Who is Bas?

Who is Bas?

Bas is a typical Dutch name, often short for Bastiaan, or Sebastiaan (not in my case). It’s not quite pronounced like Boss or Buzz, technically not Bahs, although that’s what most American call me. So I tell people it’s like the fish, or the beer.

I’m an artist and stay-at home-dad, as well as a beer league hockey goalie and active volunteer at school and in cub scouts.

Bas painting live at a dog adoption event.
Bas painting live at a dog adoption event.

What did you want to be when you were young?

Well, I wanted to be some kind of artist. Depending on the day you asked me it could have been a drummer, movie director, FX makeup artist or a fashion designer…

However, in my family, business was the ideal and artists were talented, but financially challenged people, so art was no career option.

I grew up in the East of The Netherlands in a small town.

My father was a very creative person, but expressed it in product development and entrepreneurship. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, she plays the piano and paints too.

I studied marketing, figuring that I might be able to leap from marketing to advertising. That never happened. In fact, by the end of college I barely created any art or played any music anymore. I focused on a corporate career in business and marketing…

Fast forward fifteen years, I’m on an airplane home from a big project, burnt out, tired and feeling depleted. I was also often irritable. I wanted to quit.

I had never been without a full-time job, so I kept trying to figure out what to do instead.

That’s when I realized that I had unfulfilled dreams. I had forgotten to be creative

My new career had to stick to a few rules. It had to be somewhat commercial, even if it was artistic, It had to be possible to do from home and I wanted to be self-employed. (I had been self-employed for the better part of the past 15 years).

I started drawing again.

My initial thought was to become a tattoo artist, but the path to become one is through apprenticeship that starts with cleaning and working the front desk of a tattoo shop for no pay. As a forty-something I couldn’t get myself to do someone’s dirty work for them, either teach me to tattoo or not. Also, most tattoo shops are open late and on the weekends, so that wouldn’t work with my goal to spend more time with my family.

Then I found Mel Fox from Rat Art Studios, a seasoned airbrush, pinstripe and hand lettering artist. He taught me how to airbrush and got me drawing and painting again.

Being Bas, the happy artist.

I’m willing to use your artistic skills for a commercial purpose. Sure, when I get tired of airbrushing what others want, I grab my traditional brushes and make a painting of something that inspires me. Those paintings are the ones I hang in the gallery I belong to, but if they sell or not I don’t care so much. Creating them is what matters more than selling them.

That said, being an artist is not big business, but I’ve never been happier than I am now. That’s no real surprise though. Ask anyone about the happiest moment in their life and rarely will anyone mention money. They do mention falling in love, their wedding day, the birth of a child. Doing what you like makes you happy.

Now I get to be at home, make my own hours, spend time with my family. I can say no to projects that don’t interest me, but I take on fun projects and I get to paint for money.

This is happiness.