POM Magazine

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Urban Cowboy

An urban cowboy is seemingly a paradoxical figure, but not necessarily so. A cowboy is like grass growing between the tiles. Although the space in a square system is tight, no matter how small, it allows uncontrolled growth. Cowboys seldom meet. If they meet, it is short and to the point. It is lonesome, but never alone. I went looking for them in my town.

by Bert van der Zee

If the city differs from the Wild West, then it is because of the gigantic density of people. More tiles, more overgrowth, more cowboys. And no matter how much cowboys differ from each other in appearance, and in their comings and goings, they are cut from the same cloth, and you can smell it. It takes courage to display your authenticity, but for an urban cowboy it is an effortless activity. The city has different laws, other needs, other opportunities, but the dialogue the cowboy has with all this is unchanged. Again and again that question: “What will I do with my freedom today?” In my circle of friends I found some cowboys. I asked them about their cowboy life, and what makes them a cowboy. And no matter how typically they fit the profile, while talking with me, they trample on the framework of what a cowboy is. Therefore, according to themselves, they never really fit the cowboy profile- the one that does not exist anyway. This exactly befits a cowboy. At least for some of them.

This year, Casper has officially been my friend. He is an urban cowboy, I think. Is it his style of clothing? His tightly shaved beard line? Is it because he greets women on the street that he has never met before and sometimes serves them breakfast the next morning? No, it’s his Honda motorcycle. Or maybe it is simply because making an appointment with him via the telephone doesn’t work, and I constantly run into him when we have forgotten about each other. “An urban cowboy knows the laws of the jungle and the laws of the city”, he says, “ he knows how to play, to get what he wants. How to deal with a woman. How to get a well-paid job. What are the “must-goes.”

According to Casper, a yup might be an urban cowboy and also vice versa. However according to him there is an essential difference. “Self-enrichment isn’t a priority”, he explains. “A free spirit takes what he needs. He does not work for the system, but lets the system work itself”.

When I spoke with Casper I couldn’t get out of my head something I once read: “If you want to kill the king, you must become his best friend”. An urban cowboy doesn’t rebel. He knows the legal loopholes and slips through them with style. “ In that sense, I don’t think I am an urban cowboy”, Casper tells me, “because financially I don’t have that independence yet”. With funky merchandise an urban cowboy earns his money, on which they live well, without holding out their hands. Yet at the same time they don’t depend on their own success. Losing freedom, is not the issue.  Buying a house? It’s possible. As long as it gives freedom instead of taking it away.” While Casper tells me this, he shakes sand out of his ears, from Black Rock Desert, where he met, Burning Man, at the festival. Real cowboys.

What brings me and my other friend Jasper together, is that we meet each other everywhere and nowhere. Jasper is a vagabond, a ‘stroller number one’. In his own words, a cowboy without a hat. Is this perhaps because the urban landscape offers enough shadow? On his feet, even more so than by bike, he strolls around city. He is always accompanied by everybody. “Strolling is the best there is”, he says, “For adventure you don’t have to travel far. Everything is around you”. His eyes aren’t always focused on the horizon. He thinks an urban cowboy is easily recognisable. “They smoke. That’s a must. And they have masculine qualities. They don’t own a horse but a bike or a Vespa. At the same time they can’t be categorised based on style of clothing”, according to Jasper.

He thinks it is  more a certain agility that makes an urban man, a cowboy. The modern form of throwing a lasso is skateboarding, walking a tightrope, or throwing garbage bags. It will always remain a mystery, but it’s true. “An urban cowboy is popular with women. He doesn’t hesitate to sleep with a lot of women. But at the same time he is a loner. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, but he is actually also never alone. Except in his wilfulness”, Jasper explains. “And obviously, an urban cowboy is into music”, he added. Jasper doesn’t throw lassos, but vinyl.  He plays records, samples them and transforms them into complete new hip-hop beats, which he performs live, in bars, living rooms and street tunnels.

