1. Design & Illustration
  2. Inspiration

Interview with Abstract Artist Rik Oostenbroek


Rik is an artist that takes pride in his unique and abstract work. He fills his work with vibrant imagery to remind himself that the world itself is still joyful. Rik also explains his designing philosophy, and gives advice to designers who are looking to create their own unique styles, which he has done successfully.

1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.

Hi there guys, thanks a lot for inviting me for such a nice opportunity! I am Rik Oostenbroek, 19 year old graphic designer from the Netherlands. People might know me as Nkeo or SecretShowcase as well.

I grew up in the Media City of the Netherlands and came in touch with design when I was 15 years old. That was the day I met someone, who would be a friend of mine later and he was doing some weird things with this Program called Photoshop. At that time I never heard of it actually and he showed me some stuff people did with that program.

Art never interested me actually, but I always had it in me for some reason. Whenever I got out of school, I always ran to the computer to play games.

Whenever I got bored of a game, I launched Microsoft Paint, and made my own CD covers with cheap 2d characters which were inspired by South Park. From the time I saw these amazing abstract designs people did, I fell in love. I wondered if I’d ever get into this field without the help of my friend. From that point on I started doing abstract shapes, without knowing about layers or the rules of designing.

The design became a bit serious for me at the start of 2006. More people liked my work and I tried to experiment a bit, to become a little more diverse. A lot of things have happened since I was accepted as a DepthCore artist. Now I'm sitting here as freelance designer, trying to build up a career, thinking more seriously about concepts and trying to build up a unique style and trying to cross my boundaries.

2. The majority of your work seems to be Abstract Art, what exactly draws you to that field, as opposed to other genres?

Actually I've been working on other fields lately, but good abstract always caught my eye. I guess I started that style because I never knew there were other styles back then. Every abstract piece has a story for me, I guess that's what is so attractive about that style. Whenever you ask a good abstract artist to do a piece built on a theme of your choice; you’ll see a huge difference in the approach every artist has to that theme.

Of course, whenever you ask a designer about a photo manipulation theme, there would be a difference as well, but I guess it would be way closer to each other. Abstract art could be used for eternity and there are so many different ways of abstract art, it's not just a trendy style people do for a few years and forget about later.

It's just a style without boundaries in my opinion.

3. Most of your designs are not only abstract but also collages with things like text, shapes, stocks, and other resources clumped together. Since the possibilities are endless with this type of design how do you know exactly when you are done?

Ah yes that's my recent style. I do actually never know for sure when they done. One thing I always check is the balance. I flatten an image and flip it horizontal to see if the sides have the same amount of things in it as the other. I’ve been having a problem lately with seeing when a piece is finished or not, I have so many 90% finished pieces lying around here.

4. When looking at your work I notice that the majority of it is full of bright color and life. So what exactly inspires you to create such vivid designs?

It might sound quite a bit Emo, but most of the time I do that to remind me of the joy life has, since I don’t see that everyday.

Just to keep myself in a positive mindset. I just want to keep life joys all day long and I see my own work as a reminder whenever I look to one of my prints in my room.

I Had a Weird Dream Last Night

5. When looking at a design like "Visual Playground" I cant help but wonder what the process was in the development of this design. So please give us some insight on your journey in making this incredibly vivid illustration.

Ha-ha this one is quite hard to tell, since it was just a bunch of different inspirations that helped me create this piece. I spent less then three hours on it. This is one of those pieces with a positive thought behind it again by the way. Joakim Olaussen gave me a render to work with, which was quite hard for me since I never really worked with renders, but I made some black shapes over it and it looked like a landscape in my eyes.

From that point on I just went crazy, that's the reason why it's called "Visual Playground". Since I felt that this piece was just some old school freestyle thing for me, I just did what popped up in my mind.

Doing circles, lines, a few stocks, textures. Nothing special happened in the progress, no layer masks, no adjustments, everything is just done easily the way you see it.

The fun thing is, I always listen to the same track while doing one design whenever I'm in the zone. My mind set on zero, no thought, totally into your design, thinking you're the best in the world (at that moment), doing everything you want to, no fear, no boundaries, good music, drink, food and with this one song going boom boom! That's the way I did this piece.

I call this one of my pieces that takes me back to the old days, when my designs weren’t popular and serious at all.

A concept less journey it was, but a fun journey that I wont forget.

Visual Playground

6. Your style is unique and one of a kind. What advice would you give an artist who is trying to find his own unique approach to designing?

Ha-ha it's quite strange for me to hear my style is unique, but thanks a lot man! I'm still looking for a unique approach as well and I guess everyone does. It's not fun to stick with one style for too long in my opinion, you have to learn and move on. That's what I'm doing recently, trying to come up with a new style and try not to repeat everything I did piece by piece, since my old pieces felt a bit to childish to me.

Discovering and owning a style is hard, I never did that as well as I wanted to.

I guess it's just about caring about your own design and not comparing yourself to other artists.

There will be always better designers around who are better than you in many ways with their designs.

Whenever I talk with my heroes in design, they show me illustrations by their hero's and I guess those hero's have heroes as well and so on.

Just do whatever you like, do what you like most, do what others do as well but in a different or special way!

Don't destroy yourself by comparing yourself with others, set your mind on zero and do what your heart tells you to do.

Lektro Lektro

7. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you, any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?

Thank you as well Emil! Don't think to much about what you do, just do whatever you feel like. You shouldn’t care that much about the opinions other people have about your work, there will always be people around you who are going to dislike your work. It's not fun to say but there are always people that are going to be “better” in a way, but you shouldn’t make that your concern. Thanks and I hope this interview isn’t that boring Ha-ha! Feel free to contact me at! Rik Oostenbroek.

Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.