Who are you?
My name is Merel Ana, born and raised in Amsterdam Bijlmer, 24 years old and a Willem de Kooning Academy graduate. At this very moment I make illustrations, paintings, murals, tattoos, customize clothing and I design socks.
Could you elaborate upon your two greatest passions, art and fashion? Which appeals to you most?
From my point of view, fashion could be classified as ’art’ as well, or at least it is quite similar to it. Especially when I talk about haute couture, which I love the most about fashion. When you think about the catwalk shows of - for example - Comme des Garcons, Undercover, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Viktor & Rolf, Iris van Herpen (and maaaaany more) fashion is very comparable to art. Therefore it’s also hard to choose between art and fashion because in my opinion its part of the same thing: creating beautiful things. But if I have to choose, I would go for art, because in art you have endless possibilities.
What is fashion according to Merel Ana? Why does aeuoeu match with your fashion beliefs?
Fashion is the art of wearing things, I guess. How to make progressive, original, good-looking clothes, how to combine them, how to wear them. It’s all in the details. I think fashion is something you could express yourself in (sounds corny, I know, but it’s true), so you wear whatever you like, in the way you like, and you can have preferences when it comes to brands. Some brands you really feel attracted to, and some you would never wear, because of their tone of voice, style or their target audience. It’s weird that it can actually tell a lot about you which brands you’re attracted to, except when some brands become a hype and everyone starts to wear it. Like the Thrasher-hype for example, which is a skateboard brand, while 95% of the people that wear it now never touched a skateboard. But I think we should choose more wisely and instead of being a billboard for brands and acting cool because we wear particular brands, wear things that show who you are and what you like as a person or what your beliefs are. aeuoeu shows that it’s not important nor necessary to wear brands, which is a good thing, and is something I could learn from myself as well. If you like everything about the cap, why on earth should there be a logo on it? And by giving the brand an impossible name to pronounce, aeuoeu shows that the branding of the brand itself isn’t important, but the products are.
If you could go back in time, would you choose for another route with the knowledge you have know?
Maybe I would. I think I would have skipped the art academy, actually. I didn’t really learn something, I only got bashed by my teachers all the time. It didn’t work out for me. It might have been better for me that I went to university and kept art as an intensive hobby. You don’t need a certificate to make art or to be appreciated. As long as your work and your network are good, you’re fine. Often its even just about the connections and your work doesn’t really matter. The art world is pretty weird.
Who would you like to show most what you have achieved so far (i.e. the teacher who never truly believed in you, a family member, your jealous friend, an ex-boyfriend)?
That’s without any doubt my father, who is not with us anymore, unfortunately. I always cared about his opinion the most. As long as my father was happy, I was happy. He always gave me the best advices. It became harder for me to make (the right) choices now he’s not alive anymore. Even though my mom took over that position now, its not the same as it used to be. But after my dad, I really care about what my mother thinks about every step I make because she is such an incredibly intelligent and interesting person. I really look up to her. And last but not least: I’d like to show myself what I have achieved. I always have to prove myself to myself.
What are you most proud of with regards to your career so far?
Maybe it sounds a bit weird or rude, but actually nothing really. I am not quickly satisfied and have incredibly high standards. I can be sorta happy with some things I did or created, but I guess I’m too down to earth and maybe too ambitious to be proud of myself, ever. But it’s not by definition a bad thing, I don’t feel bad because of that. Maybe if my work would be exhibited in Tate Modern or MOMA I would be proud, but no doubt I’d still play it down, haha.
There's still a relatively long way to go in order to become the next Banksy. What should your next step be? Will that be your actual next step?
I’m swimming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at this very moment. No clue which direction to go to. But I think my next step will be an exhibition. I really have to push myself to make that happen, but one day it will be there, I’m sure about that.