It is said that creativity is something you’re born with, and that is certainly true when it comes to the sublime work of artist Lynn Spoor. The model turned artist – that reached financial independence before the age of 20 – has made a name for herself both in the Netherlands and overseas, and will without a doubt become a worldwide phenomenon within the next decade. Despite her success and influencer status on social media, the Dutch artist is remarkably down-to-earth.
“People often don’t expect an artist to be social, but I’m actually very outgoing.”
It’s a cloudy Thursday morning in March when we meet Lynn at her atelier in Overveen, a small village next to Amsterdam. A breath-taking mansion surrounded by nothing but nature. The spacious workroom is drenched in light, the floor covered in paint, and in the back, two French doors open up to a large balcony overlooking the forest. Casually dressed in beige linen trousers and a basic black t-shirt, she sure looks like an artist. We’re being warmly welcomed and after a quick tour around her workspace we immediately fall into conversation.
“People often don’t expect an artist to be social, but I’m actually very outgoing.” Lynn says. “I really enjoy being with friends and doing fun things, such as going to parties and go out for drinks. I also love to travel and visit art fairs. But yes, when I’m working, I’m alone most of the time. I love the peaceful surrounding of this place. Being close to nature truly sparks my creativity.”
Needless to say, we couldn’t avoid the subject of the current crisis we are living in. So, how does an artist experience life in Corona times? Businesswise she hardly notices any change, to the contrary, people seem to be buying art now more than ever. “People are spending a lot of time at home and since they are unable to go on vacation, I’m not surprised that those who are interested in art, chose this time to upgrade their house with new pieces.” she states. “In addition, I feel that the majority of art collectors may have been less affected by the crisis compared to others.”
“We decorated our house together. It’s filled with plants, art, books and candles. Those things are very important to me.”
Lynn shares a home with her boyfriend, Niels Blij. Together, they live in a quiet neighbourhood in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid, away from the tourists and city-noise. Besides art, Lynn also has a knack for interior design. “We decorated our house together. It’s filled with plants, art, books and candles, those things are very important to me. Fortunately, we are quite on the same page when it comes to that. Our interior is very modern, with a classic touch. For example, there is a sleek white sofa, wood combined with beige tones, and a lot of books by my favourite artists. And of course, there is a substantial amount of art on the walls. We have a few pieces of my own work at home, but the majority is created by other artists, which I love. It inspires me to be surrounded by different kinds of art.” she explains.
Niels is an entrepreneur as well. Among other things, he had his own gin brand, but now focuses more on the creative concept development for various other liquor companies. “We met a few years ago when he came to me to buy an art-piece. I created a personalized work for him, so we naturally had to have deep conversations upfront, for me to find out what feeling he wanted to convey in the painting. It was quite a personal conversation and I believe that’s what sparked interest from both sides. Of course, he is also very handsome. And, yes, he bought the artwork.” she laughs. “It is still hanging in our home today.”
Her work is inspired by the likes of grandeur artists such as Gerhard Richter and José Parlá. “I love textures and for me it’s important that a work of art evokes a feeling. At the beginning, creating the basic raw layer for the work is deeply reflective and informative. Later, when a piece is starting to come together — using colours, creating textures – working towards something that feels cohesive and complete. That’s incredibly powerful to me.” Lynn explains. “In addition, I get a lot of inspiration from traveling. For example, I now have a new series of artworks inspired by the Mediterranean atmosphere. These are works with warm colours such as red, orange and gold. The plan was to travel there again this summer, but unfortunately we probably won’t be able to do so.”
Although Lynn discovered her artistic talent at a very young age, she consciously chose that career path above one she endured on even earlier. She was scouted as a model at the age of 12, but noticed quickly, this wasn’t the road she was destined to walk. “The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about that time is the fact that I had to exercise and was put on a diet straight on – we are talking about 12 years old here.” Lynn recalls. Being naturally thin she far from needed it, especially at that age where the concern should be whether her diet contained enough nutrients instead of counting calories. She admits that being constantly judged by how she looked, had a huge impact on her self-esteem. She was offered contracts with agencies in England and Asia, but the fact that this required travelling overseas for months at a time was her cue to leave. “I did not want to be away from home, so I made the decision not to continue down this road. In the end I never grew past the 1.73m, which is actually just slightly too short for a successful career as a model. I never regretted that choice.” she says.