The third cowboy in my circle of friends is Joshua. I haven’t seen him for years. And still: if I have to drive someone in and out the cowboy category, it is Joshua. He simply has the looks. It is inspiring, how someone so good looking, shows sheer sympathy. His smile displays a low dentist invoice. Arrogance is unknown to him. You might come across Joshua anywhere on this planet. I would say during all four seasons. In summer he builds and dismantles gigantic staging and installations at festivals. Thick skin on hands and soul. He knows the paradox of independence in being together. He once said: ”The only thing I need while travelling is a bottle of water, the rest will come.”

I contacted him via facebook, because he was in Tokyo. The cowboy label he dismissed immediately. “I think it has a negative ring, cowboy. Someone who doesn’t care about anybody and complies distinctly to his self-created rules and therefore upsets others. Not that I am pro shackles of convention”, he added. “I’d rather see myself as an Urban Ninja. Someone who in ignorance makes things happen, and goes for the big picture, without anyone really noticing. Sometimes clockwise, sometimes not. Urban cowboy sounds to me a bit silly and rebellious. Loud but without substantial actions that inspire or are effective. Anyway, what’s in a word? All interpretations of something that is empty in reality.”

I can’t wait until I forget about Joshua and run into him somewhere, escaping the same safety-net;  an endless variation on that theme of free movement. If words are a lasso then sometimes you catch and sometimes you miss. Finally, here is my version of a typical urban cowboy. Auto-biographical? Perhaps, except for the moments when I miss. It still is colouring outside the lines.

Urban Cowboy?

Someone who is well dressed but who isn’t afraid to become dirty. Prepared for everything he wants to experience. Not only does he always have his phone charger with him, but also a powerbank, condoms, lighter, pen, pocketknife, deo, passport, ear plugs, toothpicks, chewing gum, a little bottle of water, cash and atm pass. He owns compact but robust transportation: a bike, skateboard, a moped. He doesn’t own a car or a motorcycle because that could limit him.
He distinguishes style from imitation, but isn’t afraid to dissolve into the crowd. He doesn’t display his taste but he casually gives it away as a result of immediate need.
He is a person who is just as happy with a bag of chips, as with a four-course meal in a five star restaurant.
His cultural background is negligible but not lost. On the contrary, he honours his roots but washed away the traces and blends easily into any other culture.
He is a person who doesn’t derive his strength from systematic training but from the need for movement.
He dances, he is invisible. If you see him, you will recognise him immediately; you want something from him that he will never give and yet he is generous and shares that what is needed. Someone who, in a group, is camouflaged but in front of an audience bursting with confidence.
There is no woman in who he finds something he didn’t receive from his mother.
He wouldn’t hurt a fly, but if blood must be spilled, there will be blood.
He gets a smooth shave without an appointment.
And above all, he carries a handkerchief with him because you never know when you will get your hands dirty.

Photo: Jasmijn Schrofer

Garrincha-  A Colourist Pushing Boundaries

Hairstylist and colourist, Garrincha, of salon SIM SON loves to radically change hair colour. Both for himself and for others. “I think it important to help people do things with their hair that aren’t mainstream.”, he explains in an interview with Klaartje Til. Please learn more about the man who likes to encourage people to step over the line, because, if you want a radical change of hair colour, something inside you opens up.

Garrincha, why are you so fascinated by colouring hair?
I have been colouring my hair since I was 11 years old. I am 28 now, so over the years I have noticed how my hair reacts. I gained a lot of knowledge about colouring my hair and decided to specialise in it. I have very sensitive hair so as a colourist, I think I can handle all hair types.

Why did you start colouring your hair at such a young age?
I saw a cartoon in which one of the characters had pieces of red hair. I also saw Britney Spear’s video clip, Toxic, in which she has red, black and blond hair. That was what I wanted. I took my mother’s blue and red mascaras and I used them to colour my hair. She wasn’t happy that I was using her mascara. But she said, “If you really want this let’s do it the traditional way.” That same week I went to the hairdresser and my hair was coloured red (laughs).

What hair colours did you have?
There isn’t a colour I didn’t have. Red was my first colour. I’ve also had yellow, which is one of my favourite colours actually, purple, blue, green, orange, and black. I have had every colour of the rainbow.

