While most street artists usually choose old train tracks, abandoned buildings, or bridges to exhibit their masterworks, Dutch street artist Jan Is De Man has chosen an unusual and original route by displaying his masterpieces where communities want to connect.
His goal is pretty clear – to produce art “where everyone can identify themselves.”
Jan Is De Man’s latest work of art is a tri-level trompe l’oeil wall mural bookcase on an apartment building in Utrecht, Netherlands.
His fellow street artist Deef Feed helped him on this project and together they managed to transform the apartment building into a realistic giant bookcase. Jan and Deef also own a tattoo shop named “Blackbook Tattoos,” which is located in the center of Utrecht.
Jan explained that the location for the giant mural came before the concept. He said:
“I know the people who live on the ground floor very well. They’ve wanted a mural by my hand for a while. They also wanted to let me feel free in my design as long as it would bring something positive to their neighborhood. The first idea was to paint a smiley. A huge smiley. Because I believe people become happier when they see a smiley every day. But this idea didn’t feel complete, and it felt too simple.”
After observing the wall of the apartment building, Jan came up with the brilliant idea for a tri-level trompe l’oeil mural. He said:
“I studied the shape of the house and the location where this house stands in, and suddenly the idea of making a huge bookcase hit me. I love making 3D art illusions on walls, and I like to see smiles on people’s faces and this idea (I thought meanwhile) could bring all this together.”
An essential part of this project was to involve the residents in the process. Jan said:
“We entered the community by asking people for their favorite books, and we were able to put eight languages and cultures together in the same concept. Everybody, every age, every culture, every language was welcome. The only rule I set up to participate in this art project was: no political books and no religious books. Besides that, every book title was welcome.”
It took both artists one week to make this idea a reality. Jan said:
“I think most of the time the most difficult [part] is to get the right concept, that fits the wall, that fits the neighborhood. But when you got the right idea, then there is not much difficult.”
When Jan was asked about his favorite book title, he replied, “I am really fond of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime written by Mark Haddon. And of course The Playboy.”
The wonderful giant mural serves as an artistic source which brings the neighbors together and it also attracts all types of people wanting to take selfies with it. Jan explained:
“The neighborhood where this work was made is filled with different cultures. And I’ve noticed that this project brought (and hopefully for as long as it lasts) people together without pushing it. They meet each other through books. Regardless of the differences in cultures, regardless of the differences in political point of views. Regardless of being extreme right or extreme left.”
This work of art really is amazing, isn’t it?
When Jan was asked about what’s up next on his list of future plans, Jan responded:
“There is a lot of things coming, but I don’t like to tell plans, because I believe that if you tell your plans they don’t work. It sounds corny, but in the end, actions speak louder than words.”
Well, we have no doubts that he’s going to come up with something brilliant again.