f you’ve strolled through Wynwood Walls or cruised past the Miami Marine Stadium, you’ve likely seen artist Douglas Hoekzema‘s mesmerizing murals. With bright swirling colors and psychedelic patterns, his artwork is hard to miss. The Miami muralist developed a wholly unique method for creating his larger-than-life spirals that is arguably impossible to replicate. “The paint comes out in the shape of a cone, but I only use half the cone,” he says. “It’s all in the wrist.” Hoekzema’s largest work to date stretches 10 stories high on the facade of the Hyde Resort & Residences in Hollywood, but his artwork isn’t all oversized. His portfolio also includes a series of smaller-scale gravity-mapping pieces, as well as private residential commissions.
Here, Hoekzema shares insight into his background and his love for Miami.
Did you always intend to be a full-time artist?
I started spray-painting when I was 15, but I never planned to make it my full-time job. Painting was just this thing I’d always done. I went to college to study architecture, painting and art history. When I graduated from architecture school in 2008, I couldn’t find a job. So, I started taking odd-job painting commissions here and there and that’s when I developed my signature marking technique. Eventually, I decided to commit to being an artist full-time. In hindsight, I’m so happy that I was forced to react; that I accepted the badge of being an artist.
How does your background in architecture influence your work?
In architecture school, you learn to have a strong work ethic. You learn life skills–how to be thorough, how to act quickly on your feet and how to pitch your work. My degree also allows me to better react to and incorporate the architecture of the buildings–the mullions, the glass or the spacing of the brick–into my murals.
How did it feel to complete the mural on the Hyde Resort & Residences?
It was totally surreal. Completing that project in Hollywood was a nice tier that I reached with my commercial commissions. Today, more than ever, I’m definitely not taking my success for granted.
What do you love most about painting?
For me, painting in the public realm is the most gratifying aspect. When I’m at a mural festival, I meet the people from that area and they’re all so grateful for my work. That’s priceless. My artwork is my life. I’m never going to stop working. I’ll work until I die. I like the hustle. Me, with idle hands, it’s not a good thing.
You grew up in Boca but you’ve lived in Miami for the past 10 years. What attracts you to Miami?
As a teenager, I would spend as much time as possible in Miami. That’s where my graffiti crew was located. Today, there is a culture developing in Miami–you have Caribbean and Central and South American influences all mashed up in one area. Even before Art Basel came to the city, there was a good base of artists here. It’s not a secretive or competitive culture–as artists, we support each other. I’m always going to have a studio in Miami. I’ve invested so much time here and I don’t want to lose that. But with that being said, I do plan on having a finca in Colombia someday. My wife and I want to be able to escape Florida in the hot summer and live that dream life.
For another peek into Hoekzema’s work, view the video, below.