art_kit_logo_twaBy MARIE LANDINGIN.


Ever wondered what it would be like to study art after high school? Is photography and design your jam? Meet 17-year-old Kees Bakker (Kees pronounced “like suitcase without the suit, so just Case”) – from Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. Or as he describes himself, Kees Bakker, “coffee addict, workaholic and all that comes with being a crazy and motivated artist.”


What are you up to at the moment?

I am a full-time student studying graphic design at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in Auckland.


When did you discover your passion for art?

I was brought up surrounded by creative people in a Waldorf School. This school has alternative educational principles that push for artistic development in their students. In primary school I had been encouraged to express myself through art – this is where I discovered my passion for art.


Who or what inspires your work?

There are a many artists that stand out to me and the list would go on forever, so I’ll give you three to look at. Alex Pardee (freelance graphic/comic artist), Kyle Thompson (self-taught photographer) and an idol of mine, Peter Jackson with his amazing film series, The Lord of the Rings.


What themes or styles do you pursue in your work?

I like to work with a variety of themes and aesthetics. I am still at the stage of discovering what area I want to specialise in. However, I have a strong liking for high fantasy, horror/dark themes and documentary photography.


Of all the works you have done, which is your favourite and why?

Oh goodness, that’s hard to answer. This is a recent photograph I took at the TPPA protest in Auckland (see photo of motorcyclist below). I feel I have captured true emotion and character in the photo. Other than that, colour pops out, I like that. I like things that stand out.


In your opinion, what is the best thing about photography and design, and why?

There is this rewarding feeling I get when I am back from a shoot and know I captured the shot I wanted – or when I’ve finished a drawing/painting and I stand back and know it’s complete. It’s like winning the Lotto. It’s very rewarding.


How would you describe your journey to where you are now?

The journey, well it’s been a rollercoaster of failures and successes filled with stressful situations. I have a vague idea of where I want to go and that’s the most exciting thing about it!


What is it like going to an arts and design school?

It’s different, exciting and lots of hard work. Studying at an art school is like being in a small community. Everyone is unique, very welcoming and friendly. I am very new here so I hope to find more like-minded people to be my friends.


If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Having the super power of immortality! So I can better myself by learning new stuff, or doing charitable works and trying new foods. I love food.


What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to finish art school with my degree while on the way pushing myself to network and create a client portfolio. So I can get a job doing what I love. Let’s hope I do.


What would your top piece of advice be to budding artists out there?

The best advice I can give is to fail. Because you won’t find where you want to go with your art/design if you don’t try new things and fail. It’s just getting over that fear of failure, which I am still tackling head on. Keep creating.

Don’t forget to check out Kees’ Facebook page, @keesbakkerarts, and his online portfolio!

If you have any other young artists you’d love Tearaway to interview, get in touch! E-mail: [email protected]