With only 8 months I was running around on high speed probably thanks to having no single hair on my head because that wasn’t growing so fast as I did, but with my adorable little earrings I was looking like a doll and before I knew it I received a new name from my granddad.
Hey, my name is Poppy, 27, based in the Netherlands and still living in my hometown known as Lelystad. Speaking of Holland, doll means in Dutch ‘pop’ – to clear things up Dutch is my first language – and because I was young at the time they diminutive the name to Poppy. My last name is Koning which means King in English, so it’s kind of a fancy brand thing.
What wasn’t so fancy is how my life turned upside down in 2016 after I got diagnosed with Lyme disease after months of being sick without knowing the cause and how the ugly aftermath whacked me in the face and took me down for another year which made me ran into a major burnout in my early 20’s.
An overworked workaholic with an ego too big to actually say that I was exhausted and too ashamed to even admit it. Ashamed for hitting a burnout so early in life, but when you think things can’t get worse, oh honey, they can. The burnout came not alone, it cozied up with my crippling anxiety and that all combined made me ashamed for having mental health problems.
In Summer 2017 rock bottom knocked on my door. I opened the door, I welcomed it in, I gave it a chair, we spend a lot of time together until art crossed my path. Somehow I picked up my paints, I threw all the ‘rules’ overboard and dived right into the fluid art scene without even knowing it existed.
Thinning down paints for extraordinary effects that I liked, doing things the opposite and just going with the flow. Putting the feelings that were stirring inside onto a canvas, transferring all of the emotions into an artwork, that moment.. I could breathe again. I felt free.
“Now or never,
guts over fear baby,
blood over anxiety,
art over everything,
– Poppy Koning
One of the ‘positive’ things about hitting rock bottom is, after a while you know there’s only going up from now on. Fighting a battle on the inside, having my own blood literally on my hands, that shows me that I fought for what I wanted in life. If I didn’t got so sick in the Summer of 2016 due to Lyme disease, survived my burnout and dealt with anxiety, I wouldn’t be an artist. No guts, no fucking glory.
And that’s why I decided to be open about my mental health struggle with the REDRUM collection that I launched in April 2019. My very first collection, so pure, so raw, so personal and yet so me. Rock bottom helped me to find my purpose in life, art helped me through a dark time and I want to show you that if I can do it, you can do it too, we can do it. Something that I first thought was my biggest weakness turned into my strongest feature and the best thing that ever happened to me.
So it became a brand thing. Yes, I struggled with my mental health, but I went from struggling from anxiety to recovering from anxiety. This journey is a part of me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Without this rollercoaster of an adventure, I wouldn’t even be an artist. I wouldn’t enjoy life so much as I do now, I wouldn’t be feeling alive as much as I do now.
In 2018 I quit my jobs, I dived into the deep to become a full time artist to pursue my dream job and now I turned that into reality. Painting all day and painting all night. I’m a fluid artist in the contemporary art scene and I use everything. From fluid acrylics to alcohol ink to makeup products and I don’t back down from using my own blood in my paintings.
Meet ‘Guts Over Fear’ the painting that contains my own blood. What can I say? I adore blood and I’m not the only one. Yeah, I like blood, fake blood mostly. Yes, I drew my own blood for my painting. And yes, it’s absolutely beautiful, the painting, but also blood. The intense red shade, the structure is has, the passion that speaks from the color.. ah, perfection.
And welcome to my studio! This is a shot from my art table and it resembles me so much, haha. I like to be organized – on the left – but I also like to dive right into life, be wild, go crazy and doing what I love. Besides that, turquoise is my favorite color even though people expect it to be red with my crazy blood obsession. I always drink Coke Zero, I work on multiple projects to keep me occupied and I like to vary to keep it interesting. I spot makeup products, graffiti markers, because in my teenage years I was your fav local vandal and sage to keep me and my atelier clean and full of positive energy.
When I started on my road to recovery I began with journaling about my mental health, my planners for the week, I also journaled about my art. I collect a lot of ‘data’ like ideas, color combinations and that jazz, but since a couple years I do it online. You can follow me on Patreon, read my ‘online art diary’ and get insight on personal background stories on paintings, tips & tricks, I post tutorials + videos, podcasts and much more.
Besides adoring the red color – that’s why I dedicated a whole collection to it – I absolute love, love, love neon shades, rainbow colors and everything that hurts your eyes from shining so bright. It matches with who I am now, the life that I live and the vibe that lingers around me. I feel good, I put out what I feel and that shows up in my artwork.
I don’t only create art, I also teach! I started off on Skillshare with my online classes, now I also have online courses in video and audio form available in my shop. The online courses vary from art tutorials to art related subjects, but also about mindfulness and mental health. I’m not a pro, I’ve been through it myself and I like to share my own experiences + the things and methods that helped me and maybe help you, even if it’s a teeny tiny bit.
Now I focus on creating art, helping not only myself but also others through my art and that is one of the greatest feelings on this beautiful earth.