Born in 1954 Ton van Zeijl grew up in a small town called Kwintsheul in the west of Holland. On his 17th birthday he left school to find a job, but 7 years later he found out that this chosen path wasn't his future. While working as deputy manager at the Minister of Defense print shop he began taking courses at the Academy of Photography in The Hague. In 1988 he got his diploma, specialised in commercial and portrait photography.
In the early nineties Ton got a job as a fulltime photographer with the Audio Visual department of the MOD in the Netherlands and for several years he travelled Europe photographing everything related to the military world. That could range from missile firings or Arctic training to PR shots from a helicopter or a formal portrait of the Admiral.
In 1995, Ton Van Zeijl started his own company: Van Zeijl Photo Design, doing commercial and people photography. There was variety both in the work and the clients.
Educated as a commercial photographer, he wanted to express his story in his work and decided to start creating artwork that reflected his thoughts on certain subjects. Since he moved his studio to the BaZtille artcentre in Zoetermeer, his attitude toward creating his own art became stronger and stronger due to contacts with other artists in BaZtille. At first the images were black and white, with much symbolism and layers to it. Taking a closer look at that work, people discovered different viewpoints and even messages. It also caused discussion and sometimes more. He regarded this a fascinating development that needed more research.
Today, Ton is exhibiting regularly showing his Fine Art work to the public, using it to invite his customers to come and see his creations. His personal project "BaZtille" made Sapphire Technologies company director Jos van Schilt ask Ton in 2004 if he could create a calendar with dream portraits. Consequently, he was asked to do a similar project for the year 2008. The brief was to create tributes to more or less well known artists. "We investigated what were the most appropriate paintings, based on criteria like 'can we find a suitable location, does it fit with the person that will be in it, is it possible to build the décor, etc.' I also interviewed the people to inform them about the plans and everybody was really enthusiastic about it." Through this series, you'll recognize famous paintings and photography such as: "Portrait of Dora Maar" by Picasso, "Fantasy on Amsterdam" by Carel Willink, "The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaas Tulp" by Rembrandt, "Adele Bloch Bauer" by Klimt, "Blue Nude 1" by Matisse, "Morning sun" by Edward Hopper, "Erasmus von Rotterdam" by Hans Holbein, "Scream" by Edvard Munch, "9 children" by Ans Markus, "Swinging London" by Richard Hamilton, "Oranges" by Botero, "At the concert" by Renoir, "Cherubini and the muse of lyrical poetry" by Ingres. This project was full of small problems needing to be solved that gave birth to some anecdotes.
"For the Hopper I had to create half a hotel room in the studio. The light is done with a large flashgun to get ‘sunlight'. The blue sky is not painted but also done with light and the building was cut out from a piece of plywood and then painted. For the Botero, we made a very large table set at a 20 degree angle. The ‘Oranges are infect melons and watermelons. All painted orange. ‘Scream' was done on location in Polder, near Delft. It doesn't have any digital additions. The orange in the sky is, just like I did in the ‘old' days, done with a piece of colored filter held in front of the lens. The real challenge was of course the Picasso. A lot was asked from Ester, the model, as well as Lillian, my make-up artist, because the make up in this image is a painting in itself. Ester had to pose in very unusual ways with her arm and head to achieve the result we wanted. The image exists of 4 individual shots."
"It was an absolute joy to do this job and to get my QEP with it was the jewel in the crown. I hope you enjoy the images that come with this article as much as I enjoyed making them."