Did you want to be a professional hairstylist when you were young?
When I was young I didn’t want to be a hairdresser. I wanted to make cartoons. But I didn’t find something I was good at, however, I was good at being a hairdresser. I decided to school myself at barber college. Also, on YouTube I discovered a colourist who creates colourful hairstyles. I thought, “Wow, I want to do, what he does.” That inspired my passion for colouring hair.

Your fascination doesn’t lie with the profession of being a hairstylist, but with creating colourful hairstyles?
Love for the profession grew gradually, especially for the creative side of it. It took a while for me to warm to the profession. At first, I was not good at all. Then I worked at a salon where I learned a lot from the colour specialist that worked there. He was a very good teacher. From that moment on, I experimented a lot.

What type of people have their hair coloured by you?
All types of people. Young, old, artistic and commercial. People who want creative colouring. People who only want highlights or have regrowth tinted. But I also have older customers, ladies who go for bright red or pink hair. These are people who go against society’s expectations.

So we can’t specify hair colouring persons as a specific species?
No, not really. It is the need for change. For some people, it symbolises rebellion, especially for young  people between 10 and 18 years old. Others want it to express themselves.

When someone returns to you after you have given the first radical colour treatment, do you notice a change in this person?
People who go for more creative styles, often want more. I have a customer who wanted blue hair at the time. I coloured her hair step-by-step. First I only did blue highlights. And now, five years later, I still do her hair. She had purplish blue hair and then orange.

In the stories that people tell you, do you notice that their wish to want more with their hair, also applies to something else?
People who go for a radical change become more confident. First they worry about the opinions of others. But through the years I noticed from personal stories that they become more confident. They don’t care what others think because they want to express themselves. I think it is very important, that people can be themselves and express themselves in the way they want to.

Do you feel an obligation to give people the opportunity, to respond to this urge?
Sometimes I cut children who would love to have blue or pink hair. Their parents don’t allow it because they fear what others may think. I think that’s terrible. A child shouldn’t have to worry about the opinion of others. I always try to help a bit. Not all parents appreciate that. But I think I ought to be able to do so, being a hairdresser.

What are your plans and ambitions as a hairdresser?
I want to develop a colour method and pass it on to other hairdressers, to share my love and passion for colouring hair. I want to help hairstylists to create more, to push boundaries and make them feel more confident. You can make many changes to hair with chemicals, such as hair paints and perms. In Japan and South Korea, perms are huge and popular. It would be great to do this here in the Netherlands, and teach these Asian perm techniques. In general they don’t perm in the Netherlands. It is associated with being damaging for hair and sheepskin. But I have noticed an innovative way of working in Asia. It could be an evolution or a revolution when it comes to the West.

Photography: Merel Oenema
Insta: Garrincha

Simcha, The Countess Of Curls

Klaartje Til would often sit in a hair salon, offering a little prayer, hoping that her curls would not be ‘cut off’. She avoided hairdressers as much as possible. She went once a year, only because it was necessary. That changed after she had her best haircut ever, a few years ago in Dijon, France. After this experience, Klaartje did some research and discovered a new phenomenon: curl specialists. During her research she met Simcha, from the Amsterdam salon, Simcha & Friends. In an interview with Klaartje, Simcha explains her love for curls.

By Klaartje Til

Simcha, why aren’t hairdressers and curls a compatible match?
If you are a hairdresser but not a curlyhead yourself, then you don’t know what a drama it can be having your curls cut. It is important for the customer that you also have curls. Or you should have a lot of affinity with curls and be specialised in it. You need to know a variety of curl types, to determine how short you can cut them. The average curlyhead is always cut poorly. Cut too short, is a better description. A curl has the shape of a spiral like a corkscrew and it jumps up immediately. A hairdresser needs to determine, based on the type of curl, the extent to which it wants to pop up in the air.

But have there always been people with curly hair in the Netherlands?
O yes, many curlyheads, but in the past, curly hair, especially Afro-hair, was considered sloppy, not chic. Curly hair was often a no-go. Migration brought different types of curls to Europe, but there have always been curls in The Netherlands. However, they were straightened or treated with chemicals to avoid curling.

What was your experience with hairdressers, as a child?
My curls were always cut too short. I told the hairdresser that I wanted to keep my hair long, “just a trim please”. After the third cut I said, please stop, because by then my fringe had jumped up my forehead. I got very frustrated with my curls, also because I lived in a community where most children got their hair straightened, brushed or braided. My hair was also straightened by hairdressers. I thought, “Why?” I looked terrible.

