Fleur Ouwerkerk

FLEUR OUWERKERK: “AT THE AGE OF FIVE MY FATHER FOUND A PLACE IN HEAVEN, AND MY GRANDFATHER BECAME THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN MY LIFE. HE, AS AN ARTIST INTRODUCED ME TO PAINTING, LINOLEUM AND DRAWING AT A VERY YOUNG AGE.”

Artist Fleur Ouwerkerk a.k.a. Bromtji likes to investigate the relationship between appearance and identity in her work. She is interested in behavior, ethnicity and eccentricity and the classical ideal of beauty in different societies. You can now read all about her!


How has your attitude towards fashion, art and design changed as you’ve aged? How so? And what do you find lacking?

The older I get, the more I care about ‘quality above quantity’ in fashion. I now know what suits my body best, and because my style is consistent (enough), I can invest in high quality materials, brands and shapes to freestyle into different looks for the coming years. I wish more people would shop this way, because it worries me, how in some stores as Primark, Zara and H&M, the process from a design to a piece of clothing instore is less then 2 weeks! Only to be worn by the consumer a few times before it falls apart, and gets thrown away because of the little love and attention it was made with. Not to forget the circumstances in these producing factories.

Ever since I was a teenager I organized wardrobe sales, I name(d) them ‘KLEREfeestje’ and I really make it a small party. After cleaning my closet (which I do a lot) I donate items to goodwill and the thriftshop, and the dimes that are left, I sell for a nice price. This way other people can still enjoy the items that are usually good-as-new, to give them a second (or 3rd/../..) life, and I’m left with some money to invest in ‘new’ wardrobe-additions. Both me and the buyer are happy this way. I also love to visit thrift shops to look for pre-loved hidden treasures for myself to combine with my high fashion pieces. Like I would wear a 2 euro short scored at the thriftshop, combined with a Margiela top. Art and design have been major interests ever since I was little. Being an artist myself, I think it’s very important to visit other artists exhibitions and studio’s as much as I can. Where before, the younger me would only go to museum exhibitions, I now visit musea, galleries, art-fairs or other art spaces.

Can you tell us three designers that you find inspiring and why?

Marianne Vanderwilt, with her brand ‘Vanderwilt’, is based in Amsterdam but still unknown to a lot of people. Aspecially from my generation, which is a real shame. All of her designs are executed in leather. By moulding on the body she creates the shapes and designs for her collections. I’m mostly in love with her Signature Scarf, that comes in all colors of the rainbow, I personally started collecting the two darkest colors she has, black and grey, lol. With these scarves she uses the shape of the skin as it is, and then cuts out a pattern, which shows when the scarf is hanging. They become softer when you wear them and with their patterns they look like wearable art. She also teamed up with Margreeth Olsthoorn (Rotterdam) and together they carry the collection ‘Olsthoorn Vanderwilt’. Raw, edgy and again, all leather. She is currently changing her showroom at the Geldersekade in Amsterdam into a store, so I think we should keep our eyes open for the official opening!

Atelier Loza Maléombho, by Loza Maléombho. She blends Ivorian tribal aesthetics together with New York’s urban fashion in an amazing way. Her AW15 collection is my fav! I felt this collection was very groundbreaking in shaping silhouettes. And then the lookbooks with her showing the collection, is some next-level ish! (sorry my excitement is changing my tone, I’m gonna try to stay cool). Her fashion designs feel like art, and I want to wear it to become one with. To cut a knit, and tie it together with some created space in between….just whoa! I discovered that Fenty x Puma was recently also very ‘inspired’ by this.

Growing up in the same town, I got a glimpse on Ivania Carpio’s journey to where she is now, and there hasn’t been a moment where her vision, talent and resourcefulness failed to inspire me. Well known for her blog; ‘love aesthetics’, there’s also the ‘love aesthetics aetelier’. Inventive, minimalistic, pure, whites, grey’s and blacks with occasionally a splash of colour. This gorgeous human being, and her family (that is just as gorgeous) eat, breathe and live the aesthetic life as it shows on her blog and Instagram page. It became the lifestyle, their way of living. she’s not scouting locations to curate her wall. She just chooses a spot in her home, which is an artwork itself. I remember years ago she was experimenting the sustainability of COS cape-top, and reinventing looks around that top, wearing it a certain amount of days in a row, Her practice is not just aesthetically, this woman has a story to tell.

Name three countries you think were most special to travel to and why?

South-Africa is on the top of my list of countries to visit. In the past years I’ve had the pleasure to meet some amazing souls from Jo-Burg, Durban and Capetown such as Trevor Stuurman and Zanele Muholi. They, and some digital-friends I’ve made over the years on Instagram told me I HAVE to go there, even though I already felt the need and urge myself. I think it is a very inspiring country in both art and fashion. But I’m also interested in it’s colonial past, the current colonial-hangover and the apartheid-aftermath.

