Sven Signe den Hartogh ventures onwards

Features, Uncategorized January 17, 2016

‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ – Steve Jobs

Sven came crashing in guns blazing and inked to the eyeballs. This rebel decided he wanted to be a photographer only a year ago (I still remember him being really bouncy about buying his first roll of film) and making a name for himself in a very short amount of time. He is a busy little fucker, not only taking pictures but also throwing some paint at canvasses (and people) in his free time, modelling for denim brands and running a lifestyle blog here and there. About time we had a chat with this busy bee from Holland.

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Hi Sven, how’s it going mate? What have you been up to lately?
Been pretty busy with some new projects, flying out to Ireland next week for a really exciting new project but unfortunately can’t tell you too much about it yet. And really been focussing on creating more and more personal work, I want to extend my portfolio this year with loads of new content. As long it’s either Photography, Painting or Poetry!

Can you tell us a little about yourself? About your background. Where did you grow up? What is your favourite childhood memory?
I grew up in a small but lovely town called Wijk bij Duurstede which is close to Utrecht in the centre of the Netherlands. I grew up in a really open and warm family and my parents always encouraged me in everything that I did. I quit school when I was 17 because it didn’t feel right, I always had trouble following the rules and authority so it was time ‘to fly out.’
I worked at the oldest jeansstore of the Netherlands for a few years, that was pretty amazing! It was there that I learned so much about responsibility, people and life in general. I developed a big love for denim, craft and the lifestyle that comes with it! It had so much inspiration which I wanted to share that I decided to start my own blog called: ‘The Stranded Sailors’ where I shared all my inspiration about this magical journey I was on. Within a year it started to grow, we had a few thousand followers, did events, had our own products, videos etc. We even appeared in newspapers and on national television. It was crazy!

What attracted you to photography?
I was always attracted by it, the captivating aspect of freezing time in a split-second. When I was young I never cared too much about mobile phones, I never really used one but when I bought my first iPhone I suddenly had a really nice camera with me everyday. So then I started wandering and creating street-photo’s and asking people If I could take their portrait but it was just for fun. I didn’t see myself as a photographer back then. It was on a ‘blog-trip’ for ‘The Stranded Sailors’ that I first felt the urge to grab a camera, so I borrowed one from one of my mates that accompanied me and started shooting. It felt so nice and comfortable, enabling me to disappear in a world of my own. After that day I decided to slowly start with photography… and the rest is history I guess?

You dabbled with other media as well, can you tell us a bit about that?
Well, it’s all a extension of the soul! Whether it’s writing poetry or creating a painting… it’s all the same for me. I need to express myself in every way possible in order to live. Haha! It’s quite true!

We read somewhere that you only started taking pictures a year ago, yet you managed to team up with a lovely whiskey brand (amongst others) and are represented by a well know Dutch agency. What is your secret? Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
Hahah that’s true! Well I don’t have a secret other then that I firmly believe in talent, I don’t mean this in an arrogant way but you can’t go to school to obtain a good eye. I believe that in every process of life or creation your gut feeling will always guide you in the right direction. I guess it all comes down to not being afraid to show people what you do.

You are self taught, can you tell us a little about your learning process?
I just did it, for the first 6-10 months I didn’t know what shutter speed / ISO / aperture was and I’m not quite sure I know now… but I had some help from wonderful friends like Edwin van der Sande and Tim Collins, two amazing artists who really helped me getting the hang of the basics. And like I said: just do it, produce a lot and get inspired by nature, books or blogs!

Can you name a few of those sources of inspiration?
There are a few, but one of the biggest influencers is Jim Morrison (doesn’t need a introduction). And why he inspires me, is pretty hard to explain but he’s just completely from another planet, his words, performance, vision, music, poetry… there is nobody like Jim Morrison. For me he’s been really important in terms of where I see myself heading as an artist but also as an individual. A massive inspiration!
Steve Jobs is also a really big influence because as an artist, he was a fantastic visionair, with a beautiful view on what products should be like and his mindset when it came to creation. Loads of people are being negative about him because of his personality, but as an artist he really inspired me.
I also find inspiration in the works of photographers like Saul Leiter (which I will explain later on). Inspiration is one of the biggest gifts in life, to be inspired by someone or something… isn’t that amazing? It keeps it so organic, it’s really a gift from one person to the other.

How do you hope to grow as a photographer?
I really have a feeling that I’m here to do this, I’m here to create and hopefully to inspire. So I’m planning on creating until the day my body will turn into dust. But I really want to grow more and more as an artist in general, being able to always translate my vision, inspiration and composition into the work whether it’s a painting, photograph or a piece of paper. I hope to travel and create more and more for international clients and want to create a bunch of work in terms of books and exhibitions (as some sort of legacy). I’m 23 now so I hope to have a lot more years left to create ;)

What is the best advice you ever had as a photographer?
‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ – Steve Jobs. As in you can be really good in something but you’re never good enough! There is always room for improvement. Keep pushing your own boundaries and setting goals for that will truly awaking your spirit. Don’t settle!

What is your favourite photo book? Why?
Definitely ‘Early Color’ by Saul Leiter. This is and probably always will be my favourite photography book. Because he was just a pioneer in (abstract) photography. In the early 40’s and 50’s he created color work, which was new at that time and it took him a while to be recognized for his personal work. He just created this amazing collection of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen.

You teamed up with ‘The Deer Collective,’ a Dutch fashion designer to launch the ‘The Wayfaring Strangers,’ can you tell us a little bit about that?
Well yeah, Nina van der Meer, the girl behind ‘The Deer Collective’ is my girlfriend so it was pretty easy for us to do something together. We both share a lot of the same interests in different aspects of art and life in general so for us to do something together was just really normal. The Deer Collective is a vintage orientated brand/webshop run by Nina, where she handpicks vintage items before customising them. So ‘The Deer Collective‘ is really her side-project, ‘The Wayfaring Strangers‘ is our shared blog.

Totally off topic, but on my mind ever since I met you, how many tattoos do you have? ;)
I lost count, honestly I have no idea because it’s more about body parts that are covered instead of the amount of individual pieces. It’s all one…

Any famous last words?
‘Be Larger Than Life.’

Thank you!
Thanks a lot for having me! <3

w. svensignedenhartogh.com

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