#Captain’sQuarters: Thijs Biersteker

Above all, art is meant to make the person experiencing it feel a certain way, and the work of Dutch creative Thijs Biersteker certainly does that.

We previously wrote about his Plastic Reflectic installation, in which the participant watches their reflection materialize in ocean trash to help spread awareness for cleaning our oceans. In our latest #Captain’sQuarters interview we had the pleasure of chatting with the talented Dutchman about his definition of art, his inspirations and passions, installation art and creating projects that are human-centered.

The man describes himself as  “A multidisciplinary creative with a entrepreneurial itch,” and we’re inclined to agree. So check out our exclusive interview with the man below, and enjoy!


Welcome aboard, Thijs! We’re well and truly honored to have you with us.

 Thank you. The honour is all mine.

Art as a whole is a tricky subject matter to nail down as it has many, if not infinite, definitions and interpretations — so how do you define art?

 I’m not going to burn myself on that one.  But as an artist and designer I think art should reflect the times and its tides. I believe that it’s our job to show options and provoke thought. I believe interaction and wonderment by technique is the best way to communicate these messages. I think provoking interaction by kinitec and interactive installations will make the spectators a part of my work and the message.

What was the first hobby or interest that you fell in love with and how has it influenced your multidisciplinary work?

 I surf. And What I love about that is the uncertainty the sea brings, you never really know what kind of wave the sea throws at you. I love that unexpectedness and try to build that into every project I do. There is nothing more boring than knowing the outcome. I hope to see that when we strech the bounderies of diciplines, you get these unexpected results, movements when things collide and slide.

You’ve done a bit of everything, including creating one of my favorite commercials (the Bond one), so we’re curious as to which area of your work is your favorite and what about that discipline makes it particularly enjoyable for you.

 Ha, you’re right!  I love work that communicates boldly and beautifully, thats why I started as an art director at Wieden + Kennedy. I learned a lot, but also lost a lot of my passion for making things. Later as my side projects started getting more interesting, and bigger, I lost my intrest in doing big global campaigns for brands. Now I often get asked to build installations for brands and that is kind of becoming a thing I like doing besides my own projects.  Those always come first.

Do you generally have a go-to routine when it comes to your creative process, or is each session a completely new experience?

 I love to be surprised in every process — if I know whats coming, it’s boring. If I want people to be stunned by the work, I have to be that first. But I kind of use a trick that works for me. Just before I go to sleep I envision the topic or the challenge for my new projects and the next morning (after coffee) I kind of have the solution. My brain seems to do a lot of the work at night….

Creating “human-centered” work is more important now than ever and your installations certainly achieve that goal. What have the reactions to your installations been like and what’s the most satisfying part of creating these pieces?

 I like to use reflection as a tool to hold up alternative scenarios or provoke thought. I think when you interact with a giant mist cloud (periscopista) or you get reflected in dirty ocean plastic (plastic reflectic)  you kind of become one with the subject by interaction and reflection — putting us humans in the center. I love to just sit somewhere in the corner and see people experience the kinectic installations I make, everyone seems to go through the same phases.  First they are stunned and surprised, then they try to figure out how it works and the most fun part to see is people that start to push the bounderies, testing what can this thing do…

As a massive football fan, I really enjoyed advertisement featuring Wesley Sneijder. So let’s shift to footy for a moment — what’s your favorite team and do you view the game through the lens of an artist or a fan?

 Ha, sorry I prefer to surf. I like the football game, not specific teams. The complexity, strategy and ego collisions on the field of football are amazing… but the same goes for every sport — except Petanque. Petanque is the best. Not as good as surf, but good.

What’s an art medium you’d really like to explore and what about it intrigues you?

 I like it when I have a well-educated guess how something is going to look or interact, but when you see it I’m as stunned as the people next to me. I think the unexpected bits of these interactive installations as a medium are the bits that make it special.  Kind of just like humans.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about upcoming personal projects?

 I will be doing a videoclip for a artist that is more of a videoclip machine in VR. I’m really excited the mixture between installation and VR.

Off topic again — who’s your favorite superhero?

 My grandpa. We had his last water pistol fight at 94 years old. That makes Batman a wuss.

How has the multilingual culture in the Netherlands influenced you as a creative?

 The multilangual side of the Netherlands seems to decline rapidly. This worries me and fuels me as a creative. I once made a machine that you can experience a refugees’ journey from Iran to the Netherlands in VR.

You had to run on a treadmill and use VR — you took the journey a real refugee had to take to get here. The interviews and stories we heard whilst building the installation has opened my eyes and I hope to make more of these projects that could counterbalance the image the media and politicians are painting of them.

A bit off the wall, but if you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?

 I’m a Dutchie. Saying anything else than white bread with old cheese would be lying.

Who are some of your favorite artists, past and present, and what about their work inspires you?

 I love the ’90s group of the Beautiful losers, Thomas Campbell, Margret Kilgallen, Barry McGee and many more for their pure aesthetics. I admire the building style of the Amsterdamse school with Michel de Klerk leading my charts with his “Ship“being the best thing to look at. I, at least, try to walk there once a month.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives, entrepreneurs and those who just want to make a difference in some way?

 Do it, and do it now. I think we as makers can show that design and art can provoke thought, and give perspective in a time that that seems to become more rare. I think having a solid idea is good for art, products design and everything else. Make sure your idea is bold, understandable and add the beauty in the way you express that idea.


There you have it, folks! If you’re interested in impacting the world or making something that stirs up people’s emotions and gets them thinking then there’s only one thing to do: just get out and do it. Massive thanks again to Thijs for taking the time to chat with us, and we look forward to seeing his latest work!

Speaking of which, you can keep up with his projects on his website, his Behance, Twitter and Instagram. That’s it for this edition of #Captain’sQuarters, stay tuned to see who we get aboard the ship next time!

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