Telling stories through art is what inspires Resoborg most – a passion gaining him recognition worldwide
story katia benedetti pictures supplied
Kloof artist, illustrator, graphic designer and painter, Wesley van Eeden, first started to notice art and feed his artistic streak when he was given a blank skateboard at the age of seven. “All of my friends had skateboards with cool artwork, so I decided to create my own,” he explains. “My interest in skateboarding also helped me to see the world differently. Instead of just looking at a building, I would look out for stairs and railings where I could go skating.”
It was this early opportunity to explore his creativity that allowed Resoborg – as Wesley is professionally known – to work and be recognised both locally and abroad. His most recent international project is a mural he painted in the small town of Strasburg, Virginia, USA. In the 19th century, the area was known for its clay, earthenware and pot-making, an industry that has now made the town of just 10 000 inhabitants famous for its pottery and antiques. Entitled Sonner’s Sonnet, Resoborg’s mural is a tribute to one of the town’s famous potters. But it has a deeper meaning too. “A lot of the younger people leave Strasburg in search of something better. Sonner’s Sonnet is a metaphor where the message is that you can shape your town as you want it, without having to find greener grass elsewhere.”
Formally trained as a graphic designer, Wesley started off his career working for advertising agencies, but he always pursued his own personal projects on the side. It came as quite a surprise to him when he sold all his paintings at his first exhibition, and from that followed commissions and enquiries mostly through word of mouth.
2010 was the turning point in Wesley’s career, he was invited on a three-month artist residency in Finland. This was followed in 2012 by an invitation to Queen’s College in New York, where he was given the opportunity to do a painting on South African culture – which is now held in its library’s permanent collection.
All the while back home, Wesley’s design and illustration business grew thanks to work ranging from commissioned murals and commercial illustrations, to corporate projects. “I enjoy working with companies and problem-solving with them. It’s important to continue working on your own personal projects though, as they can spark off other ideas and opportunities.”
And the name Resoborg? “It’s a made-up name,” smiles Wesley. “Reso stands for resource and Borg comes from my time in Scandinavia – it’s a word used to describe a castle at the centre of a village. The name represents the idea that we need to find resources and inspiration within ourselves.”
Resoborg’s ultimate aim in his work is creating something that will impact the community and resonate with people, uplifting their spirits. This he also achieves through a skills development project known as the “Artists Network Programme”. The programme is an initiative of US clothing brand, RVCA, supporting artists in their work. As part of the programme Resoborg brings local artists on board to assist him in his bigger projects, mentoring them and providing them with work.
When asked if he would ever move to further his career, Wesley’s reply is refreshing: “A lot of my friends have moved to Cape Town or overseas, but I feel that if you create good work you’ll get recognised no matter where you are.”