Belgian Cis Bauwelinckx is the man behind the Ministerie van Unieke Zaken (Ministry of Unique Affairs), a design company that, in Cis’ words, wages a “cheerful war against bitterness and monotony.” We’re big fans of his humorous postcards that are laced with a touch of venom.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
“I was raised in an environment where I was surrounded by pictures and art. I have a creative mind that’s constantly hopping from idea to idea, and a tendency to see things a little differently – kind of upside down or inside out. The things I’m doing now, I taught myself or inherited from home, because my education and experience lie in being a social worker and criminologist. I have always been particularly fascinated by mankind’s simplicity and foolishness. After more than 10 years working in the public service, and a diploma and the security that goes with it under my belt, I made a solemn promise to myself that I would only work where I felt like a fish in water. Aside from that, I live in a really cozy “den” in a village in De Kempen (in the Antwerp province), and my 10-year-old daughter lives there with me half the time.”
How did you start making the cards?
“Well, I’ve been collecting all sorts of photos and pictures that appeal to me for a long time now. They’re usually everyday things and everyday people. The first card – or “curse” as I affectionately call them – I made was to mark the end of my daughter’s school year. I suppose the cards are a means of letting me express my thoughts about mankind without being tarred and feathered, and sent into exile.”
How do you go about making such a “curse”?
“Usually I start with an image that I had previously put aside and I add a thought to it. But it could just as well be the other way round too. Then I run everything through the Photoshop mill, and I add some accents in color, sharpness, depth and atmosphere. Sometimes I may also manipulate the image a bit, like pulling the mouth up or down. I’m really happy if people recognize themselves or someone else in the image. Man’s self-perception is priceless. Bad habits or our rough little edges… We all have them and realizing that is much healthier than having our five servings of fruit every day.”