I lived in Amsterdam for two years of my drawing adventure and the place was nothing but good to me. Amongst the drawings and eventually paintings I made, great friendships were forged, stories were shared, projects created and some of the greatest of those moments happened in one of my favourite coffeeshops in Amsterdam. The Abraxas lies in the heart of the city in a tiny alley way under the shadow of the grand palace. The atmosphere is more than cosy with the organic wooden seating and mosaic designs that cover the floors. There's a social vibe here rarely found in coffeeshops around the city. The staff are friendly and the coffee is great, what more could you ask for? In the beginning of my time in Amsterdam, a few events and "small world" stories occurred around the shop which lead to some of my most treasured experiences in life and of Amsterdam..
Firstly, in my search for a job and asking in the Abraxas I became acquainted with another customer, a lively 19 year old Dutchman who shared a passion for great coffee and just so happened to be opening a lunch room restaurant with his family. What followed was too surreal for words. I had my first job as an artist painting the tables for the terrace of the cafe, which lead to me working in the cafe itself, working the food, drinks and service, and eventually being semi-(no paperwork)-adopted by the most beautiful of families. I cannot put a value on the 18 months of living with 'The Kroons", They taught me more of life's worth than I knew possible. The mother and father are embassadors of the purest love I have ever encountered. Life's truly awe inspiring people who I can admire as peers and role models, for if I gain a fraction of what they have created, I will be naught but a happy man. The 4 Brothers too, unmistakable of the same kin, yet icredibly unique and individual characters in their own right. I have no doubt in my mind that they will all follow in there parents foot steps and make great things in all aspects of life.
Another time, in the exact same spot where I encountered Jesse (my now dutch brother) did I meet a middle aged bearded Norwegian, coming from Berlin to find an apartment in Amsterdam. After small smoke on a magic dragon, I find out the guy is a painter and we spent the rest of the day hanging out. After this day I did not hear from or speak to Lasse for some months, until one very normal day I was enjoying a lunch with a regular customer of the family cafe when suddenly she had to dash. Over an hour she left her brother and I talking and eating her delicious burger. Upon here return she was so happy and buoyant, she had just sold her apartment and all the things inside! You'll never guess who bought the apartment, yep, Lasse, the Norwegian Painter I met that one day. The world is too small. We got back in touch once he made his move, and what followed was the making of a gallery. Everything Is Fucking Art, Lasse's brainchild of a gallery space to exhibit his paintings in Amsterdam. We dicussed our ideas of what a gallery should be, and from this he asked me to get on board and help me make his.
There was another chance encounter related to the coffeeshop, however this took place on the terrace of the family cafe where I served a kindred spirit and after some chatting she agreed to let me make her portrait. All normal so far I hear you say. Well, the portrait went smoothly, I caught the girl reading on her sofa in the living room of her apartment. After the portrait we continue talking, at some point the girl mentioned that she was in the area a lot because of the Abraxas, which I thought was quite funny as the girl, to my knowledge, did not smoke. I mentioned that it was my favourite coffee shop, she followed with the words "I Know". At this point, I'm a little stunned, how did this girl know this, was she psychic? (it wouldn't have surprised me), I had just that day met this girl, how did she know this. She continued with, "you're the kid that draws.". Now I'm really freaked out. Turns out there was no mental telepathy going on here, but the girl, just so happened to be the daughter of the owner of the Abraxas. Apparently word went around the top that there was a new kid in town and he comes armed with a pencil!
The girl and I became good friends and it was no long before we were talking Abraxas design ideas for the Souvenir shop. So here are he drawings I've made in the name of my favourite Coffeeshop. I highly recommend you check it out if you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of Amsterdam.