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Design Academy’s Best I - Tim Enthoven

In one of the most personal projects exhibited, Enthoven has written and illustrated a radical comic book that shows how inaccurate perspective can be if the world around us becomes too small or limited.  Change and the unexpected are the essence of life.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 28-10-2010

The road from dropping out of art school to becoming this year’s winner of the coveted René Smeets Award has been a tough one for Tim Enthoven.

“All my life all I wanted was to be an artist,” Enthoven says.  “From the age of ten to sixteen I was consumed with a desire to become a renaissance artist.”

At home, Enthoven’s achingly romantic dreams were nurtured, and never negated.  “My parents kept me in my bubble and encouraged me,” he says.  “I was very very serious and spent hours in my room designing my castle and painting pictures that my father would help me to exhibit at his bank.  In my world I was living with my geniuses. Da Vinci, for example, was my dueling partner.  I really believed that that was how I would live.”

Vulnerable and talented, Enthoven left his hometown of Gouda for art school at just sixteen.  Reality, however, came crushing in and in the process destroyed the boy’s spirit.  “I thought I was going to a school like the old academies in Paris that I had read about,” he says smiling at his own naivety.  “But of course none of the students at my school even knew what those academies were.  Art students are just not like that now.”

Lost, Enthoven decided design school would be safer.  “Given what happened I think I just wanted to be directed and to have to come up with solutions,” he says.  “I needed something more rational.”

Enthoven’s own past forms the basis of his graduation project, an illustrated comic titled “Indoors”. Via the creative process though a lot has also changed.  “People forget that it isn’t exactly my story and that makes it a bit embarrassing,” he says.  “My father in particular took it very literally.”

The comic is about a young man named Tim.  His life is about control, predictability, and order.  His communication with the outside world is mostly limited to a woman working in a snack bar and even that is carefully controlled.  “He doesn’t have the same sort of expectations as others when it comes to a bowl of rice and chicken,” Enthoven says.

An unexpected call from an old friend suggesting they catch up disrupts Tim’s mental balance and ends up igniting a series of events that send him crashing.  The catch, however, is that it may just have been the crash he needed. He ends up giving birth (literally) to new feelings forcing him to leave his unrealistic cage (where sixteen year old boys could become renaissance artists).  

Enthoven’s illustrations are ordered and simple revealing much about how Tim sees the world.  Things are boxed, restrained and always arranged.  There is a regularity as well as an unnatural control to it all.

A graduation project usually should not take more than six months.  “I told the school from the start that I’d need a year,” Enthoven explains.  “They were not happy, but I wanted the book to be one hundred pages and I am not a trained writer.  I knew I’d need the extra time.”

The René Smeets Award goes to the best graduation project and Enthoven says he is shocked by his win.  A self-defined “difficult student” he was once called up by the then department-head, Anthon Beeke, for a harsh talking to.  “I don't think I was an easy student,” he says. “I was never easy to guide and although I am pleased with this, I can still see the weaknesses.”

Enthoven plans to have “Indoors” published in Dutch next summer and is now looking for an English publisher.

“And now that I have done this I do want to gravitate back to art,” he says.  “I like illustrating, I like the short deadlines and I see my style as something in the middle of art and design.”

Graduation Show 201
0 runs to the 31st October.

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