"The human race has always wanted to break through the natural limitations of being human".
People have always loved talking about how the future will look like, usually with wildly high expectations. Whether it being how quickly the human race is able to develop technology, build an entire society in space or merge ourselves with machines to function better as humans, the interest for using tools to self-develop has been around for thousands of years.
For some it seems wildly unlikely to happen in the near future and Sci-Fi films like A Space Odyssey and Terminator are quick to be deemed as highly unrealistic, but the truth is that they’re closer to the future scenario for the human race than we think.
After all, pacemakers, prosthetics and self-parking cars are all part of our everyday life and these inventions are slowly making humans and human abilities merge with those of the mechanical without us noticing.
The somewhat dramatic ideas of the future have been visualized in a softer artistic drawing style by an artist that also has a name for these developments; most of Illustrator Olf De Bruin‘s futuristic-inspired drawings are a creative take on how our world and species could potentially look like in the future. He explained his visualization of our slow steps into transhumanism, the potential future state of mankind and what it feels like being a colorblind illustrator.
BS: Hi Olf – You’re a very mysterious man to to research as most of the information about you is in Dutch. Could you tell us a bit about who you are and how you found out you wanted to be an illustrator? Well, I’m not trying to be a mysterious man but thanks! My name is Olf and I’m a Dutch illustrator based in Amsterdam. I graduated in 2015 at the HKU University of Arts Utrecht, so I’ve been doing this thing for a year now and it’s going very well. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment where I knew I wanted to be an illustrator, but I always knew I wanted to draw for a living. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life, but the absolute certainty came when I was working on my book VanBollebasttotVoortprinter.
Tell me about your work process. Your work isn’t exactly the typical modern illustration, so how do you go about with the technical stuff? I always start with sketching. I love to sketch and it helps me create things I never would have thought of before. After I’ve got the right sketch, which could take somewhere between three to 100 sketches, I start the real drawing. It’s just pen on paper, always on A4 or A5 because I like to take my drawings everywhere I go in my backpack. The coloring I do is on my computer because I’m colorblind and want to be able to change my mind when I’m coloring.
Through stalking your Instagram I can tell that you keep coming back to eyes, birds and merging humans with animals. Why is that? Honestly, I don’t really know why that is. All I know is that I like these shapes and colors. It has the right amount of weirdness to it, which suits my style perfectly.
Tell us about which one of the little creatures is your favourite and why? This is a hard one, it’s like asking a mom for her favorite child! I’ll have to say The Baronest. The Baronest creature is about expanding your brain capacity and she’s using her own kids for it. Each time she gives birth to a child, the child climbs up from the vagina to the pouches around the mother’s neck. In these pouches, the kid connects to the mother’s central nerve system and crystalizes for protection. That way the mothers brain capacity is expanded and she becomes smarter than before. It’s like plugging in a harddisk for your PC.
What I like about The Baronest is that it’s taking the abstract idea of expanding your brain capacity and coming up with a solution for it in a freaky and weird way. I also really like her esthetics and the colors.
In your illustration book Van Bollebast tot Voortprinter you’ve created six new species of humans. Are they adapted to current or future social/scientific developments? Tell me about a couple of them.
Yeah, the book is all about social and scientific developments. The Baronest that we talked about earlier is one of them and she definitely falls into the category of scientifically questioning if there’s a limit to our brain and if it’s expandable.
There’s also The Voortprinter, a cute little transhuman which can 3D-print it’s own babies and The Zeekopje, a swimming transhuman that eats plastic soup and digests it with a special pyrolyisis stomach (pyrolysis is a proces which can turn plastic back into usable oils) and therefore underlining the problem of our plastic consumption that could severely ruin the environment.
So transhumanism might not be as far away as we think. Are we already becoming transhuman with certain ear-, leg- and microchip implants now available to us? Well that is the question and I don’t really have an answer to it, but I see that as a possibility, yes. I’ve read about a colorblind artist who hears color through a camera and computer planted in his head, so that’s a nice start towards transhumanism. The same way that every time I walk outside without my cellphone, it feels like I’m missing a limb. The human race has always wanted to break through the natural limitations of being human, so in that way you can say that we’ve been transhuman with the first piece of tool we ever picked up.
If you could choose one transhuman feature to have yourself, which one would it be? ( I would definitely choose something to be fixed with my eyes, i’m nearly blind without contacts…) Microscopic eyes would definitely be cool, but with me being colorblind the thing I would love the most would be to see more colors. Sometimes I feel limited in my RGB sight, and it makes me think that it would be so cool to see more colors and experience that, especially with my line of work.
It seems like we’re in fast development already, so what do you think the human race will look like in a 100 years? Definitely not like the transhumans I’ve created, but I think there will be some of the creatures’ features that will appear in the future. Especially the extended brain function or printing live organisms are things I both could see and would like to see happen.
If you could give advice to the 10 year old you, what would it be? That’ll be a lot of things, like how I should’ve listen more to others, or not being so insecure about myself. Believing in myself and my talent. But at the same time, those experiences and not doing these things is what made me who I am.
– Lastly, what is the one thing you feel like I should have asked you during this interview? Maybe my future goals? ’Cause I’d like to get my illustrations printed on an airplane. Also I’d like to design Kanye West’s next album cover.