PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS: Tom Horna
Bart Kuykens the creator of ‘A Flat 6 Love Affair’ series of books, photographer and all-around creative. A man on a mission to share his passion for classic Porsches.
I contacted Bart a few months ago asking if he would like to meet up and talk cars, photography and creativity in general. Sure enough, the answer was yes. It didn’t take long for us to arrange a date and off I went to Belgium to see him. For some time, Bart was looking for a way to express and share his love for the flat 6 engine cars (read: Porsche) and being a photographer, he thought the best way forward was to create a series of books and so he did. A title that can’t be confused nor mistaken… ‘A Flat 6 Love Affair’. Each book of the series contains a selection of around 30 black and white ‘man and the machine’ photo stories, shot on film and classic Leica cameras.
No need to say that I am a big fan of Bart’s photography and his books. There are already two volumes of the series and I can’t wait for the next one which is launching about… now.
We spent the entire afternoon talking about cars, books and photography and naturally we went for a good drive in Bart’s ‘Outlaw’. Here’s the story…
What was your first car?
My first car ever was a VW Golf, so was my second and third car. I loved these cars back then. It took me a while to buy my first 911. You simply can’t buy a Porsche when you’re in your twenties… then come the kids and family and priorities focus elsewhere, especially when it comes to cars…
How did you get into classic cars, what was your first classic car and why/what’s the story behind it?
My first classic car was a Karmann Ghia. Olive green with white interior. A very nice car. I went to buy a Porsche but it turned out to be a pink instead of a red one like the seller showed me in pictures. Next to the Porsche stood the very Karmann Ghia and with money in my pocket and dedication to come home in a classic car, I had no option but to take the Karman.
Clearly, you’re a Porsche guy; how did your Porsche adventure start?
Like I mentioned before I started with a Karmann Ghia, but later on, my love for Porsche developed through my neighbour… He had one and you know how it goes, the more you see and hear them the more you want them.
You’ve got quite a few cars and most of them you change regularly but your 1970 Porsche 911 Outlaw has been with you for a while. Tell us more about it?
Yeah, my 1970 is a different story, a love and hate story. I crashed it within 3 months of acquiring it… and after that felt really uncomfortable in it. It’s in between the ears… 🙂 Recently I began to love it again but it took a while. I’ve put too much money in the car to let it go. It’s a never-ending project, always on the hunt for new parts …. 🙂
What’s it like to own it?
Well, an f -model is always special. To me, it’s the real deal, but I also could live with a 964 for example. They all have something magical in them.
What’s your favourite bit about it?
My favourite bit is the steering wheel, it’s patinated and feels just right. Another thing I like is my Bluetooth Marshall speaker hung on the dashboard. I love to drive and listen to the engine tune but a little bit of music is never a bad idea…
What’s your favourite memory of it?
It sounds weird but maybe the crash… It puts your feet back on the ground and makes you rethink your driving style. I also had to rebuild it and gave it another colour during the process. It was an amazing experience.
What’s the worst thing about it?
The environmental rules get more and more strict so I am afraid we won’t be able to drive classic cars in a few years. That’s my biggest fear. I think my kids will be surprised that daddy owns a car where there’s smoke coming out of the exhaust… in fact, they’ll probably be surprised that there’s an exhaust altogether… hahahaha…
You’ve changed the look and upgraded it a few times now. Do you work on your cars?
I like to work on them but I am not a mechanic. Far from it. I’m ok doing little bits and bobs.
What’s your dream car?
The one that puts a smile on my face…….. depending on the situation it can be a Porsche but it can also be a Land Rover Discovery.
As we speak you are waiting for a delivery of your latest book ‘A Flat 6 Love Affair’ Vol.3. Tell us more about your books?
My books are my way to tell the world how I see classic cars, how I see photography and how I see people. I find all 3 equally important in my work. So I guess you can say I am not the typical car photographer. I also shoot only black and white on film. For me, this is the only way to go at the moment. The books are a series of 7, each carrying a letter on the spine, so in the end, you have P O R S C H E on your bookshelf 😉
The books are also a creative process for me, and much more than this… It’s a journey, a mission to complete, a challenge. I travel a lot, sometimes together, sometimes alone and as you know yourself, traveling alone makes you think! Spending time alone is a challenging process. I would advise everyone to do it.
Your creative genius goes even further. Tell us what else do you do and what’s your background? (photography, etc…)
My main business is casting agencies. I still love them and they are my kids, but it’s not as sexy as many people think. Making bookings and pleasing clients can be time-consuming and annoying at times, but it comes with the job and I take it as it comes. In the casting business, you need to ‘hustle’ a lot, working for both the client and the actor/model you have to make sure you keep both happy.
Besides this, I have my own clothing brand called BEYOND RAD. Yeah I know, it seems like I am doing a lot but at the moment I can handle it so we keep going.
What is ‘Beyond Rad’ and who is it aimed at?
It started as a clothing brand with lots of different colours, sizes and goodies… but now I only design what I really like and that means black! Currently offering tees, sweaters and baseball caps and almost everything is black on black. Everything is responsibly sourced and organic with limited quantities and therefore not cheap. The tees are about 80 euro and sweaters 120 euro. I know this might seem expensive but you get quality garments and regularly launched new and fresh designs.
I’m glad that I delayed my purchase of Barts book because I got the book from the man himself! Packed and sign before my eyes… An awesome experience!