Utrecht graffiti artist KBTR, the new Keith Haring?


The past years these depictions of angry gnomes have been popping up all over Utrecht, and now people are comparing the artist’s work to that of the Keith Haring.

The artist goes by the name KBTR, ‘kabouter’ with the vowels taken out. Kabouters are a type of gnome typical for the Netherlands which look like garden gnomes or like original depictions of leprechauns, i.e. fellows with pointy hats and long flowing beards but not to be confused with “hipsters” or “freds”.

As the video shows, one guy managed to get two private kabouters by leaving a couple of crates of beer and a mention of when he would be away on holiday at a local bike shop. More of KBTR’s work can be seen at streetfiles.org. To me, the kabouters of KBTR have a distinct likeness to Belgium’s angry cartoon gnome Kabouter Wesley.

(Photo by Aarnoot, some rights reserved)


  1. Nice article, thank you for the positive message you try to send out to your readers. It’s good to see that grafitti is not only perceived as vandalism.

    Comment by KBTR — February 24, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  2. My wife and I have lived in Utrecht for the last 3 years. We’ve really enjoyed your art and will miss it when we return to London next week. I love the large mural “drop hearts not bombs” on the way to Amelisweerd. Thank you KBTR!

    Comment by Vinney — August 20, 2011 @ 7:43 am

  3. Do any artisits do private work? Will be moving into a new home in a few months and I would rally like a grafiti piece as a feature..


    Comment by Ali — September 29, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  4. I have yet to meet an artist who doesn’t do private work, though this may be different for graffiti artists. I seem to remember that Dutch Rail compiles photo albums of graffiti artists so that they know who to sue, for instance.

    Presumably you can get in touch with the KBTR artist through http://kbtr.nl. And maybe bike courier Gijs de Rijk or theatre maker Leon Giesen know how you can contact the artist.

    Comment by Branko Collin — September 29, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  5. Hey,

    Thanks for the prompt response, I will see what I can do with that info.


    Comment by Ali — September 29, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  6. […] See also: Utrecht graffiti artist KBTR, the new Keith Haring? […]

    Pingback by 24 oranges » Utrecht’s gnome artist KBTR has a new graffiti book — October 22, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  7. […] For the past six years, a strange red-hatted kabouter (gnome) has been popping up in spots around Utrecht. Rather than showing up in 3D form in gardens, he shows up, instead, on walls and other flat surfaces. KBTR (Kabouter) is Utrecht’s most famous graffiti artist and has even been compared to Keith Haring. […]

    Pingback by Utrecht’s Urban Gnome « A Flamingo in Utrecht — October 23, 2012 @ 7:00 am

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