Thijs Rinsema's work, career, and life span coincided with some of the most dynamic decades of the early 20th-century art world, when the rise of dadaism, constructivism, and surrealism made it possible for artists to incorporate philosophy, poetry, painting, collage, sculpture and installation art into meditations on the rapidly shifting modern world. The 1920s-1930s were periods of great innovation for him as an artist. He forged influential friendships and connections, working closely with Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg. Doesburg's principles of De Stijl, emphasizing pure abstraction and reduction to the most essential forms and primary colors, clearly influenced Rinsema's popular football compositions and depictions of racing horses from this period.
Thijs and his brother Evert were lifelong residents of Drachten in the Netherlands, where in addition to their lives as artists, they maintained the family's shoemaking business. Thijs Rinsema worked as a shoemaker until 1946 and passed away the following year from cancer.