Interview with Ditte Bollerup
By Pauline Bechmann Nielsen
P: Ditte can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your art?
D: Well, I am 18 years old and I have always been creative in many different ways, and I have always painted or drawn but I think I got serious with it when I took a year off because I went down with mental stress. For me to draw was a calm space for me to express how I felt in a safe and nonjudging environment. It was like my own little therapy and then it just started developing into something, or a universe where it just became really good I think. I think that’s the background story for me and my art.
P: So can you tell me about your concept, which you talked about during the signature night?
D: In this exhibition called “After laughter comes tears”, I wanted to take what you feel inside and put it out on the first expression on a face or a woman or some kind of human or non-human being, and I wanted for people that don’t know about mental stress or mental illness in general to have an insight on how it feels when they look at these drawings that I made for this exhibition. Because when I went down with stress I met a lot of questions and a lot of misunderstanding because people didn’t know what it was or how it felt, or how to help because they couldn’t see it in the same way as when you break your foot or a leg, or something like that because it is how you feel inside. And for this exhibition, I wanted to take it out on the outside so people could get an insight into how it feels, and that’s the concept for the exhibition. To get people to understand how I felt during that time.
P: And I really think it comes out as well when looking at these pictures. You have this picture with a double face, and I could associate the feeling of having one face showing to the outside world and the other face for how you really feel inside. And then you have this other drawing of an alienated face, and I feel that I could put myself in the role that you sometimes feel alienated from your surroundings - or feel a bit odd.
D: Exactly, and maybe also the question about identity. Who am I? and why am I feeling like this when I am used to be this person and now I feel shitty, I look shitty with all these wrinkles and stuff. I wanted people to try to associate with the drawings.
P: I definitely think people do. And so what does art mean to you?
D: Well, it means a lot to me because it is a part of me, it sounds really cliché and cheesy. But I just couldn’t live without expressing myself without a pen or paint creatively. It means a lot to me. I feel creative, and that is a part of who I am, and the reason why I am who I am. The reason why I dress and think what I think.
P: What is it that inspires you? Is there a person or an artist or whatever it is?
D: I think there are two artists that I from childhood really start liking. My art teacher once showed me a woman called Hilma af Klint. She is amazing, she makes amazing stuff and it is also from a different point of view because she uses some techniques that I am really inspired by. Another woman I am inspired by is Yayoi Kusama. She is a Japanese artist, and she inspires me because she herself is mentally ill and she uses her hallucinations in her artworks with all the polka dots. I just think that you can turn your mental illness into something creative and understandable with art. And I think that’s really cool. I am also inspired by Claude Monet even though he’s a very classic painter. These are the three artists I have looked up to and liked their works.
P: And what is your creative process, can you elaborate on that?
D: I usually put on some music that I am in the mood for, and that I can kind of relate to in the melody, and then I take a paper and a pen and maybe I saw something on the internet or a tv-show and I think “oh that expression, that face or that cheekbone or eye looked kind of amazing” then I translate that into my own kind of way with expressing how I feel. But especially for this exhibition, I have for the Signature Evening. But I usually get inspired a lot by the things I see or people or people’s reactions. I started drawing eyes because I thought that was cool, and then I went on to draw the face.
P: It’s funny that you start with the eyes because I feel that eyes are the mirror of the soul. Eyes always shine through for what a person feels inside, and I find that interesting that, that is what you are intrigued by drawing.
D: Yes, you can have these shiny happy eyes or tired mat eyes. There are all kinds of feelings in your eyes. So it starts with that, by drawing eyes and then down to the face and then further down. But I always stick to the face.
P: I guess that’s always more expressional. What would be your dream project? or the next project you are going to do?
D: I can’t wait to finish high school and graduate. And just jump into different opportunities for me to express my art and show my art. I want to inspire people with my art and my point of view, and I hope that people will get inspired and people might like it. I can’t wait for me to work with my art full time. I think that’s the next big dream, to be able to do it everyday and have the time for it without restrictions from school or another student job on the side.
P: I get that and trust me, you inspire people - or at least you inspire me. You talked earlier about having mental stress and does that stress come up when you showcase your art?
D: Well, I went through a lot of therapy and I am kind of on the other side right now but I feel really relieved showing people the drawings from this exhibition. I want to tell people that it is OK to talk about how you feel and to show it as oppose to hiding it as everybody does. I had a friend who before this exhibition came up to me and said “Ditte, I am really going through a hard time, and I don’t know what to do. What did you do and how can you be so brave, and so honest?” and I was shocked because that was what I wanted to do, and that was the point of this exhibition. I wanted to tell and show people just speak about it, and you will get better because there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
P: For sure, and I think with the art that you do, you start a conversation about it and it is super inspiring itself because you have people looking at it, and can maybe associate with it in many different ways.
D: This whole experience, from when it began until now it really took me by storm. I am so surprised by all these amazing things that have happened, that people know my works and have seen them, and get inspired. I can’t believe it.
P: Yes, I can imagine it can seem surreal. And how did you get in touch with ARTEM?
D: I am actually a huge Instagrammer so I was Instagram and saw a post that ARTEM was looking for new artists in all kinds of fields. So I wrote to them like “Hi, I’m Ditte, I’m 17 years old, I make this” and I just sent it. I thought to myself that they were not going to write back to me because there were a lot of other people applying. So I hoped for it, but I didn’t believe it. Then I received a mail-back saying “We love your stuff” and that’s how we got in touch.
P: And then signature evening number 7 happened! It was a great evening.
D: It was really amazing.
P: Thank you so much for your time. I can’t express enough
Check out Ditte's art on her insta: @_dittebollerup