At 38, Dutch Boris Tellegen’s work has appeared on record sleeves for Carl Craig and DJ Vadim, streetwear labels like Stussy, in arcade games, and as vinyl toys like his limited ed Radar. A pioneer of the European graff scene, he was one of the first to develop his futurist 3-dimensional typographic style and while he still has work out there on the street you’re also as likely to see this Dutch master exhibiting his art on canvas, as large 3D constructivist wall sculptures and intricate collages in galleries in major world capitals. But that was all after JUICE met him in 2005. Calling himself Delta, as early back as when Transformers was still a kids’ cartoon programme, Boris kick started his career spraying up walls with his jump out distinctive 3D forms and sketching robots. So like a robot from the future, JUICE went back in time (Terminator if you don’t get the reference – duh) and dug up this interview for you to compute. Bloop. Bleep.
So how do you describe what you do?
I would call myself an artist.
How did your journey to becoming an artist begin?
I started as a graffiti artist, and then I did engineering (industrial design). After I graduated I decided I didn’t wanna do an engineering job, or computer work, so I thought, ‘graphic designer’? But it grew into what I’m doing now.
We can see the influence engineering has had on your work. Are you into architecture too?
Um, it’s just by a little step. I always had an interest in architecture. I’ve always had a soft spot for those kind of old buildings.
Your work has a very cold, mechanical feel. It’s very minimalist and unorganic. Quite the opposite of Mode2’s work for example.
Yeah, yeah I guess so. My work is very city-like, very architectural, but sort of unorganic at the same time. It’s like it’s organized, but still chaotic. People think that they organize everything, but in the end they don’t at all.
We love your robots sculptures.
Yeah, it’s kinda cool. It’s human-like art without any humans. I think that’s fascinating.
As an artist, how do you develop a style that is recognisable without setting certain parameters or limits on your work?
The limits are always very important. You need limits to work. The more rules, the better. The more rules, the more defined the work will be. Otherwise it will be very broad. So actually I think a lot of artists do make a really narrow set of rules for themselves. By that I mean, not rules set by other people, just their own rules. Everybody has a very distinctive personal style.
And how do you balance out your own creative impulses with say a client’s sometimes very specific briefs?
It really depends on the assignment. It’s a challenge. And it’s good because then you benefit. Sometimes the assignment, the set of rules it sets out for you can inspire you to go a little bit on a different path. But sometimes, you know, you don’t want to put water with wine, but sometimes you just have to do it and you feel bad afterwards…. (laughs)
What secret passions do you harbour outside your design work?
Uh, I’ve got a love for cameras. Photo cameras. Every time I walk past a photo camera shop I go ‘Oh, my god!’ Yeah, especially the older cameras. I have maybe 9 of them. It’s just a very simple camera – film, a range finder… I think too much functions can distract you from the basics of taking a picture. It’s the same thing with software nowadays. Too many possibilities and you don’t know where to start….
Your 3D work would look terrific as part of a game. In fact it reminds us of Tetris. Would you design for games?
Well, I’m actually surprised that not more graffiti artists have been asked to do something for games…. I’d really like to work in a game environment. You could do so much more than just the real life kind of environment, do something that is also more interactive.
Do you think the commodification of streetculture by big brands will kill it?
I think that streetculture as we know it, I don’t think it’ll be called streetculture anymore. It’ll be just culture. I mean it’s already so mixed up with old art and new art. And it’s all got its big names. It’ll be mainstream … it’s already mainstream.
Yeah but is that a good or bad thing?
The good thing is it creates a lot opportunities. The bad thing is it’s not exciting anymore. It’s not, you know, underground at all….
In a hyper-connected universe where information is readily available how can a community then maintain an fertile underground culture.
Things in the mainstream create undercurrents I guess. So I’m sure there are artists that do really nice work, which is not picked up. Or even if it’s picked up they don’t think it’s a good thing ’cause then they get more exposure.
What did you used to play with as a child?
Well, I used to play with Lego all the time. Just the bricks, there wasn’t any Meccano when I grew up….
More Delta at www.deltainc.nl.