This is the second extract from an interview with Teun
van der Heijden, the designer of Stanley Greene's book, Black
The real boom in photobooks designed by Dutch designers
is a recent phenomenon. Hans Gremmen, SYB, Kummer &
Herrman, Mevis & Van Deursen, William
Zoetendaal and Yourself are among the international elite. How
do you relate to the Dutch design tradition?
"When I became excited about photography, I stepped into a world
where a special relationship between photographer and graphic
designer was not very common. I knew there was a Dutch design
tradition but I never found my place in it. This has a lot to do
with my own background. It was never part of my upbringing and I
had a lot of difficulty becoming part of the Dutch graphic design
culture. On the one hand it intrigued me greatly but I also enjoy
working with people I know. I kept doing commercial
assignments which in the end did not satisfy me. I was
looking for something else but I didn´t know what. Until I found
photography and I developed a tremendous passion for that ".
You have developed a very personal style and work more
like a film director: you keep an overview, but are also very keen
on detail. And you make dramatic choices.
"Yes, things have come together. The first time I realized this
was when I worked on a book with Martijn van
de Griendt about Herman Brood. I was not happy with the edit we
made together because it was mainly chronological. So one night I
made a completely new edit. The next day I had to explain what I
had done. I was already playing with the notion of cinematic
editing and with that in mind I told Martijn, "It's music, it's
Herman Brood, it's rock 'n roll, a video clip on paper". A few
months later, a review in the Dutch national newspaper De
Volkskrant said, 'The book looks like a music video'. It made me
think, 'I can do this, it is only something stupid like sliding
pictures, but I can do it'. That was a discovery. "
You also do exhibitions, which of course is different
from a book. Why did you start with that?
"I volunteered at Fotofestival Naarden in part because I wanted
to know more about the Dutch photography world. I could turn my
interest in photography and the narrative into something other than
just flat paper.
I also did an exhibition on the Chechen War, which
included work by Stanley Greene. The original curator had
pulled out just after receiving the funds, so all of a sudden I was
a curator. After that I got involved with Kadir van
Lohuizen. He did projects with NGOs, had seen how I worked and
was interested in getting me involved in his Diamond Matters
project. I pushed the budget and used it to make both an exhibition
and a book. Diamond Matters was later also on show at Foam.
The third part of this interview
will follow on Monday.