10. Pieter Snijders – Bold Statements ?️ Letterer, Sign Painter & Designer

For the podcast series, my friend and letterer Pieter Snijders from Bold Statements gave a really nice interview. Please read all about it below.

Who are you, what do you do and what’s your big, scary hairy goal?

My name is Pieter Snijders and I am the letterer behind the label Bold Statements. I have a background as a designer and illustrator of educational games, apps and museum installations. I still like doing that, for twenty-plus years now I get up every day with a smile upon my face to go to work.

However, a few years ago I felt the need to create more analog work, like I learned when I studied design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven (NL). In my spare time I created some illustrations combined with hand drawn typography. I had never heard of ‘hand lettering’ before, but that was what I did apparently.

My lettering artwork raised some interest and before I knew it I was creating commercial work, writing chalkboards, painting murals and teaching workshops, next to my day job as a digital designer. Opposed to what I was taught at the Design Academy, I like to sugar coat my designs with lots of special effects and details, like some kind of Willy Wonka. The top hat in my logo refers to that and also to the vintage feel I like to give my designs.

If you would ask me to design a logo, don’t expect something with Helvetica and a black and white pictogram. The passion and attention to detail that I put into my work appeals to entrepreneurs who have that same passion for their service or product. With my designs they can make a bold statement to express that passion. In the past years I have created several designs for restaurants, food trucks, food products, fashion labels, bands and shops.

Soon after I dived into hand lettering I found out there was a revival of hand painted signage going on. The craft of sign painting or sign writing almost disappeared since the arrival of computer, printers and vinyl stickers. Fortunately, people nowadays appreciate look and feel of handmade stuff again. Sign painters say: ‘If you want it perfect, use a computer. If you want something with character, hire a sign painter.’ 

Ever since I followed my first workshop the craft of sign painting is my biggest passion. Unfortunately, there is almost no formal education left. Luckily there are some experienced painters who have had their formal training in the past and who are willing to pass on their knowledge and skill to others via workshops. With the money I earn with lettering I try to follow as many workshops and learn and practice as much as I can to develop my skills.

 As for big, scary, hairy goals; I am very blessed that I can tick off quite some bucket list items already. I am very happy that I have a job I enjoy doing and a passion that generates some extra income to be able to do nice things like visiting international Letterheads Meets. The extra money also made it possible to accomplish my childhood dream recently; I bought a small, vintage car to customise. I always thought I wanted a big American car, but when I found this tiny, cute Renault 4 Fourgonnette (mini van) I knew that this was what would fit me best. So at the moment I feel I am at a point where my main goal is to keep doing what I enjoy doing. Not so big and scary, but quite a calming idea actually.

What are your thoughts on Multipotentialism? Are you a Multi and do you have any tips for the overwhelm many Multi’s experience?

I am convinced that it is always good to try out new things to discover what works best for you and what sparks your positive energy. However, in the long run I don’t think the idea of Multipotentialism works for me. I get very discouraged of the idea to have to excel in multiple fields of expertise. If you want to become really good at something and find your niche, I think focus and dedication are very important. By putting hours and hours of practice into crafts like lettering and sign painting you develop a good eye and muscle memory.

How do you tackle having many ideas? 

Inspiration is everywhere and it is very hard to stop a creative mind from generating new ideas. Especially at night ideas can get out of hand easily; I once read that the human brain lacks a certain chemical or hormone at night which makes it hard to relativize thoughts and ideas. It can be a good thing to put ideas away for a while and take a look at them at a later moment to spot the flaws. So I make small notes of my ideas to save them for days with enough spare time.  Every now and then I rearrange the list of ideas and clean out the bad ones. It gives me a lot of peace of mind not wanting to execute everything immediately.

In your own creative journey: What is or has been your biggest struggle/challenge (e.g. any of the Syndromes like Imposter, Shiny Object and/or Superman/Superwoman) and how do you handle it?

People tell me I am too modest most of the time. I still have trouble adding the right value to my work. It is very hard to quote the right amount of money for hand crafted quality. Especially when you are starting out and it takes a lot of time to create things. It really helps to notice that I am gaining more skill over the years, so I can do the same amount of work (and deliver the same or even better level of quality) in less time, compared to when I started out.

Another thing that helped me gain confidence was to develop my own label and branding. I guess a company name like Bold Statements and picking red as my brand colour puts me out of my own comfort zone as well, hahaha. It is easier to communicate about pricing on behalf of a company than as an individual. Also, I once heard some good advice from sign painter Mike Meyer which I take to heart: Always present yourself as a crafts person, never as an artist. People tend to think artists work solely out of passion for their art, so they must have little interest in earning money. If you present yourself as a professional, people are more likely to pay a reasonable price.

How are you enjoying the creative community? What’s the best thing about a creative community?

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It can be very time consuming if you don’t pay attention, time I rather spend on creating new stuff. However, I have met hundreds or maybe thousands of very nice, like-minded creatives over the past few years. Something that would never have happened without Instagram.

Especially the global sign painting community is a very supportive community. The motto of the annual international Letterheads events is ‘Leave your ego at the door’, which makes it a very relaxing environment to meet new people and learn new techniques.

Where can people find you (socials, website, etc.)? 

You can follow my latest activities on Facebook and Instagram via @boldstatements.nl or find an overview of my work and my workshop agenda on boldstatements.nl

In my webshop you can also find my booklet ‘Shaded Letters’ about 3D lettering effects, an all original Bold Statements ‘Fuck ‘em all’ jigsaw puzzle and some other merch.

If you are interested in learning how to paint letters, I have an extensive online tutorial on lettering-daily.com with an accompanying video that gives a good impression of the process. However, online tutorials can never replace a live workshop, so if you ever get the chance, please visit a live workshop sometime.

For more info, see: https://www.bold-statements.com/links/

Do you have a quote you would like to share? 

My quote of the day would be: The bolder, the better!