One of the cities I loved to visit myself was Recife in Brazil. I got to enjoy the lovely weather, the Ocean, Pre-Carnaval street party’s with Maracatu bands, and very important to me, their delicious food and drinks! Before I went, a lot of people warned me about all the possible danger, but I think the right mind set and trying not to look like a tourist too much, made me feel very safe at all time. Where on holidays I love to create some nice accessorized summed looks, In Brazil I had to really tone it down, and wore simple outfits, not trying to attract too much attention (which is actually very difficult with my hairstyle).

I was traveling with my boyfriend and we  were very lucky that a local (friend of a friend) took us to some cities and spots we otherwise would have never ended up. It was just us and the locals, no other tourists to be found. When people asked us for directions in the second week it felt like a mission accomplished!

And a little bit closer to home, I fell in love with Greece last year! It’s amazing islands and aesthetics. Literally every wall is asking to be photographed. The crispy-white architecture, in contrast with the picture-perfect blue dea’s and sandy landscapes. And not to forget the way they make a tomato, olive, piece of feta cheese taste like heaven! Yes, food makes me very happy! And wherever I go, I love to taste everything I’ve never seen or tried before.

With this blog we want to create awareness around topics like gender, identity and diversity. Do you take these topics in account in your work, if so can you tell us how?

The search for the connection of identity and looks is the no.1 subject in my art. How identity shows in the exterior, the visible. And how a person decides to carry her or himself. I’m fascinated by people in general, I am interested in ethnicity, human behavior, body-movement, perception of beauty, beauty-ideals and eccentricity. On my website I state:

“I identify myself with the transforming abilities of a chameleon. If I change my look, I feel different, as if I become somebody else. I like to become somebody else every now and then.”

In my art I show the world my idea about beauty, unbothered by society’s ‘rules’. I see beauty in those who dare to stand out, in those who accept who they are and love who they are and what they look like, no matter what colour , race, gender or shape.

Digital technology and globalization ensure that the creative sector is subject to strong changes. What do you think these changes will look like? What tends to keep you up at night?

I’m not afraid of the changes that are happening in digital technology or globalization. I’d rather look at the positive aspects. Like how through Instagram I’m in contact with artists who without modern technology I might have never met  otherwise. For me it opened a lot of doors already, with visibility in my art, modeling jobs, and other projects and jobs. I use Instagram as a marketing tool to market my qualities and talents, and get inspired by other people’s pages. The amount of inspiration out there is immense! And in other aspects as well, I don’t like what I see while watching the news, but at least I know what is going on in other parts of the world ( that is, what the news-channels decide to share of course). Worldwide attention can benefit dealing with injustice in some parts of the world.

There’s a South Park episode that I love (Yes I said it, and yes I’m gonna actually tell you about it), It’s the one where they travel though time, to the future where they find out that the whole world’s population is so mixed, that there is eventually 1 skin colour (the mix of all skin colours combined), and they speak one language (the mix of all languages combined). I’d say, look it up ;). Part of me hopes that’s what it will actually be like, because that would take away discrimination and racism. But then the loss of cultures, of uniqueness, of self-expression and everything else, would be horrible.

Who has impacted your life the most and how so?

My grandfather is the no.1 person that impacted my life the most. At the age of five my father found a place in heaven, and my grandfather became the most important man in my life. He, as an artist introduced me to painting, linoleum and drawing at a very young age. Going to my grandmother and grandfather’s house, my creative energy explodes into a lot of try-outs and artworks. My grandfather found a spot in heaven next to my father while I was in high school. Right at the time when we were working on lino-cuts and prints at school. Since my grandfather has made some A-MA-ZING prints I was really hoping for his guidance and expertise. Because he wasn’t able to help me anymore, I was struggling really hard, and only touched the material again during my study Bachelor of Fine Art. I love the smell of linoleum, because it reminds me of him. And just last week while I was visiting my grandmother I took a un-used part of his linoleum, from his atelier that is still intact, home. Going though his lino-prints, I felt so inspired! I’m gonna find a way to use the technique for my mixed media portraits. It was impossible not to get inspired by my grandfather, his amazing soul, his happiness, his creativity and talent, the way he could see the beauty of almost anything! His eye for detail, his love for nature, his taste of music, and his playfulness. I’m so lucky to have had him as my grandfather, and my art will always be an hommage to him!

How would you describe your relationship with clothing?

No matter where I go I like to put effort in what to wear. Also I love to dress up for a opening, dinner or for whatever other reason or occasion. My mom and I once had a conversation about her owning a lot of nice clothes, but is always wearing old comfy stuff, because she feels she has no reason to wear fancy stuff. She told me she was inspired with how I dress like I’m going to attend a party every day, and I told her, I love the feeling that wearing an amazing outfit gives me. Why only save that for certain occasions, when you can literally celebrate your wardrobe, the different pieces with stories to tell. I think that’s my advice to you reading this. Funk up your mood with that item you still haven’t worn yet because you were waiting for the right occasion. F*ck that! turn on some nice music, vibe to that, put on your fun clothes and enjoy life!