Then you thought, “I have had it. I want to become the world’s best hairdresser?”
Well, I don’t know if I am, but I wanted to do something that others couldn’t do or didn’t want to do. Even though I was a little child, I cut and dried my friends’ hair. I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I had to become a professional hairdresser and travel as soon as possible. This is because I knew that I wasn’t going to learn anything in The Netherlands.

You started traveling around the world. What did you learn abroad?
I went to Israel, to a kibbutz and started to trim their hair. I was 17 years old, and just did it. I decided to go to one of Israel’s best hair salons where people from all over the world, worked. They all had curly hair. They thought it cool that I was from Amsterdam and they wanted me to show them what I could do. Within a month, I was cutting hair in that salon and worked there for a while. Later, I travelled to other countries like Senegal and Morocco, to find out more about curls.

You use a new technique of cutting curls. What makes this technique so special?
A curl is a spiral. After washing, it dries up into a different shape. It will never fall back into the same shape. Imagine, one hundred thousand wet spirals that dry differently each time. That is why I cut beautiful symmetrical lines. In our salon we also cut very straight hair. Cutting straight hair is also a matter of cutting precise, perfect, sharp lines. I am a perfectionist.

The salon has been booming for more than 35 years. Is it because of the special technique used to cut curls?
Hospitality is very important, that is making sure that people are relaxed. For example, that customer there whose hair I just cut, told me that her hair was always cut badly. She was nervous and asked if she could show me pictures of hairstyles she would like to have. I explained that each person has a different hair structure, and that I would try to translate the pictures she showed me into a cut that works for her hair. I reassured her that we would do something beautiful with her hair. No stress! She just flipped because she was so happy with her new haircut. Happy that finally someone understood. That is what I see all day, people who almost gave up. My mantra is, “Don’t worry, it will be fine, no stress. I promise I won’t cut it too short.” Then they relax and smile. When they come up after their hair has dried, they smile or cry from happiness. To me that is the biggest compliment. (At Simcha & Friends, people with curly hair are cut and dried with their heads bent over.)

It is so much more than just cutting hair, is it?
We have a room for people who need peace and quiet, because they are ill or because something bad happened in their lives. They need extra care. If people are sad, they can sit in this room and deal with the sadness. A client who regularly visits our salon is very ill, she has cancer. I organise the wig and I cut it in the style she prefers. I always help regular clients who are ill, myself, and for free. To me that is the real work, giving these women a sense of self-esteem. Cutting strong, healthy hair and making clients happy with a haircut, is easy in comparison. It is important to reassure people who are fighting for their lives and losing their hair. They need to know that they can put their head in our hands and it will be alright.

That is not always easy I imagine?
I try to keep things light. I am Simcha, my name means joy. Making wigs together with customers often creates a lot fun and laughter. Today I had a customer who initially only wanted a haircut. She was so happy with it that she decided to stay and also dye her hair. All hairdressers were busy. She waited for hours until somebody became available to dye her hair, because she really wanted us to help her. Whether it is someone who comes in for a wig or someone who has been cut badly for years, it is wonderful to help these people. Their surprise and emotion are beautiful.

Photography: Merel Oenema.

It’s Art. Not Chemistry!

An interview with Dutch painter, Inge Aanstoot, quickly turns into a maelstrom of associations that, in a split second, leaves you far away from your question. Thoughts meander endlessly, and before you know it – and with great pleasure – it is three hours later. Your questions still have not been addressed, let alone answered. Anyone who knows Inge’s paintings will not be surprised. Her work has been described as unbridled associations, of which she gradually becomes the conductor. Together with Thierry Reniers, Inge looks back on her development as a painter and talks about the challenges in the upcoming six years.

by Thierry Reniers

Inge, how did you experience the period after your graduation?
At art school I didn’t learn anything about what comes to you as an artist. That’s quite alright. For my first solo exhibition at the Vonkel gallery, in The Hague, I already had work lined up. I wasn’t pushed at all at the time. That changed when I was asked whether I had work available for such and such art shows. Fortunately, deadlines work well for me and I can work all through the night. But working three days a week in a drugstore doesn’t leave much space in your mind to take the next important steps. Every aspiring painter faces this issue of course, but it’s great that I can fully concentrate on my art work now. Frustrations about the process can result in very good results. The painting, ‘The Young Artist’ for example, is such an explosion of frustration, and is about the struggle that every artist goes through. That made it a very atypical work, a key work actually.

