Q&A with Denise Buisman Pilger


Among the hustle and bustle of the big city, Denise Buisman Pilger snaps hundreds, sometimes thousands of photos.

A Holland native now living in Montreal, Pilger lives with her husband, Marc Sonny, and cat, Mr. Tigger. Pilger currently works out of her home’s basement, which she says is perfectly suited to her needs as an artist, including a sink, a newly discovered must-have.

Pilger graduated with a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, where she said she learned to really appreciate cityscapes and her ability to blend both those cityscapes and acrylic paints into one singular piece.

Pilger sat down with Professional Artist to talk about how she discovered her passion for art, what her main inspirations are and how she markets herself. Here’s what she had to say:

Professional Artist: At what age did you start thinking of art as a career as opposed to a hobby?

Pilger: I’ve always been drawing, even when I was a kid. It must’ve been in high school when I was seriously thinking about it. At that age, I was either thinking of doing acting or some other art-related stuff, and I was just more comfortable drawing and painting.

PA: What was your most memorable gallery showing or experience?

DBP: Well it’s not exactly a gallery, but my most memorable experience must have been exhibiting one of my pieces in the (Musée du) Louvre. It was in December 2011, and I was a part of the Canadian delegation for the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. … It’s pretty awesome to walk into the glass pyramids and see your own painting!

PA: What’s the process for creating a piece for you?

DBP: Whenever I’ve chosen the subjects, I will collect all the images I have of a particular place and that will usually be somewhere starting from 150 to 1,000 pictures, depending on which city it is and how many times I’ve been there, and then I will go through all those images and pick a couple that really stand out to me.

I’ll put them all together and I’ll build around that, building my composition and taking images from different angles, and try to fit them together. …

Then, once I’ve created my entire composition, I will print out every single image individually, because I want to be able to control every single layer of the painting because I use a transfer technique. I use gel skins, which is basically a layer of acrylic gel that has the photograph embedded into the gel. It’s basically a layer of clear acrylics that’s transparent. The pigment from the print gets embedded in the gel, so when you take all the paper away, you’re just left with the flexible piece of acrylic.

I put every single image on top of the panel, and I build the painting that way, and once that’s all done, I’ll paint on top of that to blend everything together.

“It’s pretty awesome to walk into the glass pyramids and see your own painting!”

~ Denise Buisman Pilger

PA: How long does it take to complete one specific work?

DBP: It depends on how many images are there. Some paintings will take a little bit longer than some of the smaller ones, like the ones with 53 images will take longer than the ones that have 15 images in them … so work wise, I would say two full weeks of work.

PA: For younger artists who are technically gifted but lack business savvy, what would be your biggest advice to them?

DBP: Be organized. I’m a very organized person, funnily enough, especially for an artist, and whenever I deal with business transactions, like galleries or media or even applying to shows, I always get compliments on how organized I am and how well prepared my stuff is, and I would say that’s a very big benefit.

To learn more about Pilger, visit artistabroad.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Etsy.

Adam Rhodes is a staff writer for Professional Artist. Originally from Boca Raton, he’s a striving student journalist with hopes of being a feature writer. Adam is currently a journalism student minoring in criminology in his final year at the University of Central Florida.