After a brief stint at the Graphisch Lyceum Amsterdam, he started working as a jack-of-all-trades at a local graphic design company, spending his spare time to teach himself Photoshop and the intricacies of digital design. After a couple of years at different design agencies, growing tired of working for clients and the inevitable concessions it entails, De Ligny changed course and began creating his first digital collages.
His early works are hyper-surrealistic mindscapes using meticulously detached photos and images of objects, organisms, people etc., almost exclusively found using Google image search. They're highly detailed, often dream-like and visionary works in the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch, where iconography and metaphor are juxtaposed and intricately, often inexplicably linked employing the associative logic of dream states. De Ligny continues to work in the same vein through his series called Rémiality.
In 2013, De Ligny won a design contest for the Uitmarkt, the national opening of the cultural year in the Netherlands, and his work appeared on billboards throughout the country. Following an exposition in 2014 he was asked by opinion magazine HP/De Tijd to supply a single, full page image accompanying an article every month. This resulted in a series of works where his idiosyncratic, magical realist style collides head-on with the down-to-earth content of current affairs. De Ligny:
'At that point, I felt my autonomous works had reached a dead end where I hardly developed new themes and kept revisiting old ones. Connecting my free-hand style to the relatively stringent framework of a news article resulted in better focus and new perspectives. Through the Rémiality series I continue to develop this style for custom assignments.'
In 2017 De Ligny participated in an exposition by a group of artists from Leiden at the GO Gallery in Amsterdam titled Through a Keyhole. Inspired by an insect pinned inside a glass box - a gift from an old friend and amateur entomologist - he envisioned a series of enlarged insects isolated from any surroundings or objects. He found the insect skeleton is basically a series of repetitive segments, and conceived to recreate these skeletons from mechanical parts in typical, meticulous fashion. This resulted in the Arthropods series. Whereas before, De Ligny had used freely available imagery from internet as well as stock photos almost exclusively, as Arthropods developed he started using self-made photography of tools and machine parts, found in rural sheds, thrift stores, dumpsters and city streets, photographed from all angles, to recreate the skeletons.
"I no longer felt stock photos and image searches were sufficient to recreate the insect skeletons. I needed to do the photography myself and like most of my skills, I developed this autodidactically through trial and error. Many, many errors in fact."
The Arthropods series required objects to be photographed orthographically, to minimize optic distortion. This involves a painstaking process of slowly moving an object under a camera mounted on a tripod, taking up to fifty photographs then combining them in a linear panorama.'
'I used to roam the internet for images with the weirdest search terms, that took time but I got really good at it. Now, the process is quite different. I start out looking for objects of interest, combing the streets and documenting every object I find. Lathe parts, a rusted cog-wheel, an old meat grinder. Then I photograph them from every angle, and use the forms and textures to recreate a specimen like the Jewel Beetle, its skeleton, limbs and joints. It's a funnel-like process where the actual designing is merely the end-point of a long and interesting journey, part of which is a real physical journey through he streets of Leiden.'
With Arthropods, De Ligny connects the organic to the mechanical, the animate to the inanimate, recreating evolution without deviating from the building plan. 'You can't diverge too much, try to connect a limb even slightly differently and the entire structure falls apart. That is the blind genius of evolution, proceeding by endless trial and error, much like my work.''