Inge Aanstoot-The Young Artist (2014)

Can you tell us more about your key works?
For a long time ‘Fever Pitch’ was a key work, although it was created very differently. After a period in which I had a lot of time to try things out, I was asked to create a work for an exposition in Rotterdam, in TENT. That gave me a positive boost. Looking back, I notice that my key works are created every time something crucial changed in my life. ‘Caught In the Act’ was created when I got more and more involved with artists’ initiatives, and studio complexes. There was hassle about my work between two galleries. The painting is partly about my own positioning. Over the past six years I have learned to tell authorities like museum directors and gallery owners what I think and how I would like things to be.

Inge Aanstoot-Caught in the act (2012)
Inge Aanstoot-Caught in the act (2012)

How does your work reflect upon your personal development?
‘Verhalenvertellers’ (2010), ‘Land’s End’ (2009) of ‘Pomegranates’ (2009) are full of associations, and I can tell what each element means, or why it is where it is. ‘Gamma Delta’ (2015) and ‘Sabi’ (2015) are, more than is usual for my work, empty paintings. I now allow myself to paint them emptier. I no longer have to put everything I see or think, in one painting. I feel it is no longer necessary that everything in a painting focusses on the same theme. I realise that everything I put on canvas can be seen as a statement. But, I don’t feel the obligation to explain everything. It’s art, not chemistry. It’s a bit like not hearing the end of a story at a party. That story will be thrilling forever. In a similar way, I want my work to have a thrilling relationship with my thoughts. I don’t want to be merely the illustrator of my ideas. That’s why I am not a politically engaged artist. Of course I have opinions on politics, but I don’t think it interesting to use them one-on-one on canvas. For me, painting is simply not the medium for this.

Have you become freer in the way you paint?
I think less about the exact how and why I put certain elements on canvas. Sometimes it is just too comprehensive. In ‘On Rites’ there is a dead seal puppy with worms coming out of its head. An image coming straight from a documentary by David Attenborough. Every night before bedtime I watch documentaries, because I think it’s interesting to see what fascinating things nature brings. Such a seal head combined with crawling worms and starfishes is a very aesthetic image. I think it is shocking that people would rather shop than explore nature. They take their children to the Zoo but don’t read the information on the signs, and hardly look at the animals. The painting deals with all these things. I have become freer in my substantive choices. But I am also more aware of the reactions to my work. With my first paintings, everybody asked why I painted with so many drips. I didn’t do it consciously. It is because of the many layers of thinned acrylic that I used. The same goes for all of these white people who resembled corpses. If only one person has this association, I don’t take any notice of it. But if many have this association, it is a reason for me to wonder why I portrayed people like that. It shouldn’t become a trick. A friend once said jokingly: “Inge’s work? That’s a bunch of plants, dead animals and a woman with one finger in her vagina.” Indeed, I deliberately show certain elements frequently in my work. But I want every new work to add something new.

Are there any other remarkable changes in your work?
The faces shown in my work have become more realistic. My work has also become more balanced, I think, because I make clearer choices. I hesitate less to nick images. Why would I think about how to portray a dead seal, when there are documentaries? As long as it fits within what I want to communicate and within my way of working, I think I can integrate the work of other artists in my paintings. ‘Caught In the Act’ shows, my version of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy’ by David Hockney, in the background. In this work I also used the bottom of a poster by Egon Schiele and a half-crumpled drawing by Leopold Rabus. My work is about how images and information drown us and influence us. Why then should I feel guilty about integrating these images in my paintings? The funny thing is that these liberties make me add less to my paintings. Half of ‘Gamma Delta’ is a mint green wall and that is actually more interesting than a busy background, as I intended to do. Technical consideration also plays a larger role. In ‘Sabi’ for example, I chose to leave the foot of the person at the right, unfinished. And yet, hardly anybody noticed that.

