Lot Madeleine – “My passion is really in my free work”
Lot Madeleine is a writer, tattoo artist and graphic designer. With her distinct style, she has already managed to put herself in the spotlight of major brands such as Bugaboo and adidas. Recently she also designed the label of the Eigen Baas Bier from Kees de Boekhouder. In everything she does, she tries to mold her internal dialogue into puzzle-like quotes, reflecting on her immediate environment.
How does your free work come about?
It always arises from text, reflections and coincidences. When my book (Correct me, I’m Wrong, 2017) was released, American Bookstore didn’t really know how to classify it; as poetry, art or graphic design?
And how did the tattooing come about?
About eight years ago I made a design for a friend. We went to this tattoo artist who specialized in Stick and Poke (a special technique for tattooing where the tattoo is poked into your skin by hand, dot by dot, red). He said, “Hey Lot, your style is a great match for Stick and Poke, maybe you should try doing it yourself.” After that it gradually became a more substantial part of my free work.
How would a fulltime working week look for you?
I will be tattooing twice a week from the end of August and I’m really looking forward to it! I also work at an advertising agency (TBWA/NEBOKO) three days a week, where I do a lot of work for adidas. So I have enough time left to do some free work, like murals, window drawings, drawings on wood and designs for tattoos.
Where do you get your greatest inspiration or ideas from?
At first I was very inspired by what’s happening on the streets in the big city and what other artists or people are doing. But lately, in addition to the personal stories people tell me when I tattoo them, I draw more and more from self-reflection and parenthood. In the latter you are continuously confronted with how you manifest yourself, as a parent and as a person. And especially on a deeply personal level. It’s as if a mirror is being held up to you.
Your book Correct me – I’m wrong states you embrace the challenges of a postmodern existence in a metropolitan environment. Can you explain that? What are your challenges?
Looking back at that time, sometimes I was easily influenced by what others were doing. In the city I was constantly alert, because of all the stimuli. So the challenge for me has always been: how do I maintain my own identity with so much competition and inspiration around me? I think now that I left the city I’m less confronted with what other artists are doing. I am much more dependent on my own creativity now.
And what is it like to strike a balance between commercial assignments and your own work?
Actually, I have a very simple answer for you: all the commercial work I do, I do without my ego. So I can also adapt very easily to a client’s wishes when I work at the advertising agency. Do they need more blue? Then I add more blue.
But adidas, which I’m on now, also does really great projects, including themes like gender identity. Those kinds of projects are very interesting to me. When they get involved in those social discussions as a large influential company, I hope my work, through them, can contribute a little bit to that as well.
In addition, as Lot Madeleine I also have commercial work, collabs, in which I sometimes have to make concessions. But of course I do try to put my own stamp on it. The ‘Eigen Baas Bier’ label is an example of this. And then there’s my real free work -including designing tattoos- where I can do anything I want. My passion is really in my free work.
Doing all these different things also makes it easier for me to do commercial work.
It makes me care less if the client wants to make changes in my work. With my commercial work I actually create that freedom and that balance.
JYou have collaborated with big brands like Bugaboo, how did you get there? And what was your dream job?
I think my dream job was with Bugaboo. I just sent them an e-mail and they asked me to come over for an interview right away. Due to their acquisition by an American company, we couldn’t design a whole collection, but just one design. They gave me one of those and we are still using it till this day!
It’s like the Dutch saying ‘Wie niet waagt, wie niet wint’, if you don’t dare to ask you won’t win. I just email companies: ‘Hey, I have an idea, can we do a collaboration?’ Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I also wanted to design a cargo bike, but so far I haven’t been able to haha. Another dream would be to do a collaboration with a skate brand.
How do you like doing business? How do you do it?
I’m honestly not that good at it. I’m good at concepting, making things and then arranging it all. But selling it… that’s where it always breaks down for me. For example with my book: I had arranged everything, found a very nice publisher, made a beautiful book, but it all came to a halt in pr. I give it all the energy I have and when it’s ready, I want to move on to another idea.
Ok, so what does success mean to you? You clearly don’t measure it by the amount of books you sell.
That’s right. If you sell 40,000 books, you’ve probably made something that resonates with many people, but the most important question is whether that makes you happy yourself, of course. Success for me is having control or freedom over what you want to make or do. If I am completely me and I can do what I want then I consider that successful life.
And what are you doing now?
Now I am mainly busy creating symbols and quotes for my tattoos. I love that, the whole philosophy behind tattooing. I now design all kinds of intuitive symbols, inspired by all symbols that exist and just forms in combination with lines.