Tue Volder interview with Blacklisted Copenhagen

Tue Volder and his Monkey Madness

Foregoing studies of the sapient for portraits of the simian, illustrator Tue Volder personifies our long lost ancestors in world of monkey madness

Published: January 31, 2017Words: J. Scott Stratton & AM DeBrincatArtist Link: www.amdebrincat.com

Afew years back, I struck on a collaborative adventure with nine different illustrators and visual artists for a charity event. Unfortunately, the production was far larger than I anticipated, and without any backing or funding, I was forced to come to the grim reality that I had bitten off far more than I could handle. With head sunk in shame, I approached watch of the artists, to inform then that the project had met it untimely end.

One of those artists, was illustrator Tue Volder, a long-time city boy from the Nørrebronx, whose definitive ape caricatures resemble a simian version of Alfred E. Neuman—and if you’re unsure who that is, pick up an issue of Mad magazine.

Growing up with pen in his hand and love for illustrators Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Don Martin and Sergio Aragonez—all early contributing artists to MAD magazine during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s—Volder’s work is highly character driven, but with a similar sense of lighthearted humor and satire that was a facet of his role models.

Following the path that many illustrators and artists take, he spent his formative years exploring other passions and similar creative fields of knowledge-music being the his main driving focus while his illustration became a craft he utilized for commercial and financial purposes. After landing a job as a concept artist, a shift occurred where art then became his bread-and-butter thing, and his passion for making music took a backseat.

After leaving music behind this personal monkey universe started taking form. I began focusing on developing my own voice that had been dorment or maybe in fact never truly was. So i would have creative panic attacks and an artistic identity crisis until i fell into drawing monkeys. That’s when it all clicked.

Tue Volder interview with Blacklisted Copenhagen

Where did the reference to the monkeys come from? When did that become a prominent thing in your work?

It came about slightly as a coincidence. I had posted online some monkey illustrations that I created, which got a good response and were sold quickly. That prompted a friend of mine, who ran a small but very cool and dedicated graffiti gallery, to suggest making a monkey themed solo show. Once I got down to working, intensely and concentrated on just exploring that universe, I felt an ease and enjoyment of creating. I found that I loved making them because of their ability to make everything from a ridiculous to a heartfelt caricature of a human persona.

That one word ”monkey” became the foundation for endless possibilities. Sometimes I would think up a fun, interesting character or situation and that would guide the choice of art tools and materials, and sometimes a newfound tool would dictate the subject matter of the image. I went on a real journey in my 3×3 meter studio.

Would you say that you let the monkeys tell more personal stories, or do you try to make social commentaries with them?

I prefer to explore fantasy in my pieces. I’d rather not pollute the art with too much filthy realism. Often the clothes and accessories of my characters point to a cliché of a specific era in time, but that’s more a nod to the iconography of that age. I suppose my characters tend to fall into two groups – generic old timey and 70/80’s style skaters and gamers. On top of that I like to mix in some unspecified third eye mysticism.

Tue Volder interview with Blacklisted Copenhagen

Can you tell me a little about the process in which you create one these characters? How does a piece go from idea to inception?

An idea for a piece can land directly in my head or come about by doodling in a sketchbook. From there on it’s pretty straight forward: Idea, rough sketch, refining the sketch, ink and watercolour on paper or paint on canvas. Or a mix of them all.

Think, Sketch, Paint, Repeat.

I also work with a process by drawing directly on paper with ink and paint and seeing what happens. It’s a much more raw and energetic style that’s really healthy for my overthinking personality.

Ideawise, I find that just lying on my back with my eyes closed in the silence and darkness is the best way of opening my third eye and forming visions of characters and scenarios. Sadly I’m just as caught up in the hurried modern society rat race as everyone else, so this is not an everyday process for me at all. Although, now I’m thinking about it, I think I should make it one.

Do you work in larger series of work—with concepts that span across multiple pieces? Or is each piece a stand-alone concept?

Lately, I’ve begun thinking of building part of my thing into more of a world, where my favourite characters from earlier work recur. I’ve also outlined a story where the main character comes from an earlier painting. And on his journey he might come across other steady characters.