‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ Picasso once claimed. For Frank de Ruwe, also known as Frankey this problem is totally and utterly non-existing. And although Frank acknowledges the differences and thin lines between styles, trades and professions he also happily ignores these borders and crosses them while smiling politely. He is simply a designer-inventer-artist-advertising creative-technician-food critic*.

For example back in 2005 Frank turned up at the annual Milanese Salone di Mobile in a modified milk truck showcasing his graduation show from the technical university where he had just become a certified product designer. He loved the attention and swiftly came up with numerous follow-ups to this huge success.

To name six: 1. He was the first to go viral with an iPhone coffee-cup holder, attracting attention from the LA Times and NBC. 2. He turned a construction site into an art installation that at one point was granted its own Wikipedia page. 3. He once built an amphibious vehicle for partying below sea level and almost successfully sold it to Snoop Dogg. And to top all that off, he holds a couple of Guinness World Records. 4. One for being the worlds leading stair gliders on a mattress (descending 233 stairs in one go). 5. Another one for jumping through a flaming hoop in a Fiat 500 filled with—wait for it—400 kilos of ‘stunt grapes’. 6. These days he is occupied with the attempt of becoming the worlds first man to skate on water (H2O).

And that’s not all. His creative agency, Natwerk, has grown to become both a household name in Dutch Advertising, yet also still manages to raise eyebrows with the more corporate type ad goons. “I just like making people smile,” says Frankey.

His work has been shown at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and in various exhibitions in USA, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. His first big solo show was in 2018 in New York at the Wallplay gallery and in 2019 he had another solo show in Amsterdam at the O.D. gallery. Resulting in numerous publications. Some boring, some quite interesting, but none really good.

Frankey currently lives and works in Amsterdam. The city where, if you look closely, you can discover his works in unexpected spots. Like a small bronze sculpture of recently deceased and well loved mayor Eberhard van der Laan, right above the entrance of the iconic Paradiso music hall, or the stained glass tribute he made for Johan Cruyff in tram stop number 14 in Amsterdam. Or you might spot a fresh new weekly ‘street art gem’ of his making. In the wild or, in case you missed it, in his own weekly visual column in Dutch newspaper ‘Het Parool’.

Quite a resume, you say. But remember Frankey’s one of those fellows of which my mom always says ‘his hands are already putting together the stuff his mind is thinking of’. So, yeah… not that impressive if you keep that in mind.

*I might have forgotten some of the more important stuff.

Tuesday March 31, 2020

Rufus Ketting, friend and colleague