Meet the team: Diane Dal-Pra
Contemplating the intersection of graphic design and art with the Issue Three illustrator
When working through the illustration submissions for Issue Three, there was something about today’s featured contributor that stood out instantly. Her skill as a painter seemed tremendously harmonious with her style as a graphic designer. Diane’s old website, recently replaced by a newer and even more impressive update, brilliantly showcased her use of both talents. It made imagining her work in an editorial setting a totally straightforward affair, thanks to the great examples on show.
Tasked with a potentially tricky assignment, our first tongue-in-cheek how to guide, she responded in the best possible way. Her depiction of a Norman-style soldier preparing both his invoice and for the subsequent battle, continues to draw a smile each time I see it. It’s great when we’re able to work with people whose styles are a little different to contributors past and Diane’s acrylic stylings certainly ticked that box as well.
I caught up with her earlier this week, as she was preparing to embark on a new internship, in a new country, to find out a little more about her process.
You’ve just completed a Master’s degree in Graphic Design, having been graded 20/20 and receiving Jury Honours, yet you are both a graphic designer and an illustrator, which discipline did you gravitate towards first?
I guess it’s difficult for me to clearly answer one or the other. I have always been fascinated by producing images, mainly by their ability to tell stories and catch the eye gently or violently. Yet, while I work on a project, I never consider my role as one or the other. In my work I try to create a porous frontier between those two disciplines.
For Issue Three, you illustrated our ‘How to: Invoice’ feature with a pair of wonderful acrylic painted pieces. It’s a style that you have mastered, using it in other projects like ‘Hannibal, the poetic killer’. What about this technique do you enjoy the most and what artists or illustrators inspired you to explore it?
Painting is omnipresent in my work. Even if it does not appear as the final response to a project, the paint is always a part of the production process to me. It is the tool with which I construct meaning and shape the forms. Although my practice is constantly evolving, I try to always question how the composition and the colour balance might play a role in the reception of images.
I like to paint zonally and use colour to suggest an atmosphere to the viewer. It’s a method more or less detailed as in my illustrations for Issue Three and Hannibal.
I admire many artists, not only painters. Cinema is a great source of inspiration for me as well. If I had to name names I guess I’d pick out Gregory Crewdson for the deep strangeness of his shots, Henri Matisse for his genius and David Lynch for his precision as an auteur.
You’re about to embark on your third internship in Berlin. What have been your experiences so far? Have you found your past internships useful?
Yes, I’m going to begin an internship with The Simple Society in Berlin, and I’m really looking forward to it. Even though I’m considering this latest internship a little differently to the others as I’ve finished my studies, I think that every internship has the potential to be an enriching experience in its own way.
My previous internships were opportunities for me to understand more precisely why I wanted to do this work, and the importance of method in building a project.
I keep the memory of a particular meeting with a passionate and fascinating person, Celestin Forestier, who taught me the importance of both rigour and generosity.
Aside from the internship, what are your plans now that you’ve graduated? Do you see yourself as a freelancer or working at an agency?
I can’t say I’ll never work in an agency, but my real motives are elsewhere. I would like to work as a freelancer, but I consider that it’s truly important to always enrich your work through new collaborations. I refuse to lock myself in self-employment, exchange is so much richer and fruitful.
Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?
I leave for Berlin with many ideas and desires. I’m planning a personal project, unsurprisingly centred around painting, exploring the crossroads of objects and spaces.
What would be your advice to graphic design students currently studying?
My answer may sound banal, but I think the important thing is being able to take a step back and objectively assess your own work. Taking a little time away from something and then being able to return to it with fresh eyes is often a great strategy for completing a successful project.
For a more in-depth look at Diane’s most recent projects and to keep up to date with her activities in Berlin, check out her site and follow her on Instagram.