Michiel Nagtegaal (1974) is a Freelance UX Designer / Illustrator. He is also an artist working under the moniker of Mr. Upside. Based in Voorburg, The Netherlands where he also runs a small art gallery.

As far as education concerned he graduated from college and then stopped. The educational system in the Netherlands is a bit different from other countries, he believes. After a school for children with an up until 12 (called ‘Lower school’), an extended education (‘Middle School’) until 17 or 18 is mandatory. The latter is compatible with what college is in the US. He decided to continue studying Graphic Design but dropped out of school due to a lack of motivation.

He started working and in his spare time he co-founded a party organisation. They hosted house parties. To promote the parties, flyers where needed. he designed several and with those flyers in his portfolio and some illustrations he applied for a job at a small advertising agency. He was hired. Michiel’s colleagues taught him everything on Graphic Design he needed to know.

When internet came widely available, he moved to a large internet company and worked as a visual designer for major brands. In his spare time he also co-founded an internet company and after one year with the larger internet company he quit his job and started working full time on his own internet company. In 2007 he wanted more creative freedom and left the growing company to peruse a freelance career.

Now, several years later, he would like to have even more creative freedom. That’s why he started painting, while still doing UX design work for clients. We have conducted an interview with him today.

Mr. Upside

Mr. Upside

How has your Dutch background inspire your creative imaginations for art?

The Dutch are world famous for their Dutch Design, which is mostly Graphic and Product Design. So when you grow up as a kid who likes drawing, it is almost inevitable you get in touch with Dutch Design. This heritage, together with a career in Graphic Design results in a passion for clean lines, composition and attention to detail. This combination heavily influences my current art projects.

What genre you paint mostly and what instruments are your favorite?

I mostly work on abstract paintings. The lines form a visual language. The message conveyed is, with abstract work, always up to the viewer. I recently picked up the acrylic paint markers again. The color consistency and ability to work fast are the main reasons to use them. For the larger paintings,which I like to give a more authentic feel, I use the regular brushes and acrylic paint.

Where have your work been exhibited so far?

In the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Sweden.

What process you go through within before and during creating the painting?

Most of the time I skip the part with the preliminary sketches and start putting lines on a canvas directly. Then, in approximately three to four layers I position the lines and white spaces as I feel appropriate. Sometimes, when I am almost done I decide to change the colors.

For the business side of the painting it should be wise to plan ahead a bit more and finish a painting quicker, but I expect this to limit my creativity. Maybe in the future and by painting more often, I’ll speed up the process a bit.

What advise would you give to upcoming artists in terms of balancing the creativity and earning money from it?

Commerce is considered a bit of a dirty word for artist. I disagree because the ability to make a living from it, means that you don’t have to ‘waste’ time doing something secondary to keep painting. But earning money from art should not be the main goal. The main goal should be to make awesome work. The money will follow once you make awesome work.