Inge Aanstoot- Gamma Delta (2015)

How do you think your work will continue to develop?
There is more abstraction, although I think I will never only paint spots and stripes. The road is clear to experiment with different formats, to focus on different media like sculpture or performing arts. Painting comes naturally to me. I could paint plants, animals and women until the end of days. And sometimes a man. I am not the type that puts a few wooden boxes in a meadow with a text. But I see myself combining paintings and spatial art. Everything that feels comfortable, can restrict you. If I noticed that painting feels too comfortable, I would like to expand.

Photography: Jasmijn Schrofer

Designer in Los Angeles-Camilla Lonis

Camilla Lonis lives in Los Angeles where she works for graffiti artist, Shepard Fairey. She designs for the OBEY Clothing fashion brand, and is the design director of Studio Number One. Camilla talked to Klaartje Til about her life in Los Angeles and explains why she loves Los Angeles so much.

Camilla how did you end up in Los Angeles?
After I graduated from art school in Rotterdam, I worked for several years as a freelance designer in the Netherlands. At some point I started receiving more and more assignments from agencies abroad; especially from agencies in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. So I decided to visit those cities. I assumed that I wouldn’t find LA that exciting. But once I got there, I quickly changed my mind.

Why did you assume that Los Angeles wouldn’t be so exciting?
San Francisco seemed more interesting to me. There is a hippie culture, the people are more relaxed, there is beautiful nature. I had a certain image of LA, a flat city with a lot of palm trees, hot weather and people with attitude. But that wasn’t the case at all. However, it is true that LA is a city where you need a car. It’s hard to get anywhere without a car or driving license. As soon as I drove through LA, the way I thought about the city changed. It’s not one city but thirty towns that form Los Angeles. That was a surprise to me.

What made you stay in Los Angeles?
Art and my work as designer. A few months after I moved to Los Angeles I met Shepard Fairey by accident. He is a successful American street artist. He hired me to work as design director for his art gallery, Subliminal.

Shepard Fairey is a big name in the contemporary art scene. How was it to be hired by him to work for him?
It felt bizarre. I read about him in art books when I was still at art school. I admired him enormously and a few years later I was sitting at the table with him. In no time I started to work for him. Shepard is the creative director of Obey Giant and Subliminal, and I work directly for him. I am often called to help choose between one design or another, for a poster he is working on. He always looks and listens very carefully to what is happening around him. He is open to other opinions and his art has a positive influence. That inspires me.

You also design for OBEY Clothing. What is the typical LA look?
That depends very much on the neighbourhood. In Echo Park people dress super casual: vintage jeans of good quality, but old, with a clean T-shirt, blank with a single, small graphic design. Don’t try too hard, that’s not cool. Actually, you can’t dress as “a LA person”. There are so many cultures so there isn’t one LA look.

And to which culture do you belong?
In everyday life I work in Echo Park. I am an artist and I listen to punk and metal music. Street art influences my work. But I also go out in Beverly Hills and then I wear fancy clothing. When I go to a party in West Hollywood I dress cooler. That’s what I like about this city, there are so many different cultures.

You work in the design world. Is design important in Los Angeles?
Design and art is important for the city. There is much to see, so much to do. A lot of museums have free entrance. The art scene is young. Graffiti art is important, very visible and an important form of expression in LA. If you look at Shepard Fairey’s work, you’ll notice that he has made countless murals. They often became a movement. Because I do a lot of graphic design for local projects at Studio Number One, I often see my posters, banners and murals in LA. At some point I became the creator of the LA culture. That’s a serious responsibility. It means that I have to create with respect for the people who are actually from here, the LA natives.

What is the biggest adjustment you had to make, when you arrived to live in LA?
I had to get used to the way people drive here. They drive like crazy and then there are also these eight-lane highways in the city. But if you love the city, you want to be in every neighbourhood, so then you have to drive. The city is a grid and I can get everywhere very quickly via the road network, no matter how far a location is. The highways are built in such a way that you are suddenly at your destination. Los Angeles is easy to access as long as you have a car. And as long as you drive outside the rush hour (laughs).

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