Joseph, you’ve been popping up everywhere lately. At the Dutch GP you had a huge bronze astronaut in the paddock and you have 727,000 followers on Instagram. It seems that you are becoming more and more visible.
‘That’s actually true. I’ve never been so into networking before. From the age of 21 to 31, I worked in the studio exclusively with blinders on. I hardly ate out, I didn’t party. My friends didn’t understand why I didn’t want to join, but I was so passionate about making art that I stayed until Then go home to take a nap for a few hours and then go back to the studio. Every day I had a kind of Christmas feeling, like: I can work again. So ended my relationship of more than ten years. All the time I lived in Bussum, my business is here in Naarden, and I thought: I’m moving to Amsterdam. I just had to spread my wings. Only then did I find out that we had already achieved a great deal in terms of brand awareness. I had never noticed that, but suddenly I found myself in networks and I noticed how connected everyone is. Dutch celebrities came my way because they thought my work was cool, so did international celebrities. It has all gone completely organic; I have not tagged or DM anyone. Just through hard work and doing cool things, everyone crossed my path.’
Spreading your wings in Amsterdam, is it a metaphor for parties and animals?
“Um, yes. I came from a long relationship and had only worked; I discovered the joy of going out. It was a hard time, because I came home late from a party, but I don’t sleep late. So I slept way too little and began to look bad. I could be found in town at least four nights a week; it was a whole new world to me. I found that people knew me, wanted to have a chat, and thought the attention was great. It everything was very positive. During that time I also got to know Martin Garrix; he liked my work and came to visit the studio. Then he told me he was on a summer tour that would last three months. He invited me to Ibiza and I was allowed to go to the open air club Ushuaïa to see how he does his work. That’s how the friendship with Garrix started: he thought my art was cool and wanted something for his new house and studio, and i sometimes went to a show, because DJ’s often have such a busy schedule of touring, it’s best to fly with them, then you can eat and chat and stuff like that while you travel and wait. I’ve been to Ushuaïa with him about ten times, to Las Vegas ten times: you fly together, you have time together, you can connect. Your business simply outperforms many times over. They can work on their laptop in the plane, I really admire that.
During the same period I also got to know Jorik, you know, Lil’ Klein. Later I got a message from Rico Verhoeven, who explained that he had developed a new fitness app. He asked if I would like to write something about it in my Instagram Stories, because he also appreciated my work. I invited him to my studio for a cup of coffee and we clicked immediately. He is a good person. Others might see his picture and think he’s a beast, a monster or a murderer, but he’s just a really nice boy. Besides being family people, we also want to do really good things. We don’t think about self-interest, but everything has to be win-win. Our common core values are aligned. The same goes for Martin Garrix. He is very generous, like me. Anyone who dines with us will be surprised at the reason we quietly escape to the toilet: it’s to secretly be the first to pay for everyone. We do this because we want the best for each other. I have built a special relationship with Rico, where we help each other where we can.’
You and your art are also internationally loved by famous world stars, can you single out one?
“Sergio Ramos came my way in the same natural way. He captained Real Madrid for a long time and now plays for Paris Saint-Germain. He is truly an art lover. At one point I noticed something was happening on my Instagram account because I suddenly saw reactions popping up via fan accounts of Sergio Ramos. Then you know: something is happening. What turned out? He had started following me and then a whole swarm of people followed him. We made contact, talked to each other and then he bought a piece from me. He recently texted me asking if I’d like to come and watch a game, but it hasn’t happened yet.’
How important is contact with celebrities to the progress of your work?
‘It’s important anyway. I think the world is kind of like that, there is always an interest in famous people. The public finds celebrities interesting. When you’re in the middle of it, you’re on the other side of the curtain, it feels different. One of my really good friends is Maluma. It is a singer from Colombia, he works with the greats like Madonna and The Weeknd and is currently growing to the top of the world with his 63 million followers on Instagram. He wrote to me five years ago that he liked my work and wanted something for his home in Miami. He invited my brother Louis and me to a big show in Los Angeles. We saw the show, went straight into the dressing-room with him, and then had dinner; also just a good click with each other. I appreciate that, because everyone wants something from him, even the famous ones. He’s kind of a celebrity among celebrities. Seven years ago he flew easyjet with a backpack, now he has his own black Learjet. He’s blown up so quickly, that’s how it goes in the Latin world. No one explodes faster than a Latin artist.’
Do you want that status too? Towards the 100 million followers on Instagram and the whole world knowing you and begging for your services?
“Well, of course, in a way, worldly status is something to aspire to. What makes art desirable is that it comes from a famous artist. Everyone wants a Picasso or an Andy Warhol. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful piece, as long as it’s a Warhol.’
Curious about the rest of the interview? You can read it via Blendle or in the latest Revu. In the rest of the article, Joseph Klibansky tells more about his work as an artist, self-promotion in art, creative freedom and work with the family.