Back then she had already discovered her love for drawing. Lynn: “My interest in art started when I saw portraits of an artist somewhere online. I was just fascinated by how realistic it looked. Empathy is essential to portraiture and I wanted to be able to do that too; to capture someone’s emotions on paper. I was about 13 years old at the time. I started with sketching portraits from photos of famous Dutch people to experiment with different techniques. Later on, I started drawing commissioned work as well. “
“I remember during my first few years, my father hammering the wooden boxes for me to ship my artworks in.”
Around the age of 16 she switched from sketching to painting. “It allowed me to transfer my thoughts onto a piece of paper. I started with landscapes, and I think they can be very poetic and emotional, but it’s different from the expression of emotions that comes with creating an abstract painting.” Lynn explains. Today, her work is solely abstract in which she always focusses on colour and textures. “I never know in advance how a work of art will turn out; I just allow my imagination to run free. Every artwork is like a new adventure.”
Growing up in a small town called Velsen, the Netherlands, she never dreamed of becoming a successful selling artist. “I do believe I owe part of my success to my parents. They have been my biggest supporters from the very beginning and so has my brother, even though he is 10 years older.” Lynn says. “I was very passionate and had a clear vision of how I wanted to do things from the very beginning. Some may call it stubborn, but I think this is exactly why my family have always believed in me. I remember during my first few years, my father hammering the wooden boxes for me to ship my artworks in. I’m very grateful for my parents’ love and support, as I realise that being able to follow your heart is not a given for everyone.”
“Sometimes I still take on a small modelling job, but my heart lies in painting: For me, painting is true freedom.”
Though she chose not to explore the opportunity of a successful modelling career, being thrown into that scene at such a young age did teach her some valuable lessons. Lynn: “For one, the drive and work ethic is something you take with you for the rest of your life. On the other hand as an artist, beside a unique point of view, it definitely helps when you have a certain appearance: you are a reflection of your own work. People are not just buying your art; they are buying a piece of your imagination. Sometimes I still take on a small modelling job, but my heart lies in painting: For me, painting is true freedom.”
Given her background, it’s no surprise the artist also adores fashion, which evidently is also a form of art and a way to express oneself. Her love for fashion is now reflected in some experimental work in which she personalizes textiles. [Lynn points behind me, where there are two airbrushed jackets hanging on the back of the door; one denim, the other one a vintage leather.] “This is something I want to do more in the future.” she smiles.
With her blond hair and piercing blue eyes it’s hard not to be drawn towards her when passing by. Yet, it’s her humbleness that graces her. If anything, she isn’t the type of person who immediately starts sharing all her accomplishments in a room full of strangers. “I’m quite modest when it comes to selling myself to potential new buyers. However, if they ask me about what I do, I’m not too shy to tell them about my work. It’s quite funny how I then instantly become an open book.” Lynn says. Point proven by the fact that she managed to get her first exhibition in NYC at the age of 19, which put her on the map on an international level very early on in her career. “There’s a woman – I believe she was a curator or art-dealer – who I had been following on Instagram for a while, when she announced she was holding an exhibition in NYC with only female artists. For some reason, I felt very strongly about meeting her, so I randomly booked a ticket together with my mom and we went to visit the show. It was fantastic, very ‘American’ and a little over the top. When I saw that woman, I walked up to her and told her that I flew from Amsterdam to NYC for one reason only; to meet her. I was well prepared and immediately showed her my work. She seemed impressed and said she would contact me whenever she would be in Amsterdam. A year later I received a message from her that she was coming to Amsterdam and would love to catch up. Next thing I knew I became the prime artist at her next exhibition. I sold my main piece there, but until this day I still don’t know who bought it. Because this was handled via the art-dealer in New York, I wasn’t allowed to know the buyers name. I still bugs me, because to me, my work is very personal and I would love to know who choose to make my painting part of their home.”
“When I saw that woman, I walked up to her and told her that I flew from Amsterdam to NYC for one reason only; to meet her.”
Today, the artist is still producing new work on a regular basis, and plans on continue to do so for a very long time. “It is difficult to determine exactly when a work is finished. You can go on with it forever. It’s a process in which I have to trust my gut-feeling.” she explains. “It’s also a learning experiences to find your own signature. You have to make mistakes to be able to find that. For example, I once created this incredible layer of paint that I was very satisfied with. But I wasn’t following my instincts and just kept on adding on more colours. In the end, I completely ruined it and the original layer that I was so happy with was entirely gone. Then you start think to yourself: if only I had stayed away from it. You have to go through that though to be able to grow.”
For more information visit www.lynnspoor.com
Credits: Photography by Lola May, hair & makeup by Frederique Goud; exclusively for AV-mag