Artists Painted Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favorite Books

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By: Anuradha

There are various forms of arts and street arts are famous among many as a very liberal form of art. Many street artists love their paintings on abandoned walls, buildings and on streets and these paintings do not only enrich the looks but add more value and taste to the place.

Jan Is De Man is such an artist who is really skilled in street arts and he has his own mission. His aim is to provide lively works for local communities who want to connect by creating projects ‘where everyone can identify themselves’. Most of his paintings reflect the taste of the community that he is working for and you can see his latest painting in Utrecht, Netherlands. The painting depicts a whimsical tri-level trompe l’oeil mural bookcase on an apartment building and he was aided by his fellow artist Deef Feed. Both of them even own a tattoo shop called ‘Blackbook Tattoos’  in the center of Utrecht.

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Image credits: janisdeman

Image credits: janisdeman

Speaking to us Jan Is De Man said, “I know the people who live on the ground floor very well. They’ve wanted a mural by my hand for a while. They also wanted to let me feel free in my design as long as it would bring something positive to their neighborhood. The first idea was to paint a smiley. A very big smiley. Because I believe people become happier when they see a smiley every day. But this idea didn’t feel complete, it felt too simple.”

Image credits: janisdeman

Image credits: maria_postema

After studying his canvas he came up with the idea for an l’oeil mural  – “visual illusion in art, especially as used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object.” He said, “I studied the shape of the house and the location where this house stands in and suddenly the idea of making a huge bookcase hit me. I love making illusions on walls and I like to see smiles on people’s faces and this idea (I thought meanwhile) could bring all this together.”

Image credits: janisdeman

Image credits: janisdeman

He also wanted to involve the residents in the artistic process, “We entered the community by asking people for their favorite books and we were able to put 8 languages and cultures together in the same concept. Everybody, every age, every culture, every language was welcome. The only rule I set up to participate in this art project was: no political books and no religious books. Besides that every book title was welcome.”

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Image credits: elly.colen

De Man and Deef Feed took one week working fulltime to take the idea from paper to the wall of the apartment building. He said the most difficult part was the initial concept planning, “think most of the time the most difficult [part] is to get the right concept, that fits the wall, that fits the neighborhood. but when you got the right idea, then there is not much difficult.”

Image credits: architectuurnl

Image credits: stefanieweijsters

They managed to capture the spirit of the residents and the artists with an array of their favorite books. When asked what his favorite titles on the giant shelf are he responded, ” I am really fond of “ the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime“ written by Mark Haddon And of course the Playboy.”

Image credits: Google Maps

Image credits: maria_postema

Since the mural has been unveiled it has become not only an artistic source to bring the neighbors together but for people stopping to visit for a literary selfie.  “The neighborhood where this work was made is filled with different cultures. And I’ve noticed that this project brought (and hopefully for as long as it lasts) people together without pushing it. They meet each other through books. Regardless of the differences in cultures, regardless of the differences in political point of views. Regardless of being extreme right or extreme left.”

Image credits: maria_postema

Image credits: handhavingutrecht

So what’s up next for this muralist? “there is a lot of things coming, but I don’t like to tell plans, because I believe that if you tell your plans they don’t work. It sounds corny, but in the end, actions speak louder than words.” Well, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

People love this mural a lot too!





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