Tourists notice Arina and Amber’s paintings: ‘Some think you just throw something at them’

If you pay close attention in Luttekestraat, you will regularly see an easel outside. Behind it is the art gallery of Arina Holtland (21) and Amber Kooiker (21). Under the name Atelier58, the painters create abstract art and sometimes portraits. “It’s not something you just do,” says Amber.

Arina and Amber met through their education at Cibap and became best friends. Through an internship, they ended up with an artist who taught them the tricks of the trade. “We were already selling paintings back then. When we saw this building in 2021, we thought: maybe we should start something for ourselves,’ says Amber. The business was first part of a Zwolle hairdresser. “The floor was still purple, so we put in a new floor and painted everything white.”

‘We don’t get in each other’s way’

They are now more than satisfied with the location in the center of Zwolle. “It is a good starting point. There are many people who see the donkey outside. And we have a nice loft with workplaces upstairs and downstairs,” says Amber. “That way we don’t get in each other’s way,” says Arina with a laugh. “Also, people who walk in see us at work. They ask how we make the artwork and they like our painting clothes,” says Amber.

‘tax, toll’

That distraction can sometimes be difficult, Arina admits. “We can’t actually paint on a Saturday, then we are more busy with the customers. You have to take that into account.” According to the artists, there are many tourists, especially in summer. “Buses with German tourists stop nearby. They come and look and say: ‘Toll, toll’, says Arina, laughing.

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Arina and Amber at work in their studio. Photo: Zwolle quarter.

‘You don’t learn this work in an education’

Although the ladies are only 21, they had to prove themselves for the art painting profession. “You have to show yourself to be able to start something,” says Arina. “I also don’t think you learn the work we do on a training course. Neither did we. You have to have a feel for it.” For example, Amber makes more colorful paintings and Arina makes so-called line paintings. “Amber tried to teach me, but I can’t.” Amber: “And I can’t do portraits. I can’t do that again.”

“Some people think you just throw something on it”

Some of the artworks in the studio have a mixture of different colors. The colorful eye-catchers are not made with a few dabs of paint. “Some people think you just throw something on it, but there is a technique behind it. Everything has to be right. To be able to see it, you have to feel it and be able to make it. It’s not something you just do,” says Amber.

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Own specialty

Arina and Amber use their own specialty for each painting. “Especially when an order comes in. Then we look at which of the two of us is best suited to the task and who has a good feeling for it.” Someone who gets a painting done shows the artists what they think is beautiful. “For example, Arina once painted two abstract grandchildren. A silhouette, but in our style.”

‘You can’t paint eight hours in a day’

The artists spend a month to a month and a half per painting. “Each painting has a process where we sometimes change something at the very end. We add something every time. This creates a beautiful structure around the canvas. And sometimes you think a painting is finished, but when you look at it the next morning, you add something,’ says Amber and later adds: ‘You can’t paint eight hours a day either. It’s not realistic. Therefore, we work on several paintings at the same time. Then a work can dry. Or busy with the administration, that also has to be done.”

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Studio 58
Amber and Arina from Atelier58. Photo: Atelier58.

Dear friends and business partners

Amber brings up a good point: they are also ‘suddenly’ entrepreneurs. “We knew nothing about it. At least I don’t. We discovered and learned that together. We are now best friends and business partners. Every day we go to our hobby.” That work doesn’t stop at five o’clock in the afternoon. “Sometimes we lie in bed at night and then we write again to discuss a painting,” says Amber. Arina: “But it doesn’t feel like an obligation.”

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Studio 58
Arina and Amber from Atelier58 at Het Land van OAK, summer 2022. Photo: Atelier58.

More art pop-up places

Their reputation is growing. Last year the ladies were asked to display artwork at the Het land van OAK wine festival. The artists also dream of pop-up locations, perhaps in other cities. “But we especially hope for a larger building one day. We have just signed up for four more years for this building, but ultimately we would like to hang more paintings,” says Arina.

The Diezerstraat in particular beckons. “It’s a big shopping street, but I don’t know if a gallery would fit there. You have a lot of visitors, but people may not buy anything. And then we can’t paint as much, because we talk to people a lot,” adds Amber.

Are you curious about Atelier58? The gallery at Luttekststraat 58 is open every day except Monday. You can visit it from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00 and Sunday from 12:00 to 17:00.

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