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VMP Interview with Van Holmgrem

On June 14, 2015

Starting this month we are upgrading things a bit for Vinyl Me, Please members when it comes to the album-inspired art piece of our monthly offering.  Not only are we introducing a new, larger 12"x12" format, but we are also seeking out talented new independent artists to feature.

For the month of July we are pysched to announce Des Moines’ artist Van Holmgren as our visual artist of the month.  We chatted with him recently about how he got into art, the role music plays in his personal creative process and of course, his thoughts on the vinyl resurgence.

**See below for bio + links + artwork

VMP: How did you initially become interested in art?  At what point did you decide to go for it as your primary occupation?

VH: My first memory of appreciating art was looking at cartoons and comic books in awe of how they did it. I would draw Ninja Turtles and Super Mario in first grade and my peers liked them so much they would buy them off of me for like quarters & dollars. So I saw that I could create something and people would want it to belong to them if they liked it enough, it was interesting. I mean I was copying stuff that already existed but doing that taught me about spatial relation and technique along with drawing memory. My sister, who was 12 years older than me, would introduce me to artists in the 1980’s like Basquiat & Keith Haring and older ones like MC Escher and Picasso. She was hip to that then and going to art school in Minneapolis. Being an artist full-time really came into my head the years leading up to high school graduation and I became one in 2008 and have been doing it since. I really enjoy writing as well and creating stories which are incorporated in my gallery shows as I present them as a visual narrative with the name of the show and titles of the pieces.   VMP: When looking at your recent work there are a few themes that stand out: vibrant colors, geometric shapes & classically feminine figures that possess an almost Virgin Mary-like quality of containing all womankind inside of themselves.  Are these themes you are conscious of when working?  Did they come together simultaneously or are they themes to your work that have built upon each other over time?   VH: I’ll start making work for a good two weeks and then I will step back and try to understand what I am getting at. It’s all very obvious to me once I look it over, I can find themes and repeated visuals that I build upon then. The Virgin Mary comparison is pretty spot on but it is in no way Christian or religiously related to any scriptures. It’s more about being enlightened to everything. You have a certain amount of power and confidence once you know what’s going on around you. I like to keep the idea open so people can relate in their own way & find meaning it it for themselves. The mind is something that can take a slight idea and create an individual view from it.


VMP: Do you normally listen to music while you create your art?  Any favorite albums that serve as go-to’s for pushing through tough projects?

VH: It all depends on how I’m feeling that day or if I have some close deadlines. I’ll put some Rap and Hip Hop on if I’m trying to get out of a rut or have to get a lot done, it really pumps me up and I can focus. Beat-driven music always loosens me up for a good painting session. It all depends on the mood I am in or want to feel while making pieces.

As far a albums that are go-to’s for me that I readily use: Any Junior Kimbrough album

Nebraska / Bruce Springsteen It Culls You / The Envy Corps Ready To Die / The Notorious B.I.G. Fleet Foxes / Fleet Foxes Warm Slime / Thee Oh SeesAntidotes / Foals

VMP: Are you a vinyl collector?  If so, what’s the first album you remember purchasing for yourself?

VH: I am not a large vinyl collector, but I have a solid library of albums that I have snagged at shows I have gone to locally or obtained on a trip out of state. I’m definitely looking to expand on my collection in the future. I have quite a few tapes as well.

VMP: What do you make of the resurgence in vinyl?

VH: It’s really refreshing to see that vinyl isn’t going away any time soon. Nothing beats having a physical copy of an album that you can feel and use. Plus the sound quality is how music should really be listened to. You’re supposed to experience this event where you listen to the album and you look down and explore the whole package that comes with the sound accompanying it. I don’t know one person that gets super excited for getting a digital album. Plus going to a record store to explore finding new music is much more exciting.

VMP: A lot of people all over the world are getting a chance this month to confront the artwork of Van Holmgren for the first time – what would you hope they take away from the experience?   VH: Just something fresh for their eyes. I think the best part of being an artist is the ability to display things that were only in your minds and give people a look inside of it. Art is an idea.

VMP: Why do people need art in their lives?

VH: Art is a necessary part of society. We should always have people that look at the world and present it in a new way to others. I always say good art should tell a story and bring ideas out of peoples minds when they view it. Art can change moods and provide therapy to people that need it like a visual prescription for your mind, swallowing with your eyes & such.

VMP: Any albums you think we should consider for our next record of the month?   VH: I wouldn’t dare recommend any albums to you guys. You seem very on top of it when it comes to fresh music :) haha keep up the good work! Bio: Van Holmgren is a full-time artist based out in the US working in the medium of spray paint and hand drawn stencils on found materials. His work deals with rich themes such as: ownership, privacy, missed communication, and subtle romanticism. The juxtaposition of abstract and organic elements narrate a unique world with your own mind. He is never afraid to push his quality of work or evolve his consistent style with each show he does.  Links:

Website: @vanholmgren on INSTAGRAM Facebook: Original artwork by Van Holmgren



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