined to such an extent that they’re able to execute multiple areas in tandem, exchanging places and completing each other’s work. They often execute their pieces on a monumental scale, creating huge architecturally sized spray-paint paintings on building façades. Combining multiple elements in a single composition, they layer references to the human and animal worlds to create complex creatures and fantastic scenarios. With positivity, humor and a touch of the romantic, their work is arresting and epic.
Thinkspace Gallery in collaboration with Berlin’s Urban Nation, is pleased to present DUO, a group exhibition featuring works by internationally acclaimed contemporary art duos. The following is an exclusive Sour Harvest interview with duo, Telmo Miel.
How did you two first meet and decide to collaborate together?
We met each other on the first day of the academy in Rotterdam in 2006. Both being kind of quiet guys, we found each other quite fast and got to talking about art and painting. I (Miel) was painting graffiti for a couple of years before the academy and suggested Telmo to paint a wall together to see if it would work. We painted a first collaborative mural in Amersfoort (Holland) and from that point forward we started working together on almost every wall, growing more in tune with each other each passing year.
What inspires you or where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in fighting the idea of being alive without a certain purpose. If I don’t paint, I don’t feel like I’m alive. Painting makes the mind escape into process and gives it the opportunity to evolve. Without practice nothing evolves, so the need to paint never stops.
Thematically we choose to work with subjects like children, who represent a certain innocence and playful view on their new world; which is also something we as painters we try to maintain in creating.
But we never stick to just one subject or theme, as we find beauty in almost every aspect of the world, within reality and the surreal.
How do you two work through conflict when creating a cohesive vision?
Exactly like that, we work through it. Working in duo form only functions if the egos aren’t too big and if you can explain your personal vision well enough to the other artist/partner. I think Telmo and myself have that aspect almost down to perfection. We can have big discussions on why something works or doesn’t, why something is good or isn’t. But in the end, it’s about making a choice at that moment in time, believing in that choice and both being happy with that choice. If it doesn’t work in the end, there’s always the next one.
What is your process for collaborating, does one artist do xyz and the other abc? Please elaborate.
We are both able to work on every part of every piece. On murals we will switch places a bunch of times and then switch back if we want to. We’ve been working together almost 10 years now and our styles and technique have come together a lot. Though this doesn’t take away from the fact that we still have our own flavor and opinion. We have room for that freedom of thinking and developed a multi-layered style that allows us to work together on one piece, but still are able to put in our own individual vision in one of the two layers that makes up our final piece. Sometimes we use this in the form that I explained, sometimes we use it to our individual advantage in painting canvases. As a lot of the canvases we do are individual pieces.
Do you remember your first wall? Or have a good story to share from when you were doing a mural together…
The first wall was the one in Amersfoort I spoke of before. We went to the free wall spot near the tracks and started on a grey/red graffiti wall with characters and styles. It was a great first test and a lot of fun. But a good story… ehhh Telmo?
A wall that we will never forget for sure is the one we did in Loose Creek, Missouri for the Robertson’s Family. Most walls we did were in cities, but we ended up painting a barn in the middle of nowhere. A great quiet scenery with the smell of wet grass and turkey poop.
Painting a mural was a bizarre thing to do there, so everybody had to come by and have a peek. After a few days we met them all; cops, pastor, local newspapers, school kids, teachers, neighbours, the family of the neighbours. And don’t forget the Robertson’s with just 14 grandchildren!
If you could live in a movie for a day, what would it be? Would you be yourself or a specific character?
Miel: I would be a zookeeper at Jurassic Park for sure, can’t say otherwise.
Telmo: STAR WARS for sure! I still would be doing murals in the streets but in a galaxy far, far away…
Anything else you would like to share? Next big project?
We’ve got a couple of things on schedule, like painting a whole subway station in Norway in April. Some very cool mural festivals in Ukraine, France and one really nice wall in Portugal that we will paint with our friend and graffiti artist Pariz. Besides the murals we’ll be spending a bunch of time in the studio working on new paintings and concepts for upcoming exhibitions.
View new works from the duo Telmo Miel during our opening reception for “DUO” Saturday, February 27th from 6 -9 pm. For additional information on the exhibit please visit Thinkspace Gallery’s website; if you’d like to receive a preview of the show make sure to sign up for the Thinkspace Gallery mailing list.