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Monsters, Freaks and Oddballs


Johan Potma is a Dutch painter and illustrator who works and lives in Berlin, Germany. He uses acrylic on recycled and found materials such as box lids, signs and cigar boxes. His works depict narratives conveyed through his choice of materials and his illustrations of monsters, freaks and oddballs. His works are fun, witty and peculiar, each entailing the adventures of different fantastical creatures. 

We asked him some questions about his artistic practice and he responded with reasons for his choices.  

What is the purpose of your works?

As far as my commercial work goes the purpose of my work is to make me some money and to convey a clear message for the client that booked me to do the artwork. As far as my personal work goes, I think it does not necessarily serve a purpose other than to entertain me, my thoughts and my audience.

What do the monsters and furry creatures represent? Do they hold personal significance?

They are chosen to tell the stories I come up with. Using monsters means, I have no restrictions in storytelling. There are no wrongly designed characters. So nobody is worried with that stuff… It all becomes about the substance of the story

No gut, No Glory, 2016

No gut, No Glory, 2016

You have a very distinctive style, that is reminiscent of Shaun Tan. How did you develop your artistic style? How long did it take?

I have always drawn in this style I guess. Always had a fascination with characters. It has taken me about 25 years to get where I am now, but I think it is always in development… It will hopefully never come to a point where I fully know what I am doing.

You seem to have a recurring colour palette. What gravitated you to these colours?

The colours just come naturally without giving it too much thought. I do not do colour studies before starting a painting. The whole process is me problem solving my way to the point where I decide that the painting is done and I can start working on the next one.

It’s Been a While, 2016

It’s Been a While, 2016

What inspired your use of recycled materials?

I have a love for the old and wonky. So the use of these materials come from that. I am always on the hunt at flea markets for interesting objects and materials to work with.

Which artwork took the longest to create?

My daughter, nine months is a long time for a person with no patience to wait for something ;)

Which one did you have the most fun creating and why?

Again, my daughter :)

a Heartwarming Gesture, 2015

a Heartwarming Gesture, 2015

Joey is a student in year 10. I like art, music, food and sports. I find art very captivating and inspiring in all its differing forms, I especially love Johan's works as each one is distinctive and unique to his style, resembling a fantasy world of endless possibilities. 



You can see more of Johan Potma's work:

Drawing Book Portfolio

Johan Potma website