Calico Jack | Birkenstock Boston by Studio Jean

Birkenstock Boston by Studio Jean

Our former colleague Sjeng van Velzen and now owner of Studio Jean, customized the Birkenstock Boston as a special project for Calico Jack! After working at Calico Jack for almost 6 years, Sjeng officially started his solo journey since Februari 2022. So of course we wanted to know: what's up and how did this awesome project come to be?

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Calico Jack: Hi Sjeng! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what it is that you do.

Hi my guys, I'm Sjeng (aka Jean) and I'm trying to create some waves as a professional amateur artist/designer/creative or whatever we want to label it.

Calico Jack: When did you start this journey?

I've been doing this thing for quite some years now, but the final step to independence was made in January this year. So I'm fairly fresh...

Calico Jack: How did your professional lifespan lead to creating Studio Jean? How did this name come to be?

I started the whole 'Jean' thing while working on a project years ago with the line: 'I hide behind another face to escape negativity.' And Jean kinda sort of means Sjeng in French, so here you go. It stuck with me and I still like hiding behind another name...

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Calico Jack: Describe your company in 3 words.

Analog versus digital.

Calico Jack: Tell us about this project for Calico Jack.

At first, I almost fell into the trap of doing what people expect me to do; paint my recognizable shapes and figures. But this time I wanted to do something different, what do I want to wear? I feel like I just recently discovered how black and blue go nicely with each other (when done correctly) and the black base of the selected Birks gave me the opportunity to do it correctly. I also changed and added some things, like switching the way the strap goes through the slits and dyeing the beads and cotton blue. Adding this to the Birks gives it somewhat of a nomadic feel. And to be honest I hope all the above fades over time, giving it a new vibe in the future.

"Maybe that's what the underlying message is: Everything is temporary. Or maybe not..."

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Calico Jack: This is a year with some changes for you. You left a corporate position to start your own journey, you took on new big and small projects and you also turned 30 this year. Did it feel like the right time/age to start your own journey?

Yes! It felt like the perfect moment. And I'm still very happy about my decision.

Calico Jack: Who are your top 3 inspirational people/brands at the moment?

Pff first one that comes to mind is Our Legacy, because for some reason they always hit the right spot if you ask me. It's raw, creative and real. The way they work with one artist that provides their prints and Workshop attributes is so sick to me and damn if someone wants to accomplish that with me, send me an e-mail please lol. The second name that comes to mind is Naranjo-Etxeberria, it's a great design studio in Madrid that also does graphic design for big fashion companies and a lot more of course. Definitely worth a look. The third one has to be Studio Denk in Venlo. These guys are the OGs for me, they always have this natural way of coming up with good ideas. And not only inside the office but also outside of business; playing records and drawing a shit ton of crazy 'things'(?) is just inspiring to me.

Calico Jack: What's the piece of art that you're most proud of, that you ever picked up for yourself?

My apartment is full of work made by friends and people I know, and I love every one of them so no favourites.

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Calico Jack: So... Give us a peek at 'a day in the life' of Sjeng at Studio Jean.

Get up - walk to the city - get my coffee at Grenswerk Café - put on some music and just get shit done. There are times I don't have an assignment due and that's when I have time to work on my personal projects. So there's always time for work, but I have to go out and walk around at least two times a day to see other people, or else I'll drive myself crazy.

Calico Jack: You are also a DJ. Which music has been helping you during your creative process lately?

As long as it slaps I'm good, but soul music always comes in first place. And if I'm having an off-day music-wise there's always NTS Radio to save the day.

Calico Jack: So where can people find you and your work?

For now, it's still only on Instagram (@studio_____jean) because my website is currently under construction. Or of course in my studio.

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Calico Jack: What's next for Studio Jean?

I hope a future full of cool projects and no worries about bills. Working together with inspiring people and just having fun for the rest of my life :)

Calico Jack: Thanks for your time and hard work Sjeng! See you soon!

My pleasure! I'll see you Friday across the street at Take Five for some drinks and good music I guess. Rolph and I will be doing a back2back all